Involuntary Youth Transport (IYT) to Treatment Programs: Best Practices, Research, Ethics, and Future Directions




Gass, Michael
Hardy, Clinton
Norton, Christine
Priest, Simon

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Involuntary youth transport (IYT) is a controversial practice used to admit adolescents into residential care. Critics point out that IYT is in need of regulation and is best used as a last resort. This article examines the risks and benefits of IYT, especially the longterm effects on the client, in order to ensure that all facets of a client’s treatment are trauma-informed and guided by research-based practices and ethical principles. Practices that re-traumatize youth need to be replaced with informed practices that facilitate positive outcomes. This article utilizes an ethical decision-making framework developed for behavioral health professionals to assess and improve the ethical use of IYT. Based on this ethical framework, a more effective and collaborative model is presented that results in less restrictive approaches, greater levels of willingness by the adolescent to enter treatment, and trauma-informed management of difficult emotional or physical behaviors. This model also guides professionals and caregivers on how to proceed when IYT services are deemed necessary. The article presents past research and addresses ethical guidelines and best practices for IYT. Steps for practitioners and future directions are discussed.



adolescent treatment, involuntary, Transport, behavioral healthcare, ethics, Social Work


Gass, M., Hardy, C., Norton, C., & Priest, S. (2021). Involuntary youth transport (IYT) to treatment programs: Best practices, research, ethics, and future directions. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal.


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