The path to wellness is a hero’s journey. It takes time and commitment from the student and their family. Change can be hard, and there will be times when the growth is challenging and even painful. Sometimes students want to give up, to go back to their old patterns.
Working through old coping behaviors and beliefs alongside others facing similar struggles can be very beneficial. Family support and encouragement during those moments help teens overcome emotional obstacles that arise.
Knowing what to expect, what the phases of the hero’s journey include, can help. Like a map showing the way, it shows teens and families that they are on the right path, and that goals are reachable.
Stabilization and Commitment: teens (and families) begin their journey by learning the basics of regulating their nervous system, experiencing being grounded as they are seen, heard, and attuned to. It is the beginning of the journey and they are orienting themselves.
They are beginning to take control over their behaviors and bodies. In this stage, parents and teens are invited to identify and assess where they have been, what some of the outdated/ less helpful coping behaviors that they have been using. Old behaviors are identified as old ways of behaving that they have outgrown and can now put down. They are beginning to develop insight, increase self-knowledge, and accountability for past behaviors. Both parents and teens begin to name what things they will need to leave behind as they journey forward. They also begin to identify where they want to go, what they want to accomplish, and what tools they will need to obtain to succeed as a family & individually.
This stage is about Trust, learning what tools will serve them, as they increase effective communication, and begin practicing new ways of connecting and relating.
Integration: Here students and families are deepening their connections, as a family and in the greater community. They are fine tuning their tools, practicing in community, and beginning to revisit home and old connections. They can also attend the local public high school, get a job off campus, and obtain independent skills. Here, they begin to give back to their community, practice leadership, and practice behaviors that are in alignment with their values. Transition: Here the focus is on succeeding in the greater community, whether it is a return home or enrollment in college, or independent living. There is focus on fine tuning the home contract.