Setting Troubled Teens Back on Track with Wilderness Therapy

Your troubled teen does not need another verbal thrashing or his privileges taken away for three weeks because of bad behavior. He needs the different approach to discipline that therapeutic wilderness programs provide.

Many parents are skeptical of boot camp for teenagers because they believe that such solution is too harsh. Therapeutic wilderness sessions, however, are not your ordinary boot camp.


Curative wilderness schools for troubled boys typically operate in three phases. There is first the cleansing phase that removes teens from all environments that have encouraged poor behavior in past times. It is usually during this period that participants began learning the importance of personal responsibility.

The second phase of the program is one where teenagers are challenged to develop the concept of accountability in their lives further. The idea of cause and effect is thoroughly explored, so students understand that every action brings a reaction of some sort. Of course, the goal is for teens to choose a positive route that keeps them out of trouble, but wilderness programs make sure to leave decisions in the students’ hands.

Independence is essential, says Wood creek Academy, since the third phase of wilderness care is transition and aftercare. It is during this stage of treatment that students learn how to apply the knowledge that they have acquired to everyday situations. Family training and education are often incorporated so that loved ones can become knowledgeable of what the teens have been doing.

While students put in all of the work during the first and second junctures of treatment, it is up to parents and other family members to actively participate during the third phase to make the overall program a success.