Do you have a teen who is out of control ? Do you think that the answer is to send her/him to a boot camp for teens ? Many families mistakenly think that if they can’t control their child, that they need a program that will be restrictive and which may even turn out to be punitive. It is not hard to control poor behaviour in a child if you scare them, but do you really want to do that to your child ? Wouldn’t you prefer to have your child internalize real change in a positive loving fashion where fear has no place ?
As an educational/therapeutic consultant who has worked in this field for over 14 years, I have seen how trends have changed. Years ago, recommendations for a teen who was acting out was for a boot camp for teens. In fact it was often considered routine practice if you were going to send a child to an out of home placement. However, times change, as do recommendations for the appropriate course of treatment. More often now, a boot camp for teens has been replaced by a therapeutic wilderness program instead. Again, there are many types of therapeutic wilderness programs and there are many types of therapists who work in them. I like to choose not only the correct wilderness program for my families but also the correct therapist for that child as well. These programs are costly and most of my families have already been working with very good therapists in their home towns. I need to make sure that the therapist that their child is going to work with in a wilderness program is at least as strong as their home therapist.
Therapeutic wilderness programs are often a good first step to create a blueprint of a child’s therapeutic needs. The initial therapeutic impact of a wilderness program is often faster and more intense than in a long term treatment facility. You still may need to follow up with a longer term placement, to enable the student to practice the therapeutic skills he has learned in the wilderness, but it often gets rid of some of the initial resistance to treatment. More importantly, it tends to builds hope for the family and for the child that change really can occur. Now that there are so many wonderful options from which to choose, why would anyone want to look back when the only option for a child was a boot camp for teens ?