Troubled Teen Programs to Choose From

The tumultuous teenage years need plenty of love and patience, as well as a firm yet gentle hand that can lead a troubled teen towards the road to maturity and independence. Often, for more at-risk teens therapeutic intervention may be necessary by way of a troubled teen program. Fortunately, parents now have a wide range of choices. Your choice may depend on which type of treatment you feel your teen will best respond to.

Here are some troubled teen services parents can choose from:
– Teen wilderness program. Set in a remote outdoor location, the principle of the program is based on physical activities performed in a new, unfamiliar and wilderness setting. This type of program is usually 2 to 3 months long and will involve a lot of outdoor activities such as hiking, camping or white river rafting. The wilderness serves to remove the teen from negative influences and provide an invigorating change in environment that can help a teen in his process of self-discovery from a different perspective. Meanwhile, the combination of a rugged natural environment, physically challenging individual and team-based activities and moments of quiet and introspection are aimed towards helping a teen evaluate past decisions and behavior and set goals for the future. Parents have the option of enrolling the teen into a long term program after the wilderness program is finished.
– Therapeutic boarding schools and other residential programs. These schools provide a combination of therapy for a teen’s issues, as well as an academic program. This allows a teen to thresh out behavioral and emotional problems and at the same time, perform some school work. Since some of these boarding schools are fully accredited schools, a teen may also graduate from the boarding school. Otherwise, the teen can get caught up with missed school work so that when he goes back to his school, he has caught up with any incomplete school work. The ultimate goal of the residential treatment is to help a teen eliminate bad habits, develop new, positive ones and learn to develop their own personal targets as a more confident, mature individual who is actively seeking his place in the world. The boarding school is usually marked by a high-security environment, where access to alcohol or drugs is strictly prohibited. The program is at least 12 months long. Students may be enrolled without their consent.
– Day or outpatient treatment. This is primarily for teens who have a problem with alcohol, drugs or gangs. This involves regular meetings with a therapist, while the teen is living at his home. The counselor helps by threshing out issues that are the root of the troubled teen’s behavior. The key to the success of this program is the teen’s willingness to cooperate and readiness to benefit from the treatment. Otherwise, the teen can simply be apathetic during visits or manipulate treatment time so that visits are used up without actually threshing out his inherent issues.
– Animal-assisted therapy. By playing and working with horses, canines and other animal friends, the aim of this treatment is for the teen to come to a deeper insight of himself. The bond that grows between humans and animals is seen to promote the healing of emotional scars that may be the root cause of behavioral problems. Some activities include taking care of the animals (feeding and grooming). As the teen takes care of the animals, he learns to set aside personal issues, to focus on the task at hand and to communicate in non-verbal ways. The animals, especially the horses, also tend to reflect the mood their carer is in so the teen learns to control his outbursts while taking care of the animals entrusted to him. The act of communing with the animals and the need to take command are aimed to raise the teen’s self-esteem and develop a sense of responsibility. Other skills that the program aims to build include patience, self-control and being assertive. There will also be a therapist on hand to help the teen explore and process behaviors as well as recognize patterns that may be unhealthy. As with outpatient therapy, animal-assisted therapy requires the cooperation of the teen for its success.
– Teen military program. This is a training that has been known for its positive effects on teens with substance use and truancy issues, as well as problems with authority. Lasting from 16 to 24 months, this mimics a boot camp, along with Army-style training and discipline. Some examples include early wake up calls, strenuous exercise, taking commands from a “drill sergeant”, high standards of personal neatness and other activities in a very structured environment. Some military programs also have academic training aimed towards a GED or acquiring a certain job skill. The program strictly prohibits the use of social media and cell phones.

Aside from these, there are faith-based programs that may use any of the above treatment styles. There are also summer camps and nonpublic day schools.

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