Wilderness programs have often been one of the foremost choices for parents who want to give help to their defiant teens. There are many kinds of wilderness programs, some of which provide therapy, some are therapeutic in nature. Finding the right wilderness programs for troubled teens is very important if you want to give the right kind of help for your child.
Different Wilderness Programs
Nature by itself is already therapeutic, which is why some wilderness programs self-identify as therapeutic programs. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they provide psychotherapy to people who participate in these programs. For example, some wilderness programs are boot camps in wilderness settings. While the setting of the program could be therapeutic in one sense, boot camps don’t provide therapy. The goal, which is behavior modification, is then attained through intimidation, confrontation, physical and emotional punishment, and the likes.
Psychotherapy is an integral part of finding help for defiant teens. What determines the success of wilderness programs for troubled teens is the quality of therapy they receive. The wilderness provides a framework for a unique kind of therapy that uses nature as part of the treatment process. However, the quality of psychotherapy will still determine how fruitful time spent in the program will be.
Why use nature as a framework for psychotherapy?
There are some lessons that nature teaches best. In a manner of speaking, it softens the ground in order for teens to be more receptive to psychotherapy. Defiant teens are naturally more resistant to human authority figures. Wilderness therapy gives the benefits of psychotherapy without being in a clinical, restrictive environment. Teens feel safer and less restrained in an outdoor environment. Aside from that, it also introduces the force of nature into the scenario.
Nature is relentless, it cannot be bribed, manipulated, or negotiated with. Defiant teens learn lessons from nature about cause and effect and personal responsibility. If they refuse to listen to instructions on how to start a fire, they can’t cook their meals while outdoors, they can’t stay warm during the night. If they don’t pick up their weight and learn how to pitch their tent, they would sleep without shelter that night.
In order to accomplish a task, teens need to work and communicate with other teens. This entails learning constructive ways to be assertive, solve a problem, take the lead if necessary, and express frustration without being destructive. Having to live with other people who are not family members also encourages teens to develop some personal responsibility.
There’s also the fact that there are less distractions than they usually contend with in a home environment. There’s no TV, video games, mobile phones or internet in wilderness programs for troubled teens.
There are a lot of good wilderness programs for troubled teens that can give your child the help that he/she needs. They have an admissions or screening process in place to determine whether your child can really be helped by their program. It’s a good first step towards your teen’s healing.