Having a healthy relationship with your child helps them to grow into a strong, confident person, ready to take on life and all it has to offer. Parent-child relational problems get in the way of this, causing fighting, arguing, and a generally unstable atmosphere. Luckily, there are numerous therapeutic approaches that can help to rebuild the relationship between you and your child.
How to Support Your Teen in IOP
Participating in an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) is a great way of dealing with parent-child relational problems. An IOP is a way of treating a substance use or related mental health condition, in which the patient receives frequent therapy while still living at home. This allows the patient to get the help they need, without interfering in their day-to-day lives. IOPs are often used in alcohol addiction treatment but can be used in treating a number of problems. However, going through the program can be a turbulent experience for your teen. They will be experiencing feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, and even a little bit of fear. To successfully make it through the program, your teen will need to feel supported and loved throughout the entire process.
First, ensure that you fully understand their situation. Do research and ask questions, so you know exactly what the program entails and what types of treatment will be used. Second, make sure your teen knows that your support is unconditional. Explain to them that no matter how they are feeling, or how long it takes them to get healthy, you are there for them. They need to know that you are in their corner and that your support will not waiver, no matter what. Next, be patient. This can be difficult, as you want to see your child make progress and be healthy, but making them feel rushed will only slow things down. Don’t put extra pressure on them and allow them to get healthy at their own pace, while still maintaining your boundaries and rules at home. Our team can help guide you in this process.
While nothing is guaranteed, taking these steps will increase the chances of your teen making it through their IOP, and coming out healthier on the other side.
Strategic Family Therapy
Another helpful tool when dealing with parent-child relational problems is strategic family therapy. This therapy helps your family with conflict mediation, communication, anger management, and other relational skills. Unlike traditional therapy, which usually focuses on one individual, strategic family therapy focuses on the family system as one entity. When there is a parent-child relational problem, it is not the fault of one person, but rather it is caused by a combination of factors involving the entire family. Strategic family therapy allows for everyone’s needs to be taken into account, and for a more sustainable path to healing to be developed. It should be noted, for the best results, the whole family should be participating.
Parent Child Interaction Therapy
Parent child interaction therapy (PCIT) can be invaluable when it comes to solving parent-child relational problems. PCIT is essentially a therapist observing the way you and your child interact with one another. Often this is done in the least intrusive way possible, in order to ensure genuine interactions. Sometimes, the therapist will even be observing through a one-way mirror or video feed, so that there is no chance of them influencing the interactions at all. The therapist will then give suggestions to the parent on how to interact with the child. Some therapists may even use an earpiece to give instructions in real time.
PCIT consists of two phases. The first phase focuses on helping your child to feel secure in their relationship with their parents and good about themselves. The second phase focuses on helping you deal with your child’s most challenging behavior by teaching you strategies to help manage them.
After PCIT you may see:
- Decrease aggressive behavior
- Decreased destructive behavior
- Decreased defiance
- Increased compliance
- Increase respect for rules
- Overall improvement in behavior
As you can see, PCIT can greatly improve the quality of life for both you and your child, and is a great option for dealing with parent-child relational problems.
Individual psychotherapy is one of the most common forms of therapy. This is when the therapist and the patient (in this case, your child) talk one-on-one in a private setting. The therapist talks to your child, helping them work through their issues in a safe environment. The privacy of individual psychotherapy often leads to patients being able to open up in ways they could not in a less private form of therapy. This can lead to huge breakthroughs that would not otherwise occur. However, some patients do thrive in a group setting and may benefit from therapies utilizing a group approach, such as mindfulness therapy.
Treating Underlying Mental Health
All of these therapies work to improve your child’s underlying mental health, which should always be a point of therapeutic focus when treating teenagers with substance use issues. Parent-child relational problems don’t just come out of nowhere. Oftentimes the cause of these problems is an underlying mental health condition such as anxiety, depression, alcohol use disorder, or any one of a multitude of other conditions. By treating these conditions, you are treating the parent-child relational problems at the root.