Choosing the Right Troubled Teen Program

Is your teen acting up, behaving recklessly and rebelliously? Is he endangering himself and others and getting himself into trouble with the law? Is he hard to control and has become characteristically defiant and uncooperative? Are the disciplinary measures you have implemented becoming less and less effective? It may be time to consider help your child – help that comes in the form of a troubled teen program.

With the number of options available, though, how can you decide which program provides the best fit for your child? Here are some short descriptions of troubled teen programs that you can avail for your teen:

  • Teen summer camp. Teen summer camps are great ways for a teen to spend the school break productively and enjoyably. These camps are commonly located in a location with easy access to the outdoors – lakes, mountains, etc. Summer camps can provide physical challenges, recreational activities (i.e. music, arts and crafts, writing) and opportunities to socialize. Summer camps usually run from one week to six weeks.
  • Boot camp. This 6 to 8-week long program is very similar to military boot camp, with an emphasis on stretching and challenging the physical prowess of the teen, coupled with a structured day. Boot camp with its “drill sergeants” and military-style environment aims towards instilling a respect for authority, responsibility, discipline and self-control. With boot camp, parents are only given a schedule where they can visit and contact their children, giving parent the time and the “break” by which they can also establish any broken relationships and ground rules. A boot camp is ideal for those who are struggling with authority. This not suited for teens who have emotional issues such as depression or substance abuse since there is no therapeutic component to the program.
  • Wilderness therapy program. These are very similar to boot camp, but with an emphasis on using the natural environment to challenge the teen and help him take a closer look at his behavior and its effect on himself and others. This type of program typically runs from 6 to 8 weeks and will usually be physically demanding, with challenges linked with rewards. During these activities, teens will need to establish discipline, self-control and a recognition that he needs help from others and that others need his help as well. With this program, there will be counselors who are trained in guiding the teen towards self-discovery – looking at problematic attitudes and behaviors. A wilderness therapy program, because of the physical exertion involved, is not ideal for those who are physically vulnerable.
  • Therapeutic boarding school. This is a long-term program, where students are expected to stay for at least 1 semester, though some centers will require a longer enrolment. This program may provide therapeutic treatment, socialization skills and tools, as well as an academic program. Therapeutic boarding schools will have a licensed therapist to provide individual and group therapy sessions. Meanwhile, their academic program (or an affiliation with an online school or nearby school) will ensure that the teen is able to catch up with his studies. A therapeutic boarding school is ideal for those with serious emotional or behavioral issues, as well as those who have learning disabilities.


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