It was the worst day of my career.
I was an owner/therapist of a successful adolescent wilderness treatment program. Each week my students were waiting and anxious to start our sessions, as they viewed me as the guy holding their ticket to home. I was given credit for the rapid change happening, when it really should have gone to the student, the talented field staff and Mother Nature. Tremendous strides were made in a relatively short period of time.
But then it happened. One of my star students graduated, went on to a year of residential treatment, and within one month of returning home, he reverted back to his old behaviors. When his mother called me in tears, I jumped on a plane and flew out to their home.
I believed that if we could just see one another, when I reminded him of the goals he'd set and how far he had come, we'd get things back on track. But the young man locked himself in his room and refused to see me. He was ashamed of the fact that after all he'd accomplished, and with everything his family had invested, things were coming unraveled.
These loving, committed parents had fulfilled every assignment: Built a home contract, dutifully attended family therapy together, sent him to weekly individual therapy, and everyone participated in a 12 Step program. We were trying to fill the gap with traditional therapy approaches. But it wasn't what was needed. I felt like if this kid--in this family--couldn't hold it together, who could? I had nothing more to offer.
On the plane ride home I came to the sickening realization that if these were the results, I wasn't interested in being part of the status quo. I became a therapist because I believe people can change. I'm also a 100% believer in the positive power of families and communities.
As a result of that difficult experience, I sold the business, and set out to focus exclusively on the role the family and the real world environment plays in a young person's treatment success.
With no practical, personal experience, I went to the research. Sure enough, family engagement during treatment, the structure and stability of the real-world environment, and the participation of the family in aftercare were huge determining factors in long-term treatment success. Sold! I had the research to back me up.
So I set out on a mission to offer every family quality aftercare support for their treatment journey.
Fast forward to today. Nearly 15 years after innovating the worldwide, aftercare services of Homeward Bound, where our expert Transition Coaches support families with teens and young adults leaving treatment, we are realizing the dream that the Not by Chance Parent Program offers.
And that is this. That no matter what the presenting issues were, where the family lives, or what the budget is, families can access the model, curriculum, and tools developed from the time, work and success experienced in the living rooms of over 1,000 families.
Now I'm a family man myself, and parenting has proven to be the most challenging role in my life. But I can be taught. And so can you.
I'm glad you're here, because family success is the success that matters.