Teen Programs

When nothing else has worked, it is time to take a look at teen programs...

I (Dr. Y) have worked with teens in college, private practice, and therapeutic boarding school settings. Teens tend to be very resistant to therapy unless they are forced into it. Even then, they still can be very resistant.

There is the old joke about how many therapists it takes to change a light bulb--only one, but the light bulb really has to want to. This is certainly the case with teens.

Teens, as do many adults, tend to blame everybody else and refuse or strongly resist taking responsibility for their actions and behaviors. It seems to be an endless stream of Victim statements:

  • They made me do it! 
  • It is not my fault! 
  • It's his/hers, the teachers, your, etc., fault.
  • It's stupid!

Denial is a way of life for them.

Then there is the family dynamics. Many parents bring their teens to me with a "here-fix-him/her" attitude. The teen is the problem, they say. Bad news, it is the whole family system that needs adjusting, not just the teen. The teen did not get here by him/herself.

As a therapist at a therapeutic boarding school, I saw teens come to us, and we would work our magic on them. It would take anywhere from 12-24 months. We emphasized to our parents the importance of getting their own therapy while their teen was with us. Some did, many did not.

The child would finish our program and be in a pretty good place. Then he would return home to essentially the same home environment and family system that he left. In a short period of time, all our good work was for naught as the teen fell back into the old behavioral patterns of his dysfunctional family system.

By the time they are a teens many of the dysfunctional behavior patterns are pretty well ingrained. They know how to push their parents button and manipulate to get what they want. Why should they change? They are getting what they think they want, i.e. their way.

At this point, the parents and teen need a major time out. They need a separation. The family environment has become so toxic no forward progress is possible. Enter programs....

I have "hands-on" experience with Wilderness Programs and Therapeutic Boarding School. Be aware there are other types of programs out there. Which program is right for your teen? This is where Educational Consultants can be very helpful.

Educational Consultants

The doorway to finding the right program for your teen is through a group of professionals known as Educational Consultants. I have had the honor of working with some first rate "Ed Cons", as I call them. I have also worked with a few "doosies". On this page, you will find some of the ones I have worked with and can recommend...

Wilderness Programs

These are six-to-eight week programs (usually) in which the teens spend most of their time camping out in the wilderness under very primitive conditions. These are great for taking the "starch" (a.k.a. resistance) out of the teen and getting their attention...

Therapeutic Boarding Schools

These programs run from 12-24 months usually. While attending teens continue their academic studies and undergo intensive therapy. The whole environment works to promote therapeutic change...

Additional Resources

What Now?: How Teen Therapeutic Programs Could Save Your Troubled Child by Paul Case

A list of additional readings in a wide variety of teen areas can be found on our Additional Readings webpage.

Teen Programs Index