Types of Adolescent Treatment Programs and Facilities
Types of Adolescent Treatment Programs and Facilities

Types of Adolescent Treatment Programs and Facilities

The Various Types of Adolescents Treatment Programs and Facilities

With American mental illness reaching epidemic heights, teenage boys are turning to self-destructive behaviors as a means of self-medicating, like never before. These millions of adolescent males are made up of mentally or behaviorally-ill young men who, thus far in life, have failed to receive adequate treatment for their underlying mental health-related disorder(s). Clinically, they are known as, troubled teens.

Troubled teens, especially in reference to boys, act on self-destructive behaviors, such as drug abuse, destruction of property, or committing acts of self-harm (just to name a few). As to why troubled boys turn to these types of out-of-control, self-defeating and sabotaging behaviors, the answer is simple. According to mental health professionals, troubled teens’ tendency to act out has to do with them expressing their unhappiness (typically caused by an underlying, mental health disorder) through rash and impulsive actions.

For example, troubled teenage boys have a tendency to isolate, push away, and develop an aversion to any type of authority figure, rather than opening up and exposing their vulnerability when suffering from their un-or-misdiagnosed mental health-related illness.

This type of fundamentally flawed model of thinking is what causes many troubled teens to turn to drugs and alcohol, or self-harm/mutilation as a means of alleviating their internal pain. Of course, when a troubled teenage boy resorts to self-medicating means such as committing dangerous, or even potentially fatal, behaviors, seeking immediate inpatient treatment for their child should be a parent’s number one priority.

It should also be noted that even if a troubled teen has yet to turn to such desperate means of escape that, if left untreated, mental health-related issues will almost certainly cause said teen to act on these self-destructive behaviors, eventually.  

Furthermore, for the safety of their child, parents of troubled teenage boys should take it upon themselves to seek out the most pragmatic treatment facility available. With this in mind, we at Family First AS, have provided parents with the following information regarding the most common, effective, and ineffective types of treatment programs for troubled teens.

After all, if a parent wants to choose the right facility, they first need to learn about the various types of troubled teen treatment programs, including their specific functions, treatment philosophies, and the mental health-related issues that each program specializes in treating.

The Four Most Common Types of Residential Treatment

Wilderness Camps - Wilderness therapy (also known as outdoor behavioral healthcare) is a short-term, adventure therapy treatment that typically includes some form of behavior modification. As the name suggests, what separates these types of programs from more traditional options is their location, which is located in the wilderness, several tens of miles away from any form of civilization.

Proponents of wilderness therapy claim that by overcoming the challenges that come with braving the wilderness, teens will learn and develop invaluable traits such as self-confidence, self-worth, teamwork and leadership abilities. Unfortunately, however, a significant amount of ‘wilderness therapy’ programs have come under fire as of late for lacking true mental health therapeutic services - These kinds of wilderness programs are labeled by professionals as ‘boot camps in the wilderness.' While the previous designation does not apply to all wilderness programs, prospective parents should be dubious and due-diligent in their research of any program classified as “wilderness therapy.”

Boot Camps/ Brat Camps - Boot camp ‘therapy’ is a behavioral modification technique that closely resembles that of a military camp. Also referred to as, ‘brat-camps,’ these facilities rely on behaviorally “shocking” troubled teens with disciplinary treatments that are uncomfortably reticent of a military boot camp. While this type of behavioral-conversion training works well in transforming everyday citizens into soldiers, most mental health experts believe this type of treatment is gravely ineffectual in treating mental health-related issues of troubled teens.

While boot camp-behavioral modification may yield temporary results regarding positively changing a troubled teen’s behavioral patterns, it is known to make behavioral issues even worse in the long-term. That being said, parents would be wise to stay away from these types of facilities when searching for effective treatment programs.

Therapeutic Boarding Schools - A therapeutic boarding school is a residential school that, in addition to providing traditional academic services, offers emotional, therapeutic, and behavioral therapy. Therapeutic boarding schools often cater to ‘troubled teens’ whose issues cannot be treated with traditional, outpatient therapies. Therapeutic boarding schools are designed to treat teens who suffer or struggle with emotional and mental health disorders, substance abuse, and other emotional and behavioral issues. However, most therapeutic boarding schools, like that of Family First, that contemporaneously cater to troubled teens who require both academic restoration in addition to psychiatric treatment for their underlying, mental health disorders.

Residential Treatment CentersResidential treatment centers for troubled youth, sometimes referred to as ‘teen rehab centers,’ are therapeutic facilities that provide clinical treatment for teens (typically ages 12-18) who suffer from mental health-related disorders such as oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), conduct disorder (CD), bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), substance abuse/addiction, and personality disorders. 

Generally speaking, RTC’s primarily provide behavioral management and treatment for troubled teens with mild-to-severe mental/behavioral health issues. While traditional RTC’s are clinically focused, there are facilities that offer additional services, such as academics. However, it should be noted that an RTC that offers academics is technically what behavioral professionals refer to as, a therapeutic boarding school - although many of these facilities choose to classify themselves as a residential treatment center.