Residential Treatment Center (RTC) & therapy questions


Active Member
Question 1- the GAL is having social services look into the option of placing my difficult child into an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) prior to having more mental health assessment (He was assessed last feb/mar and i was in the process of setting up a re-evaluation this mar. when he got in trouble again.) i think everyone is in agreement that he should be re-evaluated, but i thought this should be done first, then see what docs recommend for treatment, placement, and school. is that the normal procedure or do kids get sent to Residential Treatment Center (RTC)'s for punishment, then get evaluation'd while they're there? also, if they send him now, will he have to stay there a long period of time even if the docs don't think it's necessary? who and how is it determined when they get out?

Question 2- last year,difficult child & i thought our therapists were not helping us and it was really agitating our lives in some ways. i've tried to figure out why because i always had decent success with most counselors i saw (periodic for depression and just needing advice) in the past. for my difficult child, it appears that because of the behavior issues, the therapist wanted to deal with bahvior management and was doing it similar to "The Explosive Child"'s Plan A- and was telling me I should be using Plan A at home all the time. My difficult child was primarily diagnosis'd with- major depression and this therapy seemed to be making him more frustrated and feeling worse about himself. i had not read the explosive child then, but when we quit going to therapy and i used my gut feeling and started backing off on my kid about some things, choosing my battles, holding firm on some things, but really paying more attention to things bothering him, and trying to be supportive that he could get it back together, he did start improving. now, it might have been that the prozac was in full effect by then, it might have been a number of things, but the therapist we had been seeing never would have approved of the way i started dealing with- my difficult child. i don't know what to expect from a therapist now. shouldn't the parent and therapist be able to discuss what is working and what isn't? should i go to a new one and discuss difficult child issues and how therapist would counsel him to see if it sounds like it would help difficult child? when it comes to therapy for behavior problems like this, is it always therapy like "my way or no way" and if it doesn't work it's the difficult child or parent's fault? is it that i don't understand the method of treatment?

timer lady

Queen of Hearts
Residential Treatment Center (RTC) is frequently used to stabilize & assess a child. There are Residential Treatment Center (RTC)'s that specialize in certain diagnosis's & behaviors & others that are a melting pot of sorts.

Both of the tweedles have spent time in Residential Treatment Center (RTC); for the most part it was a positive experience & broke the cycle of "craziness".

klmno, your difficult child is at a tough age; there is a level of expectations that he isn't meeting. If his diagnosis is getting in the way there are very few interventions that will work until he is stable. I'd never make everything a basket A in this household. It's just not the real world for any child - difficult child & easy child. There needs to be a level of give & take.

It may be, at this time, your difficult child would be better off in a group therapy setting with some of his peers versus individual therapy. It's amazing what peer pressure can achieve.

The majority of the therapy for kt & wm is skills based; learning new coping skills versus simply being reactive.

I hope you find some answers for your difficult child.


Active Member
who typically places kids in Residential Treatment Center (RTC)'s- courts, mental health prof's, or parents? are they "sentenced" to a certain time period there or is the length of stay determined by the difficult child's becoming stable? do they keep them until they think they are easy child's or until the treatment plan is established and difficult child is stable and under control? do they have their own psychiatrists and psychiatric testing?


Well-Known Member
Almost anyone can put a child in a Residential Treatment Center (RTC). In your case since your child is in basically the custody at this time of either the court system or social services I would assume that one of those two entities would be the ones to place him in the Residential Treatment Center (RTC).

As far as what the goal is, it is normally treatment based. Punishment is left to juvenile detention centers. Most Residential Treatment Center (RTC)'s are behavior modification centered but they do have access, usually onsite, to at least therapists. If you have psychiatrists on site, it is more often referred to as a psychiatric residential treatment facility. There can be a difference. Some places are locked facilities and some are not.

Normally the goal of treatment is to set up a plan and work that plan. These places usually run on some sort of system such as a level system. You can also be sent there for a period of time but if you meet the end of the period of time and havent achieved your levels I doubt you would be let go. It would be seen as though you were too severe and needed more intensive treatment. However, if you work the goals and move up to the level that is required to leave the Residential Treatment Center (RTC), the step down is started. That may mean going home with supports in place or stepping down into a something like a group home first and then into the home with supports. That is what my son did. He went from Residential Treatment Center (RTC) to group home to home.

Since you seem to be having a problem getting him a psychiatric assessment going, you may want to ask the courts to have him committed to the state hospital and then they can transfer him directly from there into an appropriate Residential Treatment Center (RTC) upon discharge from the state hospital. That isnt as scary as it sounds. Most state hospitals have pretty good adolescent units.


I think treatment options depend on the facility. Some RTCs have psychiatrists on staff to handle medication decisions. Some RTCs do psychological assessment. Almost all that I've heard of or read about have therapeutic components. The length of time a difficult child spends at an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) depends on the type of program the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) runs, the goals of the program and how well the difficult child does there. If it is suggested that your difficult child be placed in a specific Residential Treatment Center (RTC), I think these are good questions to ask of the facility.


New Member
My difficult child was placed in a temporary childrens shelter pending a evaluation. He then after the doctor recogmended Residential Treatment Center (RTC) went to a placement. He is there now and doing very well.


New Member
My daughter is in her third Residential Treatment Center (RTC). The first one was through the board of ed, it was a joke. The second one was worse than the first one. She is now in a reputable facility that I like alot and I love her therapist. She ran away 13 times from the first one and while on an awol she was arrested for shoplifting. (the best thing that ever happened to us) The courts then placed her in the second facility, it was horrible, more like jail then a treatment center. I fought to get her out and now she is in a good one. She has been there for 3 months and is not doing well. We are in the process of changing her medications, hopefully we will see a difference soon. I just got word today that she will be granted an extension. We go back to court in Oct., her social worker put in for an extension and we got. So she will be in there at least until the following Oct.

A couple of doctors have actually told me that statisitcs show that rtcs don't work. I have heard some pretty grim stories about children who were in Residential Treatment Center (RTC)'s. In my daughter's case, it was really about keeping her safe. She was running the streets with gang members and smoking weed daily. So, we really didn't have much choice. She may not be doing well yet, but at least I know she is safe.

Good luck