"Our 16 yr old daughter has been acting out in all of the ways you have described in the introduction. She now wants to move out, go on welfare and share an apartment with a guy have never met who is a few years older than her. We have asked her to leave our home for a week this summer because we had reached our limit. She stole from us yet again a significant amount of stuff. She came back wanting to really try to make things work but now wants to move out. What do you suggest?"
I would say 16-years-old is a bit young for moving out. You are legally responsible for her until she turns 18. So if you had written this 2 years from now, I'd write a totally different answer.
First and foremost, simply work through the 4-week program for now. You are currently only into week #1. Only do one session per week – and be sure to watch ALL the Instructional Videos.
Having said that, I think you should call her bluff... if you don't help financially the going will be tough. Don't argue, flatter her a bit (that will catch her off guard), and tell her that she is intelligent and mature and that if she is confident she can manage on her own, then you will support the decision. Tell her that you won't give any financial help and that you will miss her terribly, then sit back and wait. By leaving the decision-making up to your daughter, you will have given her a way to back down without losing face. She is likely to find the responsibility a bit scary, and when she realizes you are giving her the freedom to make her own decisions – she might think twice.
If she does choose to leave - she will be back sooner than later (with a bit more humility this time).
Do not save her from making poor choices. It is the only way she will learn life’s lessons.
Mark Hutten, M.A.