Guidelines When Choosing a Military Program for Troubled Teens

When looking for a therapy program for your teen, you may come across listings for various residential programs like wilderness camps, residential therapy schools, military camps, or schools for troubled youth.

These programs, like troubled teens themselves, are not all created equal. There are some things to consider when choosing. If you are considering a military program, see below for some guidelines that can help you determine if your teen will benefit from this type of therapy.

Know the difference. Military schools and military therapy can have very different components. While they have similar programs such as physical training and survival skills, a military based therapy program will also include everything from academics to social interaction, as well as individual and group counseling.

Do your research. Make sure when you are looking online for military programs in your area that you are being thorough about everything from accreditation to personal reviews. Make sure the program is well established and learn about their success rates. You may even want to talk to a director about your specific case to see if the program is geared towards your particular situation.

Consider the special needs of your teen. Is your teen acting out violently, or is he/she more withdrawn? Do you suspect substance abuse or is that not an issue? When deciding if physical behavioral therapy which is found at a military-style program is going to be enough to help get your teen back on track, you’ll want to know if the program has exactly what your teen needs. Also, consider the medical issues your child may face in such a physically tasking environment and find out if the program can modify for those issues.

Check your state laws regarding these types of programs. What legal guidelines do they have to adhere to? You may be surprised to find that licensed counselors or even therapy, in general, may not be on the list. You will want to find a program that offers a caring, positive environment with individual and group therapy, and peers that can be supportive.

Consider alternatives. When parents feel helpless with a troubled teen, they can often jump to the strictest regimen they can think of in hopes to get results quickly. However, some teens may benefit more from something like a wilderness camp, a residential school or even just an outpatient therapist or online program for teens. Patience is always required when seeking help for a teen, and getting the right help can take weeks, months or even years depending on the situation. It’s important to create a safe space that they can grow and be away from their harmful environment.

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