Residential Treatment For Teens Engaging In Risky Behavior

Table of Contents

This article will provide insights on the following: 

  • Causes of risky behaviors among adolescents
  • Common risky adolescent behaviors
  • Warning signs of risky behavior among adolescents
  • Common risky adolescent behavior treatment
  • How teen residential treatment centers can help with risky behavior treatment

Residential Treatment For Teens Engaging In Risky Behavior

When parents find themselves in a situation where their teen’s risky behaviors are persistent and concerning, they may be advised to consider a residential treatment centers for teens. This often comes with a mixture of worry and hope, as it’s a decision that often arises when other interventions have not effectively addressed their teen’s struggles. Parents may reach this point when they observe a troubling escalation in the severity or frequency of risky behaviors, such as substance abuse, self-harm, or engaging in activities that compromise their safety. Despite their best efforts, they may have noticed a lack of progress with adolescent therapy, teen outpatient treatment programs, or a decline in their teen’s academic performance and overall functioning. In these challenging moments, parents may find solace in the idea of their adolescent receiving 24/7 care and therapy several times a day. The right teen residential treatment program which will create a specific program for their teen who is engaging in risky behaviors. A program that can provide intensive and specialized care for teen needs.

Key Healthcare offers a safe, secure, structured environment with 24/7 supervision and tailored therapeutic interventions to address the underlying emotional or mental health challenges contributing to their teen’s risky behaviors. We understand that safety is of utmost importance; hence we provide a safe space to heal and grow. It’s a decision rooted in love, empathy, and a genuine desire to see our teens overcome their struggles and thrive once again.

Also, it’s important to remember that as a parent, you have every right to intervene once you realize your adolescent child is engaging in risk-taking behavior. But consider first understanding the causes of such behaviors before finding a solution. This article will explain some common reasons on why adolescents engage in risky behavior as well as sharing the best treatment options for teens that have consistently struggled with acting out and engaging in risky behaviors.

What is Adolescent Risky Behavior?

Risky or high-risk behavior among adolescents can be defined as acts that expose them to diseases, health consequences, and injuries, such as unprotected sex and drug abuse. Subsequent effects of risky behaviors include social problems, addiction, disability, amongst other consequences.

Difference Between Reasoned and Reactive Risky Behavior

Although both types of teen behaviors expose adolescents to certain issues, reasoned risky behaviors are deliberate, while reactive behaviors are impulsive. When people indulge in reasoned risky behavior, they intend to attain some associated benefits. Reactive risky behaviors, on the other hand, are mostly attributed to a deficit in response inhibition.

Causes and Factors Contributing to Adolescent Risky Behavior

Some reasons adolescents may engage in risky behavior include the following:

Age and Development Stage

The changes in the brain’s cognitive control system during puberty make adolescents more receptive to risks, even though that declines as they transition into adulthood.

Family Support and Involvement

Given the lack of supervision and accountability, teenagers lacking family support and involvement will likely indulge in risky behaviors.

Comorbid Mental Health Conditions

Psychiatric disorders and conditions such as bipolar disorder, depressive disorder, and substance use disorder can promote indulgence in risky behavior due to increased impulsivity and emotional dysregulation.

Cultural Considerations

Adolescents can be easily influenced into risky behavior by their societal relationships. This covers motivating factors such as peer pressure, a major reason teens engage in risky behavior. Check out our guide on How to talk to your teen about peer pressure.

Consequences of Adolescent Risky Behavior

Some of the possible consequences of adolescents engaging in risky behaviors include:

  • Disability
  • Premature deaths
  • Chronic diseases

Common Adolescent Risky Behaviors

Substance Abuse and Addiction

Common drugs and substances teenagers abuse that can lead to addiction include alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, opioid, and prescriptions, such as Xanax. Signs of substance abuse among adolescents include teen stealing, behavioral changes, irritability, poor academic performance, teenage mood swings, lying, changes in sleep patterns, or new or increased anxiety or depression. It can also cause physical symptoms such as bloodshot eyes and weight loss.

Self-harm and Suicidal Ideation

Adolescents with suicidal ideation have suicidal thoughts or are unusually preoccupied with suicide. They may think about death in general, plan their deaths, or have specific plans of how to end their lives, and even though they may not do it, they still need help and support. Emotions associated with suicidal thoughts include helplessness, hopelessness, anxiety, shame, guilt, and overwhelming stress and anxiety. Teen Self-harm, on the other hand, refers to purposefully hurting one’s body by cutting the skin with a sharp object, punching things or oneself, and poking objects through body openings, among many others. Teenagers with self-harm behaviours may also break their bones, intentionally bruise themselves, pull out their hair, and burn themselves with matches, candles, or cigarettes.

Illegal activities

Risky behavior can also take the form of illegal activities such as stealing for no purpose, vandalism, arson, and burglary. These behaviors can lead to jail or even death.

Read this if you are looking for information about Treatment for teen stealing

Sexual Risk-Taking Behaviors

High risk sexual behavior among adolescents includes unprotected sex and sex with multiple partners. These behaviors can lead to unplanned pregnancies and long-term health consequences such as HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections.

Aggressive and Violent Behavior

Violent and aggressive behavior in adolescence includes bullying, fighting, use of weapons, gun violence, sexual violence, and cyberbullying. They normally happen on school property, during school events, and on the way to and from school or school events.

Early Warnings of Adolescent Risky Behavior

You should grow wary if you notice the following signs on your teenage son or daughter:

  • Reduction in personal hygiene and grooming
  • Poor academic performance
  • Changes in social behavior or peer groups
  • Mood and behavioral changes

Types of Adolescent Risky Behavior Treatment

Here are the five main treatment options for adolescents engaging in risky behaviors:

Individual Therapy

As the name suggests, individual teen therapy allows adolescents to have a closed one-on-one discussion with licensed therapists. This structured approach can help them open up about their struggles and personal encounters. Some therapy modalities used during individual teen therapy include teen cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, and dialectical behavior therapy.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Acceptance and commitment therapy for teens, popularly known as ACT, convinces adolescents that their thoughts and feelings cannot control their behavior and that they can be in charge of their actions even in the face of uncomfortable thoughts and emotions. It does not recognize and correct negative thoughts like cognitive behavioral therapy. It generally works for substance abuse and mental health conditions such as anxiety, trauma, and teen depression.

Family Therapy

Adolescents, their parents, guardians, siblings, and other family members can undergo family therapy for teen behavior problems to uncover problems causing distress within the family dynamic. It also allows families to develop healthier bonds and relationships and learn new communication styles. All participants express their feelings and explore solutions to their issues for better communication and support.

Group Therapy

Another common therapy option for adolescents engaging in risky behaviors is teen group therapy, a type of counseling that brings together teens sharing the same issues. It offers groups of 8-9 adolescents a safe space to cope with their issues, build self-awareness, and grow resilience.

Alternative Therapy

One of the most common alternative therapies for adolescents is teen art therapy. It occurs in group settings under the supervision of a trained and licensed art therapist. Benefits associated with this type of therapy include self-expression, improved coping skills, identity exploration, reduced stress, improved problem-solving, and increased self-esteem.

Using Teen Residential Treatment Center as a Treatment Option

Key Healthcare has a teen residential treatment center in Malibu, Los Angeles, CA, where teens engaging in risky behaviors can find help. Let’s help you discover more about teen residential treatment.

What is Teen Residential Treatment?

Teen residential treatment is a long-term mental health care program available for teenagers of between 13-17 years. It is done in a specialized residential facility that offers round-the-clock care and support, allowing teenagers to reach their full potential and enjoy a healthy, productive life.

Evidence-Based Practices in Teen Residential Treatment

Here are the techniques used to help overcome mental health and development challenges in a teen residential treatment center:

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for teens is a treatment option that allows teenagers to work on their thoughts and behaviors. It is premised on the idea that feelings, thoughts, and behavior are connected, and by changing one’s thoughts, their behaviors can change. Benefits associated with this type of therapy include problem-solving, emotional regulation, relationship-building, and reduced negative behavior.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavior therapy, or DBT as it is commonly known, helps teenagers manage their emotions, develop better coping skills, and tackle difficult situations. DBT for teens champions self-acceptance and behavioral change. Skills learned include mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.

Motivational Interviewing

Motivational interviewing (which also helps with lacking motivation) is a type of individual therapy that allows teens and adolescents to recognize others like them. Learning they are not alone in their struggles helps them explore issues and work with the therapist to find good solutions.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

Mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques for teen residential treatment include body scans, stretching and breathing exercises, yoga therapy, and meditation.

Multi-Systemic Therapy

Multi-systemic therapy helps treat serious behavioral problems among adolescents. It promotes positive coping mechanisms using family strengths, reduces negative behavior, helps increase problem-solving and accountability, and works with parents, guardians, or caregivers to reinforce positive behavior among subjects.

What to Expect During Teen Residential Treatment Therapy

Here is what to expect when you bring your teenager to our teen residential treatment program:

  • The program runs for 45-60 days.
  • Treatment is tailored to the individual needs of every teenager.
  • There are experienced therapists, clinicians, and support professionals to help teenagers make positive changes.
  • Only evidence-based treatment options, such as dialectical behavior therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy, are used.
  • The center offers other holistic and recreational therapies such as surf therapy, yoga, music production, and art therapy.
  • Observance of a healthy diet and regular exercise.
  • Academic support services to help students keep up with school.
  • Family-centered treatment aimed to help address communication issues and develop new coping skills for long-term recovery support.

Preparing Your Teen Residential Therapy

Ways of preparing your teenage child for teen residential therapy include:

  • Gathering all the information they need saves them from unnecessary paperwork and allows them to fully focus on recovery.
  • Encouraging your teenager to express their feelings and emotions during the program.
  • Reviewing the entire process with them.
  • Assuring them that you will be there for them throughout the program and that you are proud of them.

Challenges in Adolescent Risky Behavior Treatment

Even as you seek treatment for your adolescent child engaging in risk-taking behavior, it can be helpful to keep in mind the following challenges:

Stigma and Barriers to Seeking Treatment

Barriers to seeking risky behavior treatment or any other type of adolescent mental health treatment include a negative attitude towards seeking help, fear of others finding out, the belief that the treatment may be unsuccessful, a feeling of defeat, and accompanying concerns such as confidentiality, transportation, cost, and inconvenience.

Resistance and Non-Compliance with Treatment

Non-compliance affects treatment outcomes and may lead to direct clinical consequences. Causes of resistance and non-compliance include lack of understanding, lack of a strong patient-provider relationship, and mistrust.

Cultural Consideration and Diversity in Treatment

Some of the cultural considerations and diversity in treatment include differences in cultural values and norms, language barriers, and shifting cultural identity.

Long-term Outcomes of Adolescent Risky Behavior

An adolescent that undergoes therapy and other risky behavior treatments is more likely to enjoy the following outcomes:

  • Enhanced life quality
  • Improved mental health and well-being
  • Reduction in risky behavior
  • Improved academic functioning
  • Improved social functioning
  • Reduced chances of relapse

How to Avoid Adolescent Risky Behavior

Adolescence may cause extreme behavioral changes. However, you can still help your child avoid risky adolescent behaviors by helping them develop useful strategies, being engaged and present in their activities, monitoring them as much as needed, understanding the challenges they are going through, openly discussing common risky behaviors and their consequences with them and raising your children using an authoritative but actively involved parenting style.

Choosing an Adolescent Risky Behavior Treatment Program

Key Healthcare’s teen residential treatment center is an exceptional choice for teens engaged in risky behaviors, offering a unique combination of specialized care and location advantages. Situated in the beautiful setting of Malibu, Los Angeles, our center provides a serene and supportive environment conducive to healing and growth. We understand the complexities of adolescent struggles and the need for comprehensive treatment. Our highly trained and compassionate team of professionals is dedicated to providing individualized care, tailored interventions, and 24/7 supervision to ensure the safety and well-being of each teen.

Moreover, we recognize the financial concerns associated with treatment, which is why we strive to make it accessible by offering 100% insurance coverage whenever possible. We work closely with insurance providers to maximize benefits and reduce the financial burden on families. This commitment to affordable care ensures that teens can receive the support they need without compromising on the quality of treatment.

Read here to learn about the major insurance policies Key Healthcare accepts.

At Key Healthcare, we believe in addressing the root causes of risky behaviors through evidence-based therapies, skill-building techniques, and a holistic approach. Our program emphasizes individual therapy, group therapy, family involvement, and aftercare planning to promote long-term recovery and emotional well-being. By combining our expertise, a supportive setting, and comprehensive insurance coverage, we aim to provide the best possible care for teens and their families, empowering them to overcome challenges and embark on a path of lasting positive change.

We also provide teen aftercare programs to help your adolescent child deal with triggers and stressors that can lead them back to indulging in risky behaviors.


Risk-taking is a common behavior among adolescents occasioned by factors such as potential changes in their brain’s cognitive control system. However, do not sit back and watch as your child indulges in activities that may result in irreparable damage. At Key Healthcare, we are committed to helping you get the best help for your adolescent child through our teen residential treatment center. Feel free to reach out to us. If you would like to learn more, read our ultimate guide on Residential treatment for teens.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How Do I Know If My Adolescent Needs Risk Behavior Treatment?

If your adolescent is engaging in self-destructive behavior, has a sudden drop in grades, extreme mood swings, and losing interest in friends.

What Role Do Parents Play in Adolescent Risk Behavior Treatment

Parents play pivotal roles in adolescent children’s risk behavior treatment. They should offer support and encouragement, liaise with their child’s mental health professionals, acknowledge and freely talk to their child about their condition and handle all the paperwork to allow their children fully focus on recovery.

What is the Age Range for Adolescent Risky Behavior Treatment

Most risk behavior treatment programs cater to adolescents between 13-17, an age range occasioned by significant changes in the brain’s cognitive control system.

Is Adolescent Risk Behavior Treatment Covered by Insurance?

Yes. If you verify your insurance, Key Healthcare will cover 100% of your child’s risky behavior treatment costs.

Is Adolescent Risky Behavior Treatment Evidence-Based?

Yes, most treatment options used to treat risky behaviors among adolescents are tailored to meet their preferences, needs, and cultural expectations, making them evidence-based.

At Key Healthcare, we help teenagers explore and work on the beliefs, values, experiences, and attitudes that lead to risky behaviors through cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, mindfulness-based stress reduction, and dialectical behavior therapy.

How Long Does Adolescent Risk Behavior Treatment Last?

The treatment duration for an adolescent who is consistently engaging in risky behavior depends on the adolescent. Options such as teen intensive outpatient programs (Teen IOP) last 4-12 weeks, while residential treatment can last as long as 60 days. We also have an adolescent partial hospitalization program that lasts 3-4 weeks.

Can Family Members Participate in Adolescent Risk Behavior Treatment?

Yes. Facilities such as teen residential treatment centers offer family-centered treatment tailored to help families build healthy boundaries, address communication issues and develop excellent coping skills for long-term teen recovery.

Can Adolescent Risk Behavior Treatment Be Effective for All Types of Risks?

Yes. Treatment options for risky adolescent behaviors can be tailored depending on the case. Feel free to contact us and learn more about our treatment programs and how they can help your child overcome certain behaviors.