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Wilderness Programs and Teen Help

Teen Help with Wilderness Therapy


As a Parent Advocate and Family Consultant in the Teen Help Industry since 2001, there’s no secret -it’s a big business.

On a weekly basis we receive calls from parents that have parted with thousands of dollars after a conversation with someone that advises them that their teenager needs a wilderness experience. But how do you really know this? Take time to consider the following.

Wilderness programs, why are some people always so quick to say, “Your teen needs a good wilderness experience.”

Do you really understand what a wilderness program is? Do you understand that the majority of participants are asked to continue on to a Residential Treatment Center (RTC) or Therapeutic Boarding School (TBS) – which means your teen will be starting all over again with a new therapist as well as you paying all over again for start-up fees?

Why not start and finish in one place?

Some (if not most) Educational Consultants will tell you that your child needs to be broken down first and wilderness can do that.

In reality, any quality RTC/TBS is designed to help with these type of teens. Some of these RTC’s and TBS programs actually have the first 21-30 days that are like a wilderness however your teen is working with the same team of counselors they will be working with for the next 6-8-12 months.  Another words – it’s one program without changing staff or campuses, and you won’t be paying second fees.

Myths and facts of wilderness programs

Myth: Many parents are lead to believe that the majority of quality residential programs won’t accept a teen that hasn’t completed a wilderness program. That simply is not true.

Myth: Any teen that is using drugs needs to do a wilderness first. This is absolutely not true.

Myth: All teens do wilderness first, if not they won’t succeed. My educational consultant said so. Again, absolutely not true.

Fact: Wilderness programs are not necessary to enter a many quality therapeutic boarding schools and residential treatment centers.

Fact: Wilderness programs are an expensive band-aid. They will cost a family from $350-550 per day and the duration is about 4-9 weeks. The fact is — long lasting behavioral changes can’t take place in short-term programs. This is why the majority of students that attend wilderness programs transition on to a residential boarding school.

Consider this, it didn’t take 4-9 weeks to get to where you are today, it’s certainly not going to take 4-9 weeks to reverse that behavior – and have it stick! In interviewing parents, since 2001, that have used wilderness programs – the feedback has been consistent. Although many students have good experiences – it was never enough to change behavior. If they had it to do over – they would opt-out and go straight to residential therapy.

Fact: Teens need consistency. Program hopping is not beneficial to anyone (except the programs that are being paid – and the professional you are paying). Finding the one residential setting that can offer your teen long-lasting changes is likely best for the entire family. In many cases, they also have parenting workshops that bring the entire family back-together.

Be an educated parent, you will make wiser and better financial decisions for your family and teenager.

Contact us if you would like more information on Wilderness program alternatives such as short-term assessment program attached to a RTC/TBS  where your teen can stay with the same program if it’s determined they need more care. Not every teen needs a wilderness program or wilderness therapy.  You have choices.

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    "Just because your teen needs help, doesn't mean we're a bad parent or you're a failure."

    Every week we hear from parents wondering why their good teen is making not so good choices. No doubt the pandemic has added to the stress and frustration, but many have been struggling long before this crisis has hit.

    When your teen needs emotional help, it's not time for a blame game, it's time for action. #MentalHealth is crucial for #wellness and stability. Be an educated #parent. Read more:


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    The Stress of Online LearningEveryone is waiting for 2020 to be over, but probably no one is more anxious than teenagers and their parents.

    The spike in calls from parents that are completely exhausted from not only their daily parenting chores -- now they are managing educating their teen that is completely shutting down. It’s been a very difficult time between isolating from friends (and some family), forcing kids to wear masks (it’s just not their thing), and requiring them to social distance - which is really a hardship for them.

    Behavioral issues are spiraling and if they were having trouble before this pandemic, it is 100 times worse now.

    Defiance, disrespect, anger and rage

    Has your teen become defiant? Disrespecting you and your family? Do you feel like you’re walking on eggshells? Do they become explosive when you ask them to do something?

    You’re not alone.

    Let’s review ways to help.

    Things to avoid with teenage disrespect and defiance

    Arguing rarely works for parents or teenagers. When we get angry, we can say things we don’t mean. A more effective approach is to give yourself and your child some time to calm down.

    If you’re angry or in the middle of an argument, it will be hard to calmly discuss what you expect of your child. A more effective approach is to tell your child that you want to talk, and agree on a time.

    Being defensive is very rarely useful. Try not to take things personally. It might help to remind yourself that your child is trying to assert their independence.

    Even though you have more life experience, lecturing your child about how to behave is likely to turn them off listening. If you want your child to listen to you, you might need to spend time actively listening to your child.

    Nagging isn’t likely to have much effect. It might increase your frustration, and your child will probably just switch off.

    Sarcasm will almost certainly create resentment and increase the distance between you and your child.

    When to be concerned about teen defiance:

    If your child’s attitude towards you and your family doesn’t respond to any of the strategies suggested above, it might be a warning sign that there’s a deeper problem.

    You might also be worried if:

    there are changes in your child’s attitude or mood

    your child withdraws from family, friends or usual activities

    grades are dropping, underachieving in school

    loss of interest in his favorite activities (sports, hobbies)

    your child runs away from home or stops going to school regularly.

    If you’re concerned about your child’s behavior, here are some things you can do:

    Consider seeking professional support – good people to talk to include school counselors (most are still available - online), teachers and adolescent therapist.

    Discuss the issue as a family, and try to work out ways of supporting each other.

    Talk to other parents and find out what they do.

    If you are still struggling with your teen, it might be time to consider a therapeutic boarding school. It’s important to educate yourself on the choices you have - since you basically have a good teen making bad choices, and you don’t want to place them out of their element.

    Contact us for a free consultation - www.helpyourteens.com complete an intake form, all information is kept confidential and never sold to third parties.

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