Help for Parents of Troubled Teens Including Information on Boarding Schools, Residential Treatment Centers, Therapeutic Boarding Schools and Wilderness Therapy Programs
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Wilderness Therapy Programs

Ironwood Therapeutic Boarding School
"Want your child back?. . . we know how."
Ironwood offers the most clinically advanced therapeutic program for teens who abuse drugs, are defiant and disengaged. We have the expertise to help your teen succeed and reunite your family.

Find a Wilderness Therapy Program That's Right for Your Family

Wilderness therapy programs use the wilderness as a tool to quickly and effectively impact students/youth at risk. Experiential in nature, emotional growth wilderness programs provide struggling adolescents an opportunity to challenge themselves physically and emotionally while exploring the unhealthy behaviors that have prevented them from making progress in their lives. The wilderness program environment provides a supportive, non-judgmental arena in which students can process their limiting beliefs and core issues, and begin to view themselves and their abilities from a different perspective. The challenges inherent in a wilderness setting provide daily success experiences which serve to challenge old, negative beliefs and lead to new, more positive self-perceptions.

How Wilderness Therapy Works

Trained counselors work with students to help them recognize the long-term value of their wilderness therapy program experiences, and to assist in the development of strategies for applying its unique lessons to their daily lives. Students begin to learn to accept responsibility for their actions, and to better understand the correlation between cause and effect, action and reaction. By taking advantage of the heightened sense of awareness that an outdoor wilderness setting produces, students are guided
to a clearer sense of self, self-awareness, and self-confidence.

The majority of wilderness therapy programs' staffs include licensed clinical counselors responsible for screening applicants, and developing
and overseeing treatment plans for each student. Daily individual
and group therapy, and the opportunity for psychological testing are standard within the therapeutically oriented environment, and activities are specifically geared to facilitate personal growth and development.

Students exhibiting at-risk behaviors, including defiance, rebellion, running away, experimentation with drugs and/or alcohol, sexual promiscuity, poor performance in school, etc., are ideal candidates
for wilderness therapy programs. Proven successful in impacting
and helping students who have not responded to more traditional treatment programs, these wilderness therapy program environments provide students a solid foundation on which develop the values of responsibility, hard work, and respect of self and others. Additionally, such wilderness therapy programs serve as an excellent transitional step for children moving on to long-term therapeutic placements.

According the the National Association of Therapeutic Wilderness Camps, here are a few general questions you may want to ask when interviewing a potential wilderness therapy program for you child:

  • How long has the wilderness therapy program been in operation?
  • How long has the wilderness program been licensed? By whom? (What govt agency)
  • Is the wilderness therapy program affiliated with any professional organizations? which ones?
  • How many children is the program licensed for?
  • How many children are currently enrolled?
  • Describe your admission criteria.
  • How will I know my child is appropriate for this wilderness therapy program?
  • What type of supplies and clothing does a child need upon admission?
  • How often is the family contacted by the program with progress reports?
  • Are there currently any lawsuits against the program? Any in the last five years? If so, what for?
  • Has the program or any staff member ever been charged with physical or sexual misconduct against a child in the program? any program?
  • How often will the family be allowed to visit, phone, write while my child is in the program?
  • Does a child ever receive consequences? A group? If so, what do they consist of?
  • Are physical searches conducted? if so, how and by whom?
  • How is the educational program structured?
  • Will my child receive transferable credits?
  • What credentials are required of staff? Both direct care and administrators.

Find an Outdoor Wilderness Therapy Program

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