At-risk and traumatized youth present with symptoms that get in the way of their success in their families, schools, and communities.

These young people benefit from a variety of treatments with many professionals and family members contributing to their health and well-being. Evidence-based, individualized strategies for planning and coordinating intensive care can make a profound difference in outcomes for these teens and their families. One important thing we’ve learned in our decades of experience is that it takes a team to help a troubled young person succeed in life.

Team strategy focuses more attention on the family’s role in a young person’s transformation. We accept the fact that families can feel overwhelmed by the treatments they encounter upon entering a residential facility. As we confront destructive behaviors such as drug use and mental health issues, families sometimes confess to feeling judged, or inadequate. The team approach helps the family focus on the needs of the youth and learn to communicate those needs to therapists and other team members.

This strategy is helpful from residential care through discharge since the youth can resume the behaviors that derailed their lives in the first place when they return to their homes. This can be mitigated by ongoing outpatient programs and intensive attention from the family.

It’s not always easy. Sometimes difficult changes are necessary, including changes in social circles. But if properly managed, evidence indicates that the coordination of therapies and family support can make an enduring difference from residential care through transition management.

The clinical focus on at-risk youth has oftentimes been short-term. The assessment and treatment plan can be one dimensional, concentrated on the current problem, with medical models used to circumvent the abnormal or destructive behaviors. The team approach emphasizes incremental steps and utilizes the strengths and influence of everyone involved in the teen’s life and treatment.

In many cases, family members begin to realize that their guilt and feelings of helplessness are not accurate or productive. They understand that their daily involvement can make a profound difference. Similarly, each clinical, therapeutic and support team member realizes that their involvement in the plan can help, and can restore the youth’s ability to trust.

When everyone supports the plan – encouraging the youth, cheering their successes and comforting them during difficult times – the chances of success are greatly increased.

Mr. Woods is a former NFL player, and was ranked 5th in the world in the 100-meter dash. He understands the benefits of teamwork.