It’s really too bad that when you are going through a crisis you often have to make crucial decisions. It’s the worst time to have to do this because, well, you are going through a crisis…..who thinks clearly at this time??
For us, the decision to send our son Dan to a residential program for OCD during the summer between his freshman and sophomore years of college almost seemed like a no-brainer. Just to clarify: Residential treatment programs are different from inpatient programs, at least for most insurance purposes. Dan entered the program voluntarily and could leave anytime he wanted to.
Back to the no-brainer part. This program that Dan attended is world-renowned, highly regarded, and intensive. The staff assured us Dan would improve enough to successfully return to college that fall, which was his goal. Dan was not only willing to go to this treatment program, he wanted to go. He couldn’t wait to go! So why on earth wouldn’t we send him, especially when that was what all of the experts recommended?
In retrospect, I think we should have explored our options more, but as I stated above, we were in crisis mode. In hindsight, perhaps a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP – which is basically the same as a residential program aside from one very important fact: you go home at night).
In regard to the residential program, I really thought that as Dan’s parents, our relationship with the staff would be one of collaboration. You know, all of us working together to help Dan. But that was not the case. Dan was over eighteen and considered an adult. The fact that he was a nineteen year old suffering from severe OCD and not really in the best condition to be making life-changing decisions did not seem to matter. Not only were we not consulted when decisions were being made, we were often not even informed of these decisions. So it was fine for us to pay for Dan’s treatment; we just couldn’t know anything about it. And when we did press for information, we were often regarded as pushy, overbearing parents.
So this is something to be aware of. At a PHP, we would have had more contact with Dan and would have had the opportunity to be more involved in important decisions.
Of course, what is right for one person (and family) is not necessarily right for another. If possible, the best thing to do is to research all options: individual weekly ERP (exposure and response prevention) therapy, intensive ERP therapy (more days, more hours), partial hospitalization, or residential treatment. There are pros and cons to each of them, but they all have one thing in common: ERP Therapy. And, in a nutshell, that’s what is most important.