How to Transition Your Teen from Inpatient Psychiatric Care

April 9, 2018 Susan Traugh

Transitioning your teen out of inpatient psychiatric care takes planning. Use these tips to help your teen's transition from inpatient psychiatric care go smoothly. Prepare for your child's transition at HealthyPlace.

The transition from your teen's inpatient psychiatric care facility to home can mark an exciting change for your child. However, without a detailed plan for her transition, leaving inpatient psychiatric care can exacerbate her mental illness issues. Creating a solid plan for the transition period after your teen's inpatient psychiatric care can help your child be a success as she transitions back into regular life (Coping with Life After Residential Mental Health Treatment).

Ease Your Teen's Inpatient Psychiatric Care Transition with Intense Scheduling

Strict regiments and intense scheduling were a part of your teen's inpatient psychiatric care program (What Is It Like Inside a Mental Hospital?). Clients are scheduled nearly every minute of every day from the time they wake up until they go to bed at night. When she lived in residential care, my daughter was allowed 20 minutes of free time just before bed provided that she’d followed all the rules all day long. This time could be used to write letters home, read, or simply chill-out on her bed. Other than that, every minute was regulated.

Leaving the Constraints of Structure Can Be Disruptive

Just as you wouldn’t completely take off the training wheels as soon as your child learns to balance on a two-wheel bike, so, too, you won’t want to take away a supportive structure the second your child is well enough to come home.

Like with the bike, ease those training wheels up an inch at a time until you know for sure that your child can handle the choices and responsibilities of her new-found freedom before you offer a more relaxed structure.

Tips to Transition Your Teen from Inpatient Psychiatric Care

Copy the inpatient psychiatric care program. My teen’s inpatient psychiatric care program gave me the weekly schedule that she had followed for her year of residential treatment. I tried to follow it as much as possible, providing meals at her mealtime, the same amount of study time and many of the same chores.

Consider special education. Large schools can be very intimidating for a student just coming out of a teen inpatient psychiatric care facility. Talk to your district about other options. Most Special Education Learning Plan Areas (SELPA’s) in the country offer schools for kids with emotional difficulties. These schools provide very small classes, specially trained teachers, and regular therapy, free of charge.

Don’t give in. While you may want to “make it up” to your child for not having freedom for so long, resist the inclination. Your teen was placed in inpatient psychiatric care because she could not cope with the outside world. Guarantee her success with the tools she learned in residential care by keeping her choices to a minimum and allowing her to build on her successes.

Keep providing support. Make sure you keep her medication available. Don’t miss therapy appointments. Consider group meetings such as a 12-step program or intensive outpatient programs. Provide support in her school setting. Your child succeeded in residential care with a strong safety net of support. She needs that even more when she gets out from teen inpatient psychiatric care.

Check in regularly. In the beginning, my daughter and I planned weekly meetings to discuss how our plan was working. We’d talk about the mistakes she made that week, not to scold or shame her, but to strategize how she could negotiate that issue successfully next time. We’d discuss if it was time to give her more freedom or pull back a little. (Surprisingly, my daughter asked for a tighter leash several times in this process when she became afraid that she couldn’t handle the decisions alone.) Above all, keep the lines of communication open.

Transitioning a Teen Out of Inpatient Psychiatric Care Can Be Successful

I will admit, our road was bumpy out of my teen's inpatient psychiatric care facility. I’d occasionally give in to my daughter’s desire for too much freedom and we’d both pay the price. But, we eventually found a path to wellness and were able to cobble together a road to success. Today, my child is sober and stable (mostly). She is successful in college and will be starting her first job. I’d say my teen's inpatient psychiatric care transition has been a success.

APA Reference
Traugh, S. (2018, April 9). How to Transition Your Teen from Inpatient Psychiatric Care, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 18 from

Author: Susan Traugh

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Mom in Texas barely hanging on
November, 10 2021 at 2:10 pm

Thank you this is so helpful! My daughter will be coming home tomorrow from a shorter inpatient treatment program. I am feeling all kinds of emotions and feelings. I could only imagine how she is feeling. We have a game plan. Her therapy appointments are scheduled, not sure how solid the game plan is but we have one as a guide to start.

Susan Traugh
May, 11 2018 at 5:03 pm

Congratulations Paul! What a wonderful accomplishment you have made. Improving your grades like that and staying in high school is difficult for many teens. Making those kinds of improvements after transitioning out of the hospital is amazing! You have every reason to be proud of yourself and I'm sure that a bright future lays ahead of you. The best of luck to you on your journey.

Paul Shtogryn
April, 18 2018 at 10:28 am

I found afte 18 months in psychiatric hopsital it took time.The longer I stayed in high school the longer I got out the better I got and the more accustomed I got to get back on my feet again.I went from 28% 1stmyear Grade 10 to 66% 2nd year Grade 10 to eventually getting 73% in Grade 12 being exempted from writing all final exams.
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