Troubled Teen Programs: How to Know Yours Will Help

Whether your child suffers from depression, out of control behavior or drug addiction, you've probably been through the process of searching for troubled teen programs.

But with the endless amount of options out there, how do you know which is best for your child?

One of the most important concerns as a parent or guardian of a troubled teen is making sure they get the correct care they need. It's hard to know which route is best to take when it comes to saving your child. 

This is where you need to take a step back and look at the services your child really needs. 

You're probably wondering what makes each treatment program different from the other. We are here to tell you the specifics you need in order to make the right decision. 

The types of troubled teen programs offered 

Going through the process of finding a teen program that fits your child's needs can be tough. Common names you have probably come across are "teen therapeutic boarding schools," "teen boot camps," and "wilderness therapy programs."

Pretty much, you can choose from two different routes:

  • Troubled teen programs and boot camps, or 
  • Wilderness therapy programs and therapeutic boarding schools

The main difference between these two is that boot camps are much like military schools in that they can be much more intense with their combative discipline tactics. On the other hand, wilderness therapy programs aim for a therapeutic experience with a focus on psychological counseling. 

Examination and comparison of these two programs have shown the therapeutic route as the more effective option. Scientific studies of the adolescent brain have shown us that mental illnesses are viewed as developmental disorders that have their roots in the processes involved in how the brain matures. 

Wilderness therapy programs are tailored to each student's personality type and specific areas they struggle with. Ultimately, many results have shown that boot camps for teens are NOT the way to go

Once narrowing down the kind of troubled teen program you want to send your child to, you need to examine the different characteristics each one offers. 

Teen program consideration 1: Licensure and Accreditation

When sending your child away to a troubled teen program, you want to make sure the employees and the school have the credentials to provide the best care possible. 

First, find out if the program is accredited by the state (they should be). You'll want to find out which parts of the school are accredited. Is it the education, the counseling health, the residential aspect or everything?

You'll want to send your child to a program that offers academic credits. You'll also want to make sure these credits are transferable when their time in the program is done.

The last thing you'll want to deal with is having your child worry about going back to school and having enough classes to graduate, so make it part of the process. 

In wilderness therapy programs, the program should also be teaming up with governing organizations and outdoor conduct organizations in order to teach your child the best practices in treating the outdoors with the utmost respect. 

It's never bad to ask questions — find out who the state agency that issues certain programs their licensure to make sure you're getting all the facts. 

Teen program consideration 2: Access to Medical Care

Medical care and regular examinations are essential when searching for a troubled teen program.

Your child is struggling and going through serious changes in their life and they need doctors staying on top of their emotional and physical health. 

There should be access to a doctor or EMT 24-7 and whenever your teen feels necessary. The program should incorporate regular medical examinations as part of their process. 

Teen program consideration 3: Personalized Treatment 

Upon entering a troubled teen program, your child should have a formal evaluation by a licensed therapist. This will allow the therapist to get to know your child while planning out a treatment regimen tailored to their needs. 

Each child is different and no one treatment is going to save everyone. This is why personalized treatment is so important. Support for your child and maintaining that support plays a big role in helping your child adapt to their changing surroundings.

Support for your child and maintaining that support plays a big role in helping your child adapt to their changing surroundings.

While on this topic, you should also make sure the counselor or therapist seeing your child is properly educated. Do they have the appropriate degree, certification, and licenses?

Teen program consideration 4: Making sure the family is part of the process 

Including family involvement as part of your teen's intervention progress is a meaningful factor. Your teen doesn't want to feel that they are the outcast or alone in the process. They need their family with them. 

Part of the whole process is to ensure your teen comes back as a happy and healthy member of your family. Fostering the relationship between you and your child will provide for the best transition when the process is finished. 

Having family involved in therapy keeps both sides on the same page and as the sessions go on, each part of the family will begin to understand each other's issues, struggles, and goals. 

Family involvement is vital to the healing of your teen. 

Teen program consideration 5: Providing a smooth transition post-program 

So, it's time for your teen to graduate from their troubled teen program. We're sure your worst fear as a parent or guardian is: what if they come home and all of their progress goes away? 

This is where having a post-program process is necessary. Your teen will need on-going treatment to stay on top of their progress. 

Yes, wilderness therapy programs are set in place to develop your child into an emotionally stable person. It is part of the therapist's job to ensure your teen has the tools necessary to keep the positive progress going. 

Your family should receive specialized information and care procedures to support your child in their post-program transition. 

This is something that can make or break your child's progress. 

It's not easy to enter your child into a troubled teen program. No parent wants to do it. But, it's helpful to know the factors needed to make the process worth it. 

It's vital to your teen's development that you choose a program that's trustworthy, capable and properly skilled. Troubled teen programs have the power to change your teen's life and give your family peace of mind. 

Interested in looking into a therapeutic teen boarding school? Resolution Ranch Academy is a great option in inspiring growth and gratitude through family values, personal responsibility, and academic support.