Elk River Teen Treatment Program

Select the Best Mental Health Treatment Center for Your Teen

How to Choose the Best Residential Mental Health Treatment Facility for Young Adults and Adolescents

June 23, 2020

Sending your teen to a residential program can improve the overall health and well-being of the whole family. While outpatient treatment centers intermittently intervene, residential centers provide continuous, cohesive care in a safe and supportive environment. The daily routine established during residential treatment provides stability and reduces distractions, empowering teens to understand and address their mental health and/or addiction challenges.

Selecting the best residential mental health treatment center can feel like an overwhelming task. To identify the best facility for your teen, consider the following list of criteria.

The best mental health treatment centers offer the following:

  • Accreditations and licensure Choose a residential treatment center that meets your state’s licensure requirements and meets the highest performance standards for healthcare organizations. Examples include The Joint Commission, Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitations Facilities (CARF)
  • An evidence-based approach to therapy Effective treatment centers utilize evidence-based (or proven) methods of therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy.
  • An accredited education program Confirm that your teen’s education will not be interrupted by their time in treatment. Teens should be allowed to continue with their education, and the program’s education team should coordinate the child’s re-entry to his or her school of transfer after leaving treatment.
  • Credentialed staff Verify that the team includes licensed mental health professionals who are trained and experienced to work with adolescents and teens. Ask if there is a child and adolescent psychiatrist on staff. Make certain that the support staff are screened and consistently trained to work with adolescents, teens and their families.
  • Continuous support Ask potential programs about the support team’s availability. Your teen will benefit most from a team that is committed to continuously monitoring and assessing their progress. Programs that offer 24/7 medical and therapeutic support will be best equipped to help a teen identify his or her challenges and develop a plan to overcome them or explore better coping skills to address their individual challenges.
  • Discharge planning Ensure that the team for the mental health treatment center consistently communicates with you and your teen’s home therapist and teachers to formulate an attainable, sustainable plan to ensure long-term success.

The Elk River Treatment Program is one of the best mental health facilities for youth.

At Elk River, we pioneered the idea that teen mental healthcare should be collaborative, fully integrated, and family oriented.

  • Our experience is unparalleled, and we comply with the highest standards of accreditation and licensure.
    Elk River was among the first residential mental health facilities of its kind to earn accreditation in Behavioral Health Care by The Joint Commission. It has been licensed by the State of Alabama Department of Youth Services for more than 15 years. We maintain membership and accreditation from a number of other respected organizations, including the Association of Experiential Education and the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs.
  • We use a multidisciplinary treatment approach.
    Our multidisciplinary team of licensed therapists, direct care staff, psychiatrist, program leaders, teachers, social workers and registered nurses meets weekly to assess and formulate a personalized treatment plan for each teen in our care. This approach allows us to work with teens with a myriad of behavior, mental health and physical challenges including those with complex medical conditions, including dialysis, seizures, and diabetes.
  • Teens complete a personalized therapy plan that includes individual and group therapy.
    While at Elk River, your teen will attend daily group therapy sessions. Individual therapy sessions vary depending on their personalized treatment plan. These sessions address issues such as substance use, addiction, grief, loss and trauma (e.g., emotional, mental, physical). Frequent therapy sessions help teens develop a strong, trusting relationship with counselors that facilitate recovery. Groups help teens identify and cultivate a positive peer culture as well as address conflicts in real time in an appropriate manner.
  • Our academic program is accredited and individualized for each teen.
    Highly qualified and state certified educators will assess your teen’s academic performance to develop an individualized study plan that re-integrates with their education at home after discharge. We accommodate 6 - 12th grade students, and our instructors work closely with your teen to ensure their continued academic success.
  • Qualified staff serve your teen 24/7.
    At Elk River, our staff is recruited and screened thoroughly to provide your child the highest level of professional care possible. Our certified teachers, licensed counselors, and medical professionals work together to provide a comprehensive treatment plan for your teen and are available to them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • We equip the family for a successful discharge.
    Elk River believes in equipping the entire family for a successful discharge beginning on the first day of admission. A primary therapist will be assigned to your family and speak to you by phone at least once per week. We provide online resources, weekly workshops and proactive aftercare plans to ensure a teen’s successful return home. Continuity of care is a high priority to us: our goal upon discharge is to effectively transfer your teen’s therapeutic and educational plans to ensure continuity of care.
  • Our campus is COVID-19 compliant.
    We closely monitor all clients and staff health and rigorously follow CDC recommendations to ensure your teen is healthy and safe. We use HIPAA compliant electronic software to ensure parents have 24/7 access to their child’s progress and we offer TeleHealth video conferences and workshops.

What can you and your teen expect while staying at Elk River’s mental health treatment center?

We conduct a number of evaluations and assessments upon admission. Armed with the results, we formulate and begin implementing their individualized treatment plan. Monday through Friday they will spend four uninterrupted hours on their academic studies. We use a blended learning environment with highly qualified, state certified teachers in the classroom. Each student has their own workstation, so setbacks or progress remain private. Your child’s academic plan is designed for them – wherever they are in the moment.

The remaining hours of the day are spent addressing their therapeutic plan, which includes individual, group and family therapy sessions, physical training, team building, life skills training, nutritious meals and good hygiene practices. Your teen will be constantly monitored to ensure their stay at Elk River is a positive and constructive experience.

We encourage students and parents to communicate through letters first and graduate to phone calls and visits. Letter writing is a useful communication tool for teens and their parents. They begin to understand themselves better and improve their communication skills through the process.

Since treatment plans are individualized, the length of stay varies from weeks to months. Sometimes insurance and family finances dictate the length of the program. Regardless, our goal is for parent and teen to reunite more capable of helping each other move forward as a supportive family unit.


Complimentary consultations with our experienced mental health counselors are a service we are honored to provide. Contact an admissions adviser at 866-906-TEEN (8336) to learn how we can help your family.