If your child is new to treatment, you’re likely left with some confusing feelings.
Suddenly, your house may seem unnervingly quiet. You may feel ambivalent or guilty. You may feel profound relief. You may finally have the space you’ve needed to feel incredible grief. There may be concerns over finances or other family members finding out about your family’s difficulties.
It’s never easy to send your child away, especially when you’ve spent the previous months or years in a state of alarm and crisis.
Despite how challenging this transition can be, a few simple coping techniques can help you make your way through the difficult emotions so that you can quickly and fully engage your child’s treatment process.
- Breathe: When we become stressed, we sometimes literally forget to breath. When breathing becomes stiff, our stress levels increase. Yoga is, perhaps, the best way to learn how to breathe in such a way as to regulate stress. Many therapists now use yoga and other eastern mindfulness techniques as a mainstay for treating emotional dysregulation and stress.
- Find a Confidante: You can’t do this alone. Find someone outside of your family system (i.e. who’s not immersed in the same stressful situation) whom you trust and ask if you can just download your thoughts and feelings from time to time. If you don’t have this kind of friend, a good therapist can serve this purpose as well.
- Journal: Writing can help you process those feelings that aren’t clear so that you’re better able to express yourself to others (your confidante, spouse, therapist, and child). It can also give you a safe place to vent that won’t leave others reeling from your raw and unedited emotions.
- Do Your Work: Any time a member of the family requires treatment, the whole family stands to benefit from support. That’s because families function as systems in which every part impacts every other part and the whole. Your child isn’t the problem. Instead, your child is entangled in a problem that also entangles you; so her time in treatment is the best opportunity for you to engage in your own process of healing, therapy, and personal growth, whatever form that might take.
- Cultivate Hope: Remember that your reason for sending your child to treatment was based on love and the hope that a solution exists. Nurture that hope by imagining and expecting a positive outcome. That hope will come across to your child and will help you engage the experience more effectively.