What is a Group Home for Teens?

When your teen is struggling, it can be difficult for all family members to know the best ways to interact with them, help them, and guide them towards making the healthiest decisions. A group home may not be something that you’ve previously considered, particularly because, like many parents, you may be reluctant to have your teen live away from home and family.

With that, it’s worth considering the benefits of a group home setting for a struggling teen. Learning more about a group home, what takes place there, and the treatments your teen can receive may help to reassure you of this being the right option for your teen.

Just what is a group home for teens?

Residential treatment facilities and psychiatric treatment hospitals can often be large, with large numbers of patients being treated at one time. This is an excellent option for many teens and their needs. For others, a smaller setting is a better option to help them to better focus on their individual goals for recovery.

A group home serves just a small number of individuals. The setting is less like a hospital and treatment facility and more like a family-like environment with trained, compassionate staff to help each teen.

Group homes offer structure, safety, and the right therapeutic environment so that teens can address their mental wellness and behavioral concerns. A group home can also function as an excellent option to help teens transition back into home life from spending time in a residential facility that offers a higher level of treatment.

For some teens who have spent time in a residential or psychiatric treatment facility or those who have just been released from time in a juvenile detention facility, a group home allows them to continue to focus on their goals before returning home.

How long do teens stay in a group home?

There is no one-size stay length for teens. It will be based upon the needs and goals of the individual. The ultimate goal of most teens will be to move home feeling stronger and face returning to their family lives.

Some teens may benefit from staying a month, while others may benefit from several months and even a few years.

What happens in a group home setting?

A group home will focus on a structured schedule for the teen residents that will allow them to participate in school, therapy sessions, and other beneficial learning opportunities. The group home will be a nurturing and supportive environment for all teen residents, which means there will be rules and consequences for breaking those rules. The rules must apply to everyone to offer a safe environment for everyone, one in which teen residents can begin to see positive changes.

When it comes to those same rules, teens can often earn access to additional privileges by following the rules. Many group homes allow their teen residents to earn privileges through a level or token system. If they break the rules, they may lose access to privileges. If they maintain the rules and keep their behavior positive, they’ll often earn time to use gaming systems or outings into town.

Teen residents will typically attend area public schools, but this may vary based on the educational focus and needs of the teen. Group home staff will maintain close contact with the schoolteachers and coaches to be aware of what’s going on with the teenager’s behavior in school and with their academic progress.

Just as they would be at home, teens are encouraged to be involved in the daily activities of the group home. This could include cleaning the home, keeping their bedroom clean, shopping for groceries, helping to prepare meals, and taking part in group activities.

A group home setting provides teen residents with chances to learn new life skills with the support of the staff caring for them. They’ll learn how to manage their anger better, work through eating disorder concerns, learn how to do their laundry, and prepare for living independently.

What else can a group home setting offer a teen?

In a group home, the treatment focus will often be on helping resident teens learn new life skills, increase their self-esteem, and work through the mental health concerns troubling them.

Some group homes can provide specialized treatment for specific concerns, including:

  • Substance use and abuse
  • Autism
  • Anger management
  • Individual and group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Behavior programs
  • Eating disorders
  • Depression and anxiety

Involvement from every family member is an important part of helping the teen learn how to best reintegrate into the home and community they belong to. Family participation can also help the family members learn how they can best prepare and adjust when their family member returns home.

What are some of the key benefits of a group home?

Every teen will get the right targeted help to meet their individual needs in a group home setting. The small therapeutic environment allows for more one-on-one time with staff members who can recognize and address those individual needs. While larger residential treatment facilities offer excellent services and consider the needs of the individual when coming up with treatment plans, some teens thrive better in a smaller setting.

The supportive environment of a group home offers the same comfortable and familiar feel of a true home, which can help teen residents settle in better than if they were in another facility. In these group home environments, teens can learn the skills they need to cohabitate and get along with other family members.

With that family-like support, teens who struggle with behavioral and emotional concerns may find it easier to form the bonds they need for recovery. Group homes can also be an excellent solution for teens who need stronger one-on-one support than they would get in a larger treatment setting.

They also offer the ability and support for parents to learn the right strategies that will allow them to help their teens better cope once they return home.

Can a group home be successful?

As is the case with most situations in life, your teen will get out what he puts in. If he puts in the work, makes a concerted effort, follows through on his therapies, he will see great and positive results. If he’s resistant to treatment and other offered help, he is less likely to see the hoped-for results.

The group home staff will make every effort to help your teen feel comfortable, fit into the home, make friends with other teen residents, and keep their education and behavior on track.

It’s not an easy decision to make when sending your teen to live away from your family, but getting them the right type of help should be a decision that comes easily.

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