Choosing a Troubled Teen Program

troubled teen program

There are hundreds of programs and schools for troubled teens so it can be a daunting task to find the right one for your teen. A good place to start is by making a list of your teens’ specific needs.

What are your main concerns?

  • Drug or Alcohol use
  • Sexual promiscuity
  • Running away
  • Gangs
  • Friends who are a negative influence
  • Defiance and uncontrollability
  • Trouble with the law
  • Grades falling
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Abandonment or adoption issues
  • Poor social interaction
  • Emotionally troubled
  • Occult involvement
  • Narcissistic behavior

Now let’s consider the types of programs available.

  • Wilderness Programs and/or Boot Camps
    • Troubled teens may be enrolled without their consent and cannot be expelled.
    • The programs maintain security so teens cannot run away and there is no access to drugs or alcohol.
    • This type of program typically addresses emotional issues and emphasizes personal growth. There is no academic program and since the teens are there for a relatively short time, there may not be a long term success. Some parents choose to enroll their teen in one of these programs and then, upon completion, transfer the teen to a more long term program. Group counseling and/or therapy may or may not be available. There are no local parent support groups and parents and families are not involved in the program.
  • Therapeutic Boarding Schools and/or Residential Treatment Centers
    • Troubled Teens may be enrolled without their consent and cannot be expelled.
    • Security is maintained so Teens are unable to run away or gain access to drugs or alcohol.
    • Group counseling and individual therapy are available.
    • The 12 step program is also available.
    • Girls and Boys are kept separate from each other.
    • These programs also address emotional issues and emphasize personal growth. Some programs for troubled teens involve the whole family in the healing process and consequently see a high rate of long-term success. Additionally, some programs have local support groups which can be immensely helpful.
  • Nonpublic Day Schools
    • If academic problems are the only concern, these schools are generally an excellent choice. They can provide more individual attention to a teen than the local public schools and can allow the teen to advance at his or her own speed due to smaller class size.
  • Outpatient and Day Treatment
    • If your teen has a problem with drug or alcohol addiction and is willing to cooperate with this type of program they can be successful. However, if the teen does not have a desire to participate or is not willing to make necessary changes in peer group, this may not be the best idea.
  • Summer Camps and Programs
    • Again, the teen will need to commit to making the necessary changes. If your teen has a sincere desire to be helped to conquer his or her addiction, this may be a good placement.

Now that you have chosen the type of program needed for your troubled teen it’s time to shorten the list of possible choices. Here are a few considerations:

  • Do you want the program to be in the United States or would you prefer a foreign location? There are advantages to both. For some teens, a foreign placement makes it easier to make the lasting changes they need to make. Another benefit of a foreign placement is lower costs due to the exchange of currency.
  • You will want to obtain copies of the school’s written policies and procedures. Read them carefully and make a list of questions to ask when you next contact the school. You need to learn how the program meets the specific needs of your troubled teen. Your questions might include:
    • How long has the program existed?
    • What licenses does the school have?
    • Is the school accredited? (if it is an academic program)
    • How many teens are enrolled at one time?
    • What is the teen to staff ratio?
    • What is the level of security?
    • How often do the parents have contact with the school, with the teen?
    • Does the program have the level of parent support you need?
    • What is the method of discipline?
    • Is medication accepted for your child?
    • Is there a doctor available? What about Dental, Orthodontics, Dermatologist, etc.

Once you have chosen the program that is right for your troubled teen, it’s time to consider the logistics. Since most troubled teens don’t choose to go willingly, there are people with whom you can arrange safe transport. This isn’t an easy time but there are people who can help and the benefits to your teen are incalculable.

Choosing a Troubled Teen Program Sources:

  • Mt. Carmel Youth Ranch (online)
  • Tranquility Bay (online)