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Where Can I Send a Troubled Teenager? 4 Types of Facilities for Troubled Youth

where can i send my out of control teenager

Adolescence is a period of critical development. On top of the many physical changes that happen during the teenage years, adolescents are also beginning to establish independence and break into young adulthood. This is the time in which teenagers start to separate from their parents, push new boundaries, and take steps to establish their own identities. During this process, teenagers will often become more defiant, strong-willed, sensitive, and drawn to risk-taking behaviors as they carve their own paths. This is normal—to a point. Some teenagers may exhibit more troubling behaviors (such as frequent substance abuse, violence, self-harm, excessive anger, and criminal acts), which are cause for parents’ concern. If your teen is exhibiting signs of troubled behavior, and you may be seeking advice on where to send your teen. Are there facilities for troubled youth that you can turn to for help?

When parents reach their limit, and have failed to help their teen at home, there are professional intervention options available. Below, we detail some common facilities where you can send a troubled teenager who has branched out of your control.

Types of Treatment Facilities for Troubled Youth

  1. Residential Treatment Centers:

Residential treatment centers are the most widely recommended facilities for troubled youth. While their programs can vary, residential treatment centers are typically designed to help youth overcome struggles with mental health and substance abuse. They are called “residential” centers because teenagers live on-site, at the facility, while they are receiving treatment.

The residential treatment model is aimed at providing teenagers the time and space they need to work through their issues. They are separated from everyday distractions, temptations, and the triggers that hinder their overall wellbeing. They can focus on their healing in a dedicated facility, surrounded by a 24/7 support staff, clinicians, and peers walking in similar shoes.

Residential treatment and rehab centers are not hospitalized settings. While there are therapeutic and clinical components involved, these facilities are also equipped with comfortable living quarters, fun recreational events, relaxing activities, nutritious meal preparation, and a community of teens and young adults supporting one another. At a residential treatment center for youth, you may also find:

  • Academic counseling and support: Although a teen is going to live at their treatment facility, it does not mean they need to put their studies on hold completely. Many residential rehab programs will offer academic support and tutoring services to help teens continue classes, manage transcripts, prepare for college, and more.
  • Family therapy: Family is an essential component of a teen’s success in treatment. At Turnbridge, we empower family members to become a part of the healing process, through family therapy, education, training, and support while their teen is away.
  • One-to-one counseling: In residential programs, teens participate in one-to-one counseling and therapy sessions, where they can work through their problems, learn coping strategies, establish goals for treatment, and more.
  • Group therapy: Group therapy is also an important aspect for teens, where they can interact with other youth in recovery and hear others’ stories and perspectives during the process.
  • Holistic activities: Residential treatment centers want youth engaged with their recovery, and will provide healthy, holistic activities to improve their wellbeing. At Turnbridge, this includes yoga, fitness, meditation, art or music, and more.
  • Experiential therapies: Specialized experiential therapies are another way to engage teens in the treatment process, and can involve hikes, rock climbing, kickboxing, snowshoeing, art workshops, and more.

Residential treatment programs for troubled teenagers can vary in length, generally lasting at least 90 days. However, longer treatment programs are associated with better treatment outcomes. At Turnbridge, we use a specialized EMPWR Care Model to understand each clients’ health and measure their progress, to best optimize their treatment plan as they work through the recovery process.

  1. Therapeutic Boarding Schools:

Therapeutic boarding schools are another type of residential facility designed to help troubled teenagers. However, as the name implies, they are highly academic focused. Therapeutic boarding schools are a common option for youth who have struggled academically due to mental health challenges, behavioral and conduct disorders, and/or learning difficulties. 

At a therapeutic boarding school, you will find academic classes for adolescents, according to their grade level and individual needs. You may also find some rehabilitative services, such as mental health counseling, to help students overcome the issues that are hindering their academic achievement. Teens live at these schools and follow a strict regime throughout the day. This structure is aimed at providing teens with discipline, purpose, and accountability as they navigate the recovery process.

  1. Wilderness Programs: 

Teen wilderness programs are short-term programs that focus on experiential therapy to help troubled teens. Experiential therapies, as suggested above, take a hands-on approach to recovery and allow teenagers to get outside and to get moving, promoting stronger mental and physical health. They typically take place in isolated settings, such as in the mountains, with no exposure to mainstream society or the digital world. 

During wilderness programs, teenagers learn how to take care of themselves in the wilderness, as well as learn discipline. They learn how to cook meals for themselves, work on a team, solve problems, and thrive outdoors. They are rewarded for good behaviors. All the while, teenagers are exhilarated by activities like hiking, rock climbing, river rafting, and snowshoeing—actively engaging them in the treatment process. For teenagers who are often skeptical of treatment and hesitant to pursue a residential program, a wilderness treatment program can be a positive first step.

  1. Juvenile Boot Camps:

Juvenile or teen boot camps are another option that have emerged for troubled teens. These programs are designed to provide a rigorous structure and regime for teenagers, and therefore follow a military-type model. Youth in a boot camp program will be required to follow strict rules, schedules, and codes of conduct. In a military-like environment, physical exercise and activity is highly promoted.

Teen boot camps are less focused on treatment and mental health, and are more so designed to help those who will simply benefit from rules and structure. These programs are not recommended for teens who are struggling with a mental health disorder or substance abuse problem.

Is Your Teen Showing Signs of Troubled Behavior?

As discussed, there is a difference between normal teenage behavior and troubled teen behavior, and sometimes the line between the two can be blurry. If you’re unsure if your teen needs a troubled youth program, it is important to speak with a clinical professional about your concerns. You may contact your family doctor, a licensed counselor, or a teen rehab professional for guidance. You may also review the below signs of abnormal, troubled teen behaviors, to help decide on the next step for your teen:

  • Your teen is openly rebellious, refusing to abide by any rules or boundaries.
  • Your teen is showing signs of a mental health disorder, such as depression.
  • Your teen has suicidal ideations and exhibits self-harm.
  • Your teen displays severe mood swings, including excessive anger.
  • Your teen lacks empathy for others, and does not care about the consequences of their actions.
  • Your teen shows no regard for you or other family members.
  • Your teen mistreats other people and/or animals.
  • Your teen is violent.
  • Your teen binge drinks or engages in drug abuse.
  • Your teen has had multiple run-ins with the law.

Get Your Teen Help Today

There are a variety of treatment programs and facilities for troubled youth, each with their own pros and cons. As you consider your options, be sure to take into account your teen’s individual needs and wishes. In which type of environment will your teenager thrive? What type of struggles is your son or daughter coping with, and what level of help will bring your teen the most success? 

For teenagers struggling with mental health disorders and substance use disorders, a residential treatment program can provide the therapies, engagement, clinical support, community, and watchful care needed to reach a full recovery. You can learn more by contacting Turnbridge, a residential treatment program for adolescents and young adults struggling with mental health disorders, substance use disorders, eating disorders, and more. Call 877-581-1793 today for guidance and support.