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Transporting Your Defiant Teen to Treatment – Transition Teams & Success Stories

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Mary Warren

Therapeutic Consultant
and Parenting Coach

Working with Transition Teams

Over 75% of teens with mental health struggles don’t get the help they need. If your defiant teen is one of them, sending them to a residential treatment center may be the answer, but please understand that there’s a high likelihood that they won’t go willingly. I understand that fear — I’ve been there! This is where transition teams come in. They offer a safe and compassionate solution, ensuring safe transport to the treatment center 

Facing the decision to send your defiant teen to a residential treatment program can be overwhelming, especially when they refuse therapy. Would you be able to convince them to travel to a residential treatment program and agree to participate and accept the help you are offering?

Only you know the likelihood of that scenario, but for those whose child simply won’t agree, it is good to have the option. There’s controversy with this approach, but there are also many success stories of families just like yours who used a transition team and are glad they did. I, for one, had no choice when I had to enroll my own child in a therapeutic program. 

This introduction guides parents through the emotionally charged process, highlighting the role of transition teams. These teams specialize in navigating these challenging moments with compassion and expertise, ensuring a safe journey for your teenager to their new beginning.

It’s a critical step not only for your child’s future but also for restoring peace and balance within your family. Let’s explore how transition teams might provide an answer. Contact me for a consultation today. 

Understanding Teen Oppositional Defiance

What if my teen absolutely refuses to attend residential treatment?

Curious about the transformative power of therapeutic boarding schools? Discover the real-life journey in Why I Sent My Out of Control, Troubled Son, to Therapeutic Boarding School blog post and gain valuable insights today!”

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One of the questions that I hear the most from parents when they are considering enrolling their child into a program is,

“What if they refuses to go”?

“How can I get my child to boarding school, if he won’t even go to school, counseling, or come home? She refuses to even get in the car with me to go anywhere let alone agree to go into a residential program that we have chosen for her.”

The truth is that when parents are at this stage, their kids have usually been in refusal mode for a long time. Getting their teen to agree to do anything has become nearly impossible. The last thing they want to do is leave their environment where they are in control. By definition, an out-of-control teen typically comes and goes as they please, smokes weed/cigarettes, and plays video games for hours on end. They have not gone to school and have not followed any rules.

Troubled teenagers don’t believe there are any issues. The fact that they lie, manipulate, and are belligerent is not an issue for them. In fact, they usually believe that if there are any issues, it’s all their parents’ fault for not understanding them and letting them make their own decisions.

What exactly is a transition team, and what do they do?

When a teen absolutely refuses to go to necessary treatment, a transition team offers safe and sometimes an essential solution. These teams specialize in transporting resistant teens to treatment programs. Parents contract them, and therapeutic or educational consultants can often help you select a trusted and experienced team. 

How they work and what to expect: 

  1. Preparation and planning: They should work closely with you and the treatment center to coordinate a safe transportation plan. They should have a comprehensive understanding of your child’s specific situation and potential resistance points, ensuring your input is valued and considered.
  2. Transportation and communication: Expect two trained professionals, experts in de-escalation and crisis communication. They will arrive unannounced to minimize resistance. There are many concerns online about this approach, and truthfully, your child’s actions and refusal to cooperate make it a bad situation as is; there are times when there aren’t other safe choices. 
  3. Safe transport:  The team physically transports the teen to the treatment facility; depending on the distance, it can be a plane or a road trip.  Whichever method they use they always focus on your child’s safety. You can be confident that they know how and are prepared to handle resistance and always prioritize your child’s well-being. 


Benefits of using a transition team for transport:

  1. Safety: These trained professionals will ensure a safe and controlled transport, minimizing risk for everyone involved. 
  2. Reduced Stress: Knowing that your child will arrive at the program safe and sound will reduce your stress and alleviate the emotional turmoil of dealing with a teen who is angry and does not want to comply with their parent.
  3. Increased Success: A smooth transition facilitates the likelihood of a positive outcome.   


In my over twenty years of working with parents, I have seen circumstances when using a professional team is necessary. However, this type of intervention should be a last resort. If you can communicate with your child and convince them that enrolling in a therapeutic school or an RTC is in their best interest, do so! It is always better if the child goes willingly. 

The Difficult Decision - Intervention for Safety

Is it an extreme measure? Only you know the answer because you know your child.  It can be the easiest and most compassionate way to get them to their new campus. If you send your daughter to a TBS or RTC, the team usually has two agents: one male and a female. Depending on the level of risk, there may be a third agent. 

In my experience, these teams come in, talk with your child, and explain in a very firm but compassionate way that they are going to a new boarding school or a treatment facility in a different state. They tell the child that they need to come with them.

Most of the time, there are no issues because your child will be very surprised and a bit scared. While this can be traumatic, the question is:  what will happen to your child if they do not attend? Some kids are on the edge and facing significant risks. Risk of getting hurt in ways they can not recover from, so this is an individual choice and a difficult one, but it could be the path to safety and healing. 

What to Expect from the Transition Team?

You will not be in the room as the parents when this happens. It usually takes about 10 minutes to go from the house to the vehicle. You will be able to say goodbye if your child is cooperating. If not, they will drive off and get them calmed down. That really is all it takes. Kind of like daycare drop-off when they were three. 

How Will the Transition Team Agents Respond to My Defiant Teenager?

The transition team, with their understanding and empathy, will calmly explain:

  • Their poor choices caused this, and the choices they make going forward will make the difference in getting them back home. 
  • In a thorough and detailed manner, the program that they will be attending and what to expect. So that by the time they arrive, your child will be well-informed and educated about their new therapeutic boarding school or residential treatment. 


Will your teenager be angry? Yes, most likely but they will be more informed. Most of the time, they are completely fine, compliant and relieved when they arrive at the campus.

I had to make this same decision with both of my kids who went into a program, and in hindsight, it was the best decision I’ve ever made. Not to say that there weren’t big challenges while on this journey, both emotional and financial, but the rewards ended up being priceless.

If you need help finding a transition team to transport your out-of-control teenager to a therapeutic boarding school or residential treatment program, contact me to schedule a consultation

I work with several transition teams that can help you and your teenage child. I can explain how it works and the associated cost and help you by scheduling the transport for your out-of-control teenager. 

Preparing for the Transition to a Residential Treatment Center: Tips for Parents

Preparing for the transition to a residential treatment program can be a challenging time for both parents and their troubled teens. Here are key tips to help families navigate this period:

1. Open Communication: Start dialogues about the benefits of the program, focusing on positive outcomes and personal growth.
2. Set Expectations: Clearly outline what the transition will involve, reducing uncertainty and anxiety.
3. Involve Your Teen in the Process: Allow them to have a say in preparations to foster a sense of control and cooperation.

4. Plan a Calm Departure: Organize a peaceful and respectful send-off to minimize stress for everyone involved.

These tips can help you smooth the process, ensuring it’s handled with understanding and care, benefitting both the teen and the rest of your family.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. If your teen is in crisis, explore all available options, including transport teams. Seek expert advice to make the best decision for your child’s future.

Success Stories: Positive Outcomes After Treatment

Discover how these family’s brave decision to send their daughter to a therapeutic program led to a life-changing transformation.

 Do you need to gain clarity and be more confident in your own parenting? Explore my parent coaching services today for guidance and support. Read more to learn how coaching can benefit you and your family.
Mary has been an absolute rock for us. She brings clarity and years of experience to the complex, confusing, and high-stakes process of helping our kid with multiple challenges. There have been countless times that we have been torn up about how to handle the numerous difficult decisions that have come up and just a few minutes of talking it through with Mary has made all the difference in the world. She is extremely professional, dedicated, and absolutely passionate about her work helping struggling teens and young adults, and she brought all of this to bear on our struggles. I recommend her to the highest degree possible. We feel extremely lucky to have her on our kid’s team!
We discovered Mary 5 years ago when our son was failing 9th grade, heavy into drugs and starting down a path with gangs, and there was nothing more we could do to help him. Here we are now, after two RTC's and two wilderness programs with a son who graduated high school and is working full time. Mary's advice was spot on at each turn in the road. Not sure where we would be without Mary and the focused programs she advised us on. And even though our son is on a good track, we continue to use Mary for coaching to make sure the whole family stays on track.
The best decision we ever made was engaging Mary Warren in the process. Mary took the time to get to know our situation on a personal level. She then utilized her skills, network, and experience to cut through red tape and facilitate placement options that would have been impossible to find on our own. During treatment, she was an active extension of our family, staying connected to the process every week, consulting with us as parents through the highs and lows, giving advice, showing compassion, and always reminding us that hope for a better future was real. It is rare to find a service provider where the term “exceeds expectations” is tangible, Mary and her team did just that. Highly, highly recommended. We are now in a stabilized phase with our son. Mary’s involvement in our lives was instrumental, we are eternally grateful.
Mary has been a fantastic support to us as we navigated wilderness, residential treatment and aftercare for our teenage son. She is knowledgeable and caring. Her advice has been spot-on time and time again. She has been a rock for us in this challenging journey towards healing for the whole family. I recommend her highly!
Sending our son to a therapeutic boarding school was the most significant decision my wife and I have ever made and I am so glad we had Mary’s help at every step of the way. Going this process on our own with our limited knowledge was not going to maximize our chances of success. We were fortunate to have found Mary of EmpowerMyTeen. Mary has deep knowledge of the schools available and was able to help us find one that fit our son well. There is so much information and misinformation out there and Mary helped us focus on the truth. We requested Mary’s services for placement services and coaching for the whole period that our son was in the program. Our son is home now and doing very well. The overall success our family had is as good as we could have hoped for and we give the credit to Mary and the wonderful staff of the school. Mary is professional, knowledgeable, experienced, kind and empathetic.

Parent Success Stories – Real results from struggling and at-risk teens

What Parents Say About Working with Mary Warren

Read inspiring testimonials and success stories from parents whose teens found a brighter future, and see how Mary can help your family find healing and hope. 


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Struggling to connect with your teen?
Feeling Helpless about their behavior?

Restore peace in your home and help your teen find their path to emotional and physical wellness. Get expert guidance on strategies to manage conflict and support your teen’s emotional growth. Don’t wait. Get the support you need today.

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