Help for Troubled Teens: Safe and Effective Troubled Teen Programs

wilderness therapyIf you have noticed that your teen has displayed signs of a teen in crisis, it is time to take the next steps. When your teen has issues that fall outside of the normal realm of teenage angst, a behavioral or clinical intervention may be necessary to obtain help for troubled teens.

Everyone has their own story, and the treatment you seek for your troubled teen will depend on the particular struggles that he or she is facing. While there are many troubled teen programs, the methods listed below, when practiced by an accredited professional, can all be highly effective in developing healthier thoughts, behavior, and emotions in teens. In many cases, a combination of methods may be optimal. Safe and effective treatment programs may utilize any of the following:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CBT involves a one on one relationship between patient and therapist, but goes beyond the scope of traditional talk therapy. It is a structured method that involves examining the thought processes that drive undesirable behavior. We often do things because of thought distortions and faulty beliefs that we may not be aware of. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy brings these thinking patterns to light and examines whether they are healthy and realistic or (as is often the case) irrational. Once the patient has awareness of the underlying beliefs that drive their behaviors, they are able to replace thinking errors with more healthy perceptions; thus leading to healthier behaviors. Through CBT patients feel quickly empowered to create lasting change.


This method focuses on a belief that all human life has meaning, and that strength can be drawn from the intrinsic human worthiness in each of us to find a clear sense of purpose. The technique involves ongoing dialogue between patient and therapist. The results can be highly effective in treating depression, anxiety, and behavioral issues.


This involves the patient undergoing hypnosis. Often utilized in conjunction with other types of therapy, hypnotherapy can be effective in creating change because it allows for direct communication with someone’s subconscious desires and beliefs. Because the state of hypnosis leaves the patient so suggestible, a skilled hypnotherapist can request desired changes and encounter less resistance than with traditional talk therapy.

Biofeedback Therapy

This treatment method involves connecting sensors to the body in order to understand how the mind influences the body. Once this connection is clearly understood by the patient, biofeedback allows him or her to develop control of autonomic functions (eg. heart rate, breathing rate) with thought. This type of therapy can be effective in treating anxiety and somatic disorders in particular.

Occupational Therapy

Young people with learning differences may benefit greatly from this type of therapeutic approach. Based on a patient’s particular challenges, Occupational Therapy focuses on mastering everyday activities and life skills. This improves overall functioning in education, career, self-care, etc.

Educational Therapy 

This type of interventional approach can be invaluable to young people with learning disabilities, particularly if they have not been diagnosed yet. Educational therapy focuses on identifying an individual’s learning challenges by accommodating the way the patient interprets information, and tailoring teaching methods to them as an individual.

Wilderness Therapy

This approach involves removing young people from the negative influences present in their everyday life and placing them in a natural setting to engage in self-exploration. Wilderness therapy treatment centers around natural consequences and taking full accountability for the poor choices that have led the patient to this point. This leads to personal empowerment and greater self esteem. Participants learn autonomy and responsibility, as well as developing psychological insight and improving physical health. This method is especially effective for troubled teens as it focuses on providing compassionate support while also promoting self efficacy.


In some cases, outpatient therapy alone is insufficient to provide help for troubled teens. For many troubled teens, a combination of behavioral and clinical interventions is required. While all of the treatment options listed above can be helpful, wilderness therapy provides the most comprehensive behavioral and clinical intervention, while integrating multiple therapeutic techniques. For these reasons, troubled teen programs that are built upon a foundation of wilderness therapy experience a robust level of success in offering help for troubled teens and their families.


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