Programs for Troubled Teens

Programs for Troubled Teens Defined

Programs for struggling teens are residential facilities that vary in their focus, gender, and treatment techniques. They can be anything from wilderness therapy to intensive inpatient treatment to therapeutic boarding schools. Depending on whether a therapeutic aspect is incorporated, generally programs for struggling teens work to help teens manage their issues and learn coping strategies. The type of therapy included may vary depending on the age, gender, or diagnoses focus of the program for struggling teens.programs for struggling teens

Many programs for struggling teens provide help for struggling youth by assisting them in the development of useful life skills like team-work, respect, self-awareness, accountability, and much more. The reason they focus on these types of skills is because they can transition with the teen back home and onward. When teens graduate programs for struggling teens, it doesn’t mean they’re suddenly “fixed,” it means they’ve learned all they can and now they need to go apply it in the real world. After these programs for struggling teens, usually teens continue to attend regular therapeutic sessions to continue a less intensive treatment.

An RTC program is a form of programs for struggling teens that provides inpatient therapeutic care to teens and adolescents who struggle with issues such as depression, anxiety, and trauma.

Who goes to programs for struggling teens?

Programs for struggling teens tend to focus on mental health and behavioral issues. The age a program accepts can vary from young middle school age to young adult. Some programs tend to focus on teens that are grappling with less severe, more common diagnoses; while others accept more severe ones. One struggling youth program may be extremely specific in what diagnoses they treat, while another may treat a much wider range.

Some issues a teen that attends a program for struggling teens are:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Adoption issues
  • Oppositional defiant disorder
  • Defiant behavior
  • Learning disorders (ADHD, dyslexia, nonverbal learning disorder)
  • Anger management issues
  • Self-harm
  • School refusal
  • OCD
  • Trauma/PTSD

Why send your teen to a program for struggling teens?

If you’re in the process of finding help for struggling teens and your teen is struggling on a daily basis, you’ve probably tried everything available in traditional therapy. Troubled youth programs are a step further than traditional therapy. They combine traditional with nontraditional to form a more intensive, elaborate, and specialized intervention for your child. Some beneficial aspects of a superior struggling teen program include:

  1. Carefully Designed Programming: Programs often don’t accept a wide age range (like 7 to 18) because each age group requires a different set of therapeutic techniques. Something that works on a 7 year old most likely won’t work on a 17 year old. Programs carefully pick out what therapies they’re going to include in the curriculum along with what environment would be the most beneficial.
  2. Trained Staff: As a parent, you can only do so much. In programs for struggling teens, the staff to student ratio is low in order to create a safe, supervised environment for your child. Staff usually go through a vigorous training process that teaches them conflict and situation management.
  3. Family Involvement: Some parents are hesitant to send their children to a program for struggling teens because they won’t be interacting with them. This is often not true. Many programs strive to incorporate the family into the healing process. This could be anything from a 90-minute call a week with your child and their therapist to in-person visits. Family is an important component in your child’s support system, making it almost impossible to not include.
  4. Therapeutically Advanced: Because traditional therapy isn’t always enough, programs for struggling teens often use many different types to create a comprehensive therapeutic model. These types of therapy can include equine, family, individual, group, cognitive behavioral, and many more.
  5. Transferrable Skills: Programs for struggling teens want to provide a full therapeutic experience that can be transferred outside of the program and back home. Because of this, they work on teaching teens coping skills they can apply in daily life, whether they’re in a program or not.

Elevations RTC is a leading program for struggling teens

Elevations RTC is a program for struggling teens, ages 13 to 17, that struggle with behavioral, emotional, and academic issues like depression, anxiety, trauma, learning disorders, and others. Through the use of many different types of therapy, Elevations strives to give each individual student the best care available. Some aspects that set Elevations apart from other programs include:text-books-elevations

A Traditional School Environment Mixed with Residential Treatment. Unlike many programs for struggling teens, Elevations RTC provides a traditional school environment within residential treatment. This allows for a smoother transition back home into normal life. With licensed teachers, a separate school building, and all gender classes, Elevations offers each student an academic setting inside a residential treatment center.

Peer-Culture Approach. Elevations emphasizes peer feedback and interaction. In the real world, you child isn’t going to be completely separate from the opposite gender in daily life. Our all gender, supervised setting allows students to be comfortable in normal, real-life environments. A student’s interactions with his or her peers is much different than one with his or her therapist, parent, or other adults. Elevation’s peer-culture model gives students this much needed interaction between peers that isn’t always offered in programs for struggling teens.

Exciting and Fun Opportunities. As a program for struggling teens, Elevations offers many off-campus, adventurous opportunities that focus on experiential learning. These adventure therapy outings could be anything from camping and rock-climbing to rafting and snowboarding. This allows students to get outside of their comfort zone and accomplish something physical, which builds self-esteem.

Contemporary articles

A few years ago, Demi Lovato, a beloved then Disney star and now well-known pop singer, entered a program for struggling teens because of struggles with an eating disorder, depression, and self-harm. She had reached a critical point and her parents and her agreed that she needed further help than she currently had. Inside the program, she found out that she actually had bipolar disorder. Though she still struggles at times, she now has the correct medication and support to help her cope.

A recent article evaluates the recent spike in demand over the past 5 years for adolescent mental health treatment. In the article, it says demand has risen by 30 percent in just 5 years. This could be because of the changing attitude towards mental illness and its rising acceptance by the public.


In a study of whether cognitive behavioral therapy was effective in a group of struggling teens, it was found that it has the ability to greatly benefit these teens. Researchers found that teens improved in areas of attention span, impulse control, learning ability, and motivation.

In another study, it was found that childhood trauma could be linked to later poor impulse control in adulthood. This points to the importance of getting treatment as early as possible because a child cannot simply “outgrow” their issues. Programs for struggling teens can provide the type of care and treatment that can benefit those with childhood trauma.

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The Elevations Team