Ways to Support Your Child During a Teen Partial Hospitalization Program

This article guides on the following:

  • Understanding a teenager’s needs during a partial hospitalization program
  • Ways to support your child before the program
  • Preparing your teen for the program
  • How to help during the program
  • Preparing your child for the transition out of the program
  • Benefits of supporting your child during a teen PHP

Unconditional love and support from family is crucial as a teen goes through teen partial hospitalization treatment. Research shows that parental involvement and support increases the chances of effective therapy. Does that mean that you need to be present in every session? Of course not, but there are different ways you can support your teen as they go through therapy, from preparing and informing them about teen PHP and providing for their physical and mental health to attending therapy so you can heal as they too do so. Most parents wonder how they can support their teenagers through teen PHP treatment and their role in the teen’s therapy. It can be a confusing process once your teenager starts going to therapy. Still, once you understand how to support your teen in a partial hospitalization program, they will have a smoother road to healing.

Understanding Your Teen’s Needs During a Partial Hospitalization Program

Teens get into partial hospitalization programs for several reasons, including emotional, behavioral, and social support.

Parents are equally important as therapists in ensuring the program’s success and the best outcome. Your support as a parent and how you show up for them can influence their emotional and behavioral regulation. You can support your teen during the PHP by providing the following:

Physical Needs

It’s easy to identify your teen’s physical needs. Your teen’s physical and mental health are connected.

  • Not having enough of certain nutrients contributes to mental illness. For instance, vitamin b12 deficiency has been linked to depression. A nutritious meal ensures they are physically doing well but also improves their mood and decreases stress and anxiety.
  • Sleep affects your mood, so if your child is not getting enough sleep, they may become easily annoyed and angry.
  • Ensuring your teenager has enough rest and a regular sleep schedule is important.
  • Being physically fit also reduces stress and improves your teen’s mood, ensuring they are in a better state to undergo treatment.

Emotional Needs

Emotional needs refer to conditions or feelings we require to feel happy, content, and at peace. Without these conditions, we may feel hurt, dissatisfied, or frustrated. Every teen has unique emotional needs from identity, genetic disposition, upbringing, and other factors. As a parent, you are responsible for finding out what your teenager needs so you can support them accordingly. A good place to start is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, but even then, ensure you have open conversations with your teenager to find out exactly what they need.

Some basic emotional needs include:

  • A safe and secure space
  • Connection to a community and social support
  • Unconditional love from family or caregivers
  • Supportive caregivers
  • An emotional connection
  • A sense of self and achievement
  • Privacy
  • Coping skills and stress management techniques
  • Volition and meaning

Ways to Support Your Child Before They Begin Treatment

The idea of a hospitalization program can be scary for teens, especially when they don’t know what to expect. Once you decide to enroll your child in a teen partial hospitalization program, you must adequately prepare them to stay positive to increase the chances of a positive outcome. It’s best to have an honest conversation about the program ahead of time and in a helpful manner. Avoid using threats, as they can create negative ideas about therapy or the program before they even get started. Here are ways you can support your child before they begin treatment:

  • Research the Program and Allow Teen To Ask Questions

Before bringing up the topic of therapy to your teens, ensure you have enough information about the program. Visit the facility beforehand and meet the team of professionals working there. You need to know all the details about the program, including the duration it will last, the hours they need to dedicate to the treatment program, the goals of the program, and the benefits they stand to reap. Your child will have questions, and you need to be able to reassure them by providing accurate information. They will also likely have more confidence in the program when they see that you have researched it.

  • Involve Your Teen in the Decision-Making Process

Teens need to feel like they are in control and decisions are not just forced down their throats. It’s important to involve your teenager in planning and decision-making. Narrow down to two or three teen PHP and let them pick one once you have laid out the details, pros, and cons of each. This way, they feel they have some autonomy and say in the process. If you’ve already chosen a program, reassure your child that nothing is set in stone, and they can always switch treatment plans or programs if they are uncomfortable after a couple of weeks.

  • Discuss Communication Expectations

Communication throughout the program is crucial but avoid prying and asking them what they talk about in therapy. Sometimes, the therapist may inform parents about topics discussed during sessions, but even then, it’s important to let them know. If they know what to expect, they will not feel betrayed. Teenagers need to know that you respect their privacy and that they can trust their therapist.

  • Be mindful of your child’s feelings and emotional state

It’s normal to be scared of the unknown, and that may lead to resistance. As a parent, you need to remain mindful of fears and feelings that may arise when you inform your child that they are getting into a teen PHP. If the teenager does not think they need help or there’s anything ‘wrong with them’ to warrant therapy, they may become defensive, angry, or afraid and may even resent you. It’s important to explain why you and a professional determined they need the extra help and how therapy can benefit everyone.

Preparing Your Teen for the Program

The idea of therapy is scary, especially for teens going through numerous body changes, peer pressure, and making decisions you never had to make before, like where to go to college and what to pursue. For some teens, admitting they need help and cannot do it for themselves is hard to swallow. While some teenagers will be fully receptive, others may be resistant, defiant, angry, or defensive. The point is you don’t know how your kid will receive the news, so here are some ways to prepare them for the teen partial hospitalization program.

  • How to talk to your teen about the program

Before your child starts therapy, they need to understand the program and why they need it. When bringing up the conversation of joining a teen PHP, remain calm. The key is to remain comfortable because they will feed off what you put down. They will pick that up and feel the same way if you look uneasy. It’s also important to pick the right time and environment to talk to them. Pick a calm moment when everyone is relaxed rather than delivering the news in a heated moment.

  • What to expect during the program

Talk to your child about what to expect during the teen PHP. You can start by asking what they know about therapy and the hospitalization program so you can address any misinformation they may have. Tell them what they think they can benefit from therapy and explain their day-to-day life when they start the program. It’s crucial to prepare them for the change that will happen instead of leaving them guessing. If you’re unsure of anything, get the therapist on board to help with a description of what the program will look like and what the different sessions will consist of to ease your teen’s mind.

  • How to help your teen prepare for the program

Apart from breaking down what they can expect and informing them of the details of the program, give your teen lots of choices. During the week leading up to the start of the program, start warming them up for the program. On the day prior, you should remind them. You can also establish a ritual or fun activity for both of you to do daily after the program. It should be a simple, relaxing activity you can bond over. This is especially important for teens anxious about joining the teen PHP. You also need to acknowledge with your child the difficulties they and the family are facing and let them know that you will also be getting help so they don’t feel singled out.

  • How to alleviate your teen’s anxiety about the program

Anxiety is a natural response when one finds a situation threatening. The best way to help a teen who feels anxious about joining the program is to reassure them and share as many details about the program as possible while keeping it simple to not overwhelm them. It is important to empower the teenager by giving them options rather than making the final decision. You can also make agreements, and by this, we don’t mean bribing but compromising. For instance, you can let them pick an activity for the family after therapy hours or what to have for dinner on the weekends. It’s also important to destigmatize hospitalization programs by painting the teen PHP positively and letting your child understand that it’s the same as going for a medical checkup when feeling unwell.

Ways to Help Your Child During Their Treatment

Support does not end when the teen starts the teen PHP. There are several ways to help your teen as they undergo treatment:

Attend Family Therapy Sessions

One of the best ways to help a teen as they undergo treatment for whatever mental health issue is through teen family therapy. As a parent, you have gone through several emotions when you find out your child is struggling with mental health issues. It’s important to get the necessary help to create a safe environment for them to recover fully.

Understand the importance of family therapy in the program

Family therapy is a form of psychotherapy treatment focused on understanding and addressing underlying conflict within a family dynamic. It helps the teenager, family, and siblings explore issues causing a strain on the family, develop new communication strategies, and build stronger bonds. According to family systems theory, an individual’s problems cannot be resolved successfully without understanding and addressing the family dynamic.

Participate actively in the sessions

Family therapy involves weekly meetings with a family therapist who guides the conversation. During the sessions, the family members can express their feelings and discuss possible solutions. They also learn how to support each other. The therapist’s focus is on guiding members to navigate difficult conversations and help them develop healthy coping strategies.

Use the sessions to strengthen family relationships

At key healthcare, the therapist will also ask parents questions about the teen’s behavior and functioning outside the treatment program. The therapist will also be interested in understanding the relationship between the teenager and their parents and siblings. The family needs to work together to improve relationships, conflict resolution skills, and communication. Family group sessions also lead to clarified family roles and the building of healthy boundaries, further strengthening family relationships.

Creating a Supportive Environment at Home

Your home is your haven, and the same goes for your teenager. It’s where they feel most comfortable and can be their best self. The state of your home has a huge impact on your teen’s mental health, and poor living conditions can be a source of daily stress which can further affect their mental health. Some ways you can create a safe and supportive home environment include:

  • Showing your teen love and appreciation and acknowledging their achievements in the program.
  • Communicating openly and honestly with your child. Create a space where they can discuss anything and express their feelings, frustrations, and disappointments.
  • Build an engaging environment by allowing them to decide what to wear, watch or eat.
  • Establishing routines. At the end of the day, when your teen returns home after the program hours, they need to have a routine to follow. Ensure they know what needs to be done, whether it’s having a shower and joining the family in preparing meals or playing with the siblings.
  • Spend quality time together as it teaches teens the importance of being part of the family. It also encourages communication and strengthens family bonds.

Building a Strong Support Network

Teens need a strong support system as they undergo a teen treatment program. These are people and systems that provide practical and emotional support. A healthy support system promotes mental health and well-being by ensuring the teen has a sense of physical and emotional safety and feels cared for, and respect is mutual. Some ways to build a healthy support system for teens include:

  • Involving family members in the treatment process. This helps the family understand and empathize with the teen’s mental health condition.
  • Seeking support from friends and peers. The adolescent needs to maintain their relationships with their friends and peers for social support. They need to have peers outside of the treatment program that they can interact with after the program.
  • Connecting with support groups or online communities. Support groups are made up of same-age teens going through similar issues, providing a safe space for teens to work through their issues, knowing they are not alone.
  • Communicating with school staff and teachers. The teen’s teachers need to know that the teenager is undergoing a treatment program so they can figure out how to support them accordingly.

Collaborating with the Treatment Team

The therapist and the entire medical team taking care of your teen during treatment will need input from you throughout treatment. Most therapists must meet the parent before the program starts to set goals and better understand your child. For an effective collaboration with the treatment team, the following are important:

  • Understanding the role of the treatment team in a PHP. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and relay your expectations.
  • Establishing effective communication with the treatment team. There are no hard rules in therapy. Enquire the best way to communicate with your child’s therapist but don’t pry. If there’s something important the treatment team needs you to know, they will communicate it.
  • Adhering to the treatment plan and following recommendations. Be a team player. If the therapist recommends attending sessions, make time and do so. If the teen is supposed to take any medications, ensure they do so as required by the treatment team.

Educating Yourself about Your Child’s Condition

Mental health conditions vary, including depressive and anxiety disorders in adolescence, Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD in teens), trauma, and Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD). It’s important to understand your teen’s condition so you can better understand how to help them. You can do so by:

  • Research the specific mental health condition(s) your child is facing. You can do a deep dive on the internet or consult a medical professional.
  • Understanding the symptoms, triggers, and coping mechanisms for the conditions. Once you know the signs, you can identify when the teen has a relapse or needs some extra help.
  • Seeking professional guidance or attending educational workshops. Speak to a professional to understand how you can be of help or other ways your child can be assisted.

Managing Transitions and Challenges

As your child goes through the treatment program, there will be a lot of changes. The key healthcare teen PHP is a 3-4 week program that requires an 8-hour commitment 5 days a week.

  • Supporting your child during transitions to and from the PHP. Throughout treatment, the teen needs to know they can speak freely with the therapist. It’s also important to convey confidence in the teen’s ability to complete the program successfully. Ensure you maintain a positive outlook as it rubs off on your teen.
  • Dealing with setbacks or relapses. Relapsed teens are common during and after treatment but do not indicate that treatment has failed. It takes time to develop an addiction, and it sure does take to change a deeply embedded behavior. Ensure you extend grace and hold your child’s hand when a teen relapses so they can view it as an opportunity to assess their skills and make the necessary changes to their recovery plan instead of viewing themselves as failures.

Taking Care of Yourself as a Parent

When your teen is in crisis and struggling with a mental health condition, taking a minute to step back and care for yourself feels selfish. It’s, however, necessary because you can’t pour from an empty cup. If you are not mentally healthy, you may do more bad than good for their well-being. Some ways to care for yourself include:

  • Recognizing and managing your own stress and emotions and receiving therapy for the same.
  • Seeking support from friends, family, or a therapist
  • Practicing self-care and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Maintaining your hobbies or taking up new ones is important to avoid being consumed by the situation.
  • Joining support groups or seeking parent-specific resources. You will feel less alone in the struggles with your teen when you interact with other parents in similar situations.

Financial and Insurance Considerations

Teen PHP does not come without additional costs, so it’s crucial to understand your financial responsibility. Teen PHP can be expensive, but chances are that your insurance policy provides some level of coverage. Check with your insurance policy and consider other options to ease the financial burden. You can also contact the facility and inquire about the possibility of making payments in installments as your teen gets the help they need.

Prepare for your child’s transition out of the program

A teen PHP treatment provides a safe space where the teen can focus on treatment and recovery. Once they are discharged from the facility, teens may go through a range of emotions as they need to readjust and rejoin the community. The goal of hospitalization treatment is to provide stabilization and begin the healing process, which needs to continue when the patient returns home. Practical ways to prepare for your teenager’s transition out of the program include:

  • Work with program staff to create a discharge plan which should start at the onset of treatment.
  • Continue to provide support and resources for your child’s ongoing mental health needs.
  • Attend teen aftercare programs and support groups.
  • Communicate with Your Teen’s Care Team
  • Attend Follow-Up Appointments and counseling sessions to address challenges experienced after treatment.

Benefits of parent support in Teen PHP

Parental involvement has a wide range of benefits, including:

  • Teens feel motivated to get help when they know there’s an entire team rallying behind them.
  • Parental involvement means treatment continues after program hours by providing consistency in and out of the program.
  • Parents and the family gain a deeper understanding of what their teen is going through.
  • You can address family issues and repair the parent-child relationship, which may contribute to a child’s difficulties.


It’s important for a teen undergoing the partial hospitalization program to receive the necessary support as it helps enhance a positive outcome. You will also understand your child better by getting more information about their mental health condition and ways you can support the treatment. Working with the treatment team to ensure progress after the program is crucial. Ensure you educate yourself on mental health matters and take care of yourself to be in the right state to provide support.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a Teen Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)?

The key healthcare teen PHP is a treatment program offering clinical services for adolescents that can function minimally coordinated and are not a danger to themselves or others. Unlike traditional inpatient programs, teens don’t live at the facility during treatment but dedicate 8 hours, 5 days a week, for 3-4 weeks to the program.

What are some effective strategies for maintaining open communication with my child during their PHP?

Active listening is a part of effective communication as it helps teens feel heard and understood. Allow the teenager to express themselves without interruption and try to understand them. Speak clearly and respectfully and clarify where they don’t understand. Encourage respectful conversations without anyone taking an accusatory tone, and don’t forget to have fun together to break barriers.

What alternative therapies or complementary approaches can support my child during their PHP?

Some helpful alternative therapies include mindfulness, movement therapies such as yoga and dance, aromatherapy, homeopathy, and guided hypnosis. Key Healthcare Teen PHP entails therapy forms such as teen yoga, teen art therapy, teen surf therapy, and teen music therapy.

How can I help my child transition back to school after completing a Teen PHP?

Start planning as soon as they start the program. Ensure the teachers and school knows about the programs and make necessary arrangements with the therapist and treatment team. Also, ensure you have the necessary knowledge on relapse and what to do if it occurs. Ensure the teen still has access to support groups and therapy in school.

How can I address the stigma surrounding mental health issues while supporting my child in a Teen PHP?

Educate yourself, be aware of your attitudes and behaviors, and ensure your family and immediate community have their facts about mental illness and treatment programs right. Talk openly about mental health with your family, friends, teachers and on social media to educate the community.

Will my child be prescribed medications as part of their Teen PHP?

Medication might be prescribed after a psychiatric evaluation. The teen must take all prescribed medication with the help of the treatment team and parents per the health professional’s directions.

What skills or coping mechanisms will my child learn during a Teen PHP?

Your child will learn healthy coping mechanisms, including problem-solving skills, emotionally focused coping, and adaptive coping. They will also learn to communicate better and get along with family and friends.