Here is one family's story about how in-home teen and family coaching helped them:
What do you do when your child will not go to school? Sarah* called us crying and distraught because her 16-year-old son Eli* had not been to school at all in the past 2 weeks and rarely in the weeks before that. Screaming, crying, and sometimes even throwing things was their morning routine. Sarah didn’t know what to do and was so relieved that a coach could come meet with them that very evening. The coach met with Sarah and Eli to learn more about what was happening and what each of them wanted to happen. The expressions of intense anger and frustration, soon became pain and sadness. They both really wanted things to be different. Eli wanted to be back in school, but was terrified because he was so behind and didn’t feel like there was any hope for him to catch up. Sarah wanted to support Eli in getting back in school and also wanted to have love in their home again. With the coach’s guidance, Sarah and Eli came up with specific target goals. These goals then turned into a treatment plan to make the changes they envisioned a reality.
This comprehensive plan included the coaching coming to the home every weekday at 6:00 AM to help Eli establish a morning routine. The next morning, exhausted, but eager for change, they successfully made it through the routine, which, on this morning, included grabbing breakfast at Jamba Juice before the coach, Sarah, and Eli met with the counselor at school. They worked with the school to develop a plan that would allow Eli to get caught up and feel good about school again. The coach came back in the afternoon and helped Eli create an afternoon routine that gave him some downtime, but also helped him to stay on top of his schoolwork. It was an exciting and tiring day! Not every day was perfect; sometimes Eli didn’t want to cooperate, and sometimes Sarah was unsure if lasting change was really possible. After modeling the new routine and structure consistently for just a few weeks, the coach instilled confidence in both mother and son. Sarah began facilitating the morning routine on her own, Eli and Sarah began to feel love in their home again, and, by the end of the semester, Eli was caught up and feeling confident about school and his future.
What is in-home teen and family coaching?
- Teen and family coaching is an intensive service that focuses on reducing 1 to 3 unmanageable behaviors that are currently impacting the teen’s functioning at home, school or in the community.
- The coach meets with the teen and/or family in the home, school, or community at the times that the challenging behaviors are likely to occur. The coach provides modeling, structure, support and immediate one-to-one behavioral interventions based on the teen and/or family’s abilities, interests, and strengths.
- The coach works with the teen and family to develop and implement alternative behaviors that are more adaptive and appropriate. The coach helps the teen and family learn new ways of reducing and managing challenging behaviors as well as increase positive behaviors and coping skills that promote success.
- The coach meets with the parents to teach them how to effectively manage these behaviors and support their teen. By transferring these skills to the parents, they are able to sustain progress and help maintain the teen’s long-term success.
- Teen and family coaching is intended to supplement the teen’s individual therapy services and is provided in collaboration with the teen, parents, individual therapist, and others in the teen’s support system (family therapist, psychiatrist, school counselor, grandparents, etc.).
The team works together to develop and implement a plan that facilitates lasting behavior changes.
14-year-old Anna* was deathly afraid of needles – screaming bloody murder afraid. Her parents wanted to take the family on a special vacation to Costa Rica, but they all need to be vaccinated first. Anna really wanted to go, but didn’t believe she could subject herself to getting stabbed in the arm multiple times. A friend recommended that they try working with an in-home teen and family coach. The coach and Anna worked to truly understand her fear and the associated negative thoughts – like, “I can’t handle the pain,” that reinforced this fear. Anna’s coach worked with her to learn how to replace each negative thought with a more realistic thought. Her coach also taught her relaxation skills, such as calming breathing techniques, and then, a nervous, but ready Anna began exposure therapy. Anna and her coach started by talking about needles and shots, calming her pounding heart and shaking hands by using deep breathing and repeating her new thoughts. Anna progressed, bravely working through her fear at each stage, as she listened to stories about shots and needles, looked at graphic pictures online, and watched videos of other people receive shots – all the while using her calming skills and new thoughts. Within weeks, Anna’s fear of needles diminished to the point that she successfully received her vaccinations with her coach standing by her side. Anna and her family were thrilled to be able to go on their trip and experience lush rainforests, waterfall gardens, and incredible wildlife on the trip of their lifetime!
The service is completed in three phases:
Phase 1: Engagement and Assessment
- Services begin by engaging the family, identifying strengths and developing rapport.
- Behaviors are observed and an assessment is completed to gain an understanding of the problematic behaviors.
Phase 2: Development and Implementation of Behavior Plan
- In collaboration with the team, specific, measurable goals are created and a behavior plan is developed.
- The coach works with the teen and family to identify replacement behaviors for the teen to use as alternatives to the undesirable behaviors.
- The coach, the teen and the teen’s parents are learning together and taking responsibility for their parts of the behavior plan.
- Interventions and strategies focus on improved self-management, self-awareness, impulse control, coping skills, social behavior, and communication skills as well as positive reinforcement of desirable behaviors.
Phase 3: Transfer of Behavioral Plan
- During the final phase, the coach oversees a transition plan to ensure that the positive behavioral changes will continue.
- Once the frequency, duration, and intensity of the targeted behaviors have been reduced and the interventions and strategies have been transitioned to the family, the teen and family graduate from Teen and Family Coaching Services.
15-year-old Michael* and his dad John* hadn’t spoken in 3 days. Michael’s mom passed away a year earlier and the combination of pain, grief, and anger caused emotional tornados to tear through the house on a regular basis. John can’t remember the last time he had a conversation with Michael that didn’t spin out into an argument. Not even speaking to his own son though – that was the last straw. He was choked up as he explained to our office that he was desperate for things to be different. The coach came to their home and explained how our services worked and how we could help as Michael sat, looking both defeated and defiant, silent at the far end of the table. When the time came to talk about how they got to this point and what they want now, the coach suggested that John share first. As John explained that while there was so much hurt and anger, all he really wanted was to repair his relationship with his son, silent tears began to fall down Michael’s cheeks – and the healing process began. Throughout their work together, the coach facilitated many healing conversations and activities – from ways to include memories of Michael’s mom in their day to day life to simply going on walks together and talking about both good and bad things that happened that day. They learned to really hear and understand each other – probably for the very first time. Michael began to feel like he really could talk to his dad about anything and John felt like he had his son back. They decided to continue to meet with their coach every other week to ensure they stayed on track and maintained their loving, open relationship.
*Names have been changed.