Turning to a Program Outside the Home


It can happen that to get your child back, you may have to send her away first, said Maxym. When kids are so completely given over to defiance, out-of-control behavior and self-destruction, she advises parents on which programs to consider when staying home is no longer the best option.

Therapeutic schools, emotional growth programs and wilderness programs are considered by some to be among the 10 fastest-growing industries in the country, Maxym said. The National Organization Of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP, 800-687-5825) maintains information on many of them. Depending on the type you choose, your child may learn survival techniques in the woods, or study in a building that looks like a traditional boarding school.

Why do it? Kids need distance between themselves and companions who have been sharing their drugs and other self-destructive activities. Programs, which range in duration from a few weeks to a few months or longer, provide the teen with someone who is going to stand up to her and say, “No — those standards don’t work,” and who will then help her with techniques to replace experiences of failure with those of success.

This step can be a very difficult choice for parents, and a challenging one logistically. You need to find the specific program that is right for your teen’s individual needs.

Check programs out carefully, because accreditation, especially for the wilderness program, is in its infancy. Ask to speak to other parents whose children have been through the program, as well as to the children themselves.

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