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Empowering families to lovingly get teens past ‘no’

A family-focused approach often is the best solution to move a child’s “no” to a “yes.”

When an adolescent doesn’t want to get help for a substance use or mental health disorder and the stress of addiction begins to weigh on a family, an interventionist can be an excellent resource.

A family-focused approach often is the best solution to move a child’s “no” to a “yes.” This empowers parents to process their thoughts and emotions, agree on expectations for the family, and then explain changes, options, and consequences to the youth.

“An ‘intervention’ as we often think of it is very useful for getting people into treatment, but I’m also focused on what happens to families after that,” said Rosecrance Interventionist Sandi Lybert. “Once a child understands that their parents are setting new expectations out of love and concern, they almost always willingly go to treatment and the home dynamic will likely improve greatly.”

Lybert prefers a family advocacy approach to encourage resistant teens to seek help. For this, she helps parents understand the dynamics at work and equips them to set and enforce appropriate rules, boundaries, and expectations at home. It may include coaching parents on how to handle a child prone to violent outbursts.

As a result of this support, family issues often can be discussed with the teen without Lybert’s assistance, though she can provide third-party support during a family meeting. If a confrontational intervention is needed, Lybert can walk family members through the process, and she can participate as a supporter.

Instead of a dramatic confrontation, advocacy leads to a formal conversation in which the parents calmly share concerns and steps that will be taken with the loved one. When new expectations and consequences are communicated with compassion and love, as well as prompt follow-through by the parents, positive change frequently results.

“It can be scary when a loved one reaches a critical point with behavioral health,” Lybert said. “I’ve been that parent. Families need a lot of support in these situations, but if they have someone standing with them, and they speak the truth in genuine love, it is amazing to see how kids respond.”

After the initial process, Lybert offers follow-up services as a gift to families whose child is seriously considering treatment. She also points to Rosecrance’s Family Program and Parent Café, which provide long-term connections and support.

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