For many people a new school year means a fresh start. Children have the opportunity to press the reset button every August or September and approach each year as a new chapter. For struggling teens and their families, however, a new school year may cause anxiety, fear and frustration.
Returning to a traditional, familiar school setting may only be a reminder of the challenges a teen is facing. Many teens who struggle with depression, eating disorders or learning differences need to get away from what’s familiar and into a totally different environment. Finding a wilderness school for troubled teens may be the answer to all the anger and frustration you and your family have been facing and may give your teen the fresh start he or she needs.
What is Wilderness Therapy?
If you’re looking for an alternative to a traditional classroom for your teen, the most important thing to know is you’re not alone. Many families have dealt with exactly what you and your teen are facing, and they got through it by getting help. A wilderness school for troubled teens may be the help you and your family need. The first step is to learn about what wilderness therapy is (and is not).
Simply put, wilderness therapy is a type of outdoor behavioral therapy that uses nature to address mental health and behavioral issues. While wilderness therapy has been around in some form since the early 1900s, programs specifically geared toward using outdoor education as a means of self-discovery took off in the 1960s and 1970s with the founding of various programs.
At Pacific Quest, which is on the Big Island of Hawaii, the program incorporates a neurodevelopmental approach to treatment with horticultural therapy to help teens and young adults learn how to manage their struggles. At a wilderness school for troubled teens, the program may mimic some of the challenges a teen faces within their family or peer group to then teach teens how to productively deal with these challenges. Being away from their family, home and school can help teens break negative patterns of behavior to be able to learn positive ones.
Since the late 1990s, Pacific Quest has been working with teens and young adults to teach them how to build healthy relationships with themselves, their friends and families and the environment. Through horticulture therapy, which combines the art and science of growing flowers, trees, fruits and vegetables with current practices in human behavior, neuroscience and counseling psychology, students develop a sense of purpose and can see the tangible results of their efforts. The program at Pacific Quest also incorporates group and individual therapy. Each student has an individualized treatment plan as well as daily activities such as academic coursework, personal reflection, meal preparation, exercise and community service.
Pacific Quest distinguishes itself in many ways as a wilderness school for troubled teens. We’re the only outdoor therapy program with a full-time, awake night staff that’s on duty every day of the year, and the only program with a full-service hospital just 20 minutes away. Pacific Quest’s Medical Director, Clinical Director, Program Director and Admissions Director collaboratively review all potential candidates prior to admission. Finally, Pacific Quest is the only outdoor therapy program with two full-time naturopathic doctors, an on-staff psychiatrist and a consulting MD. We also have three medical coordinators and two wellness assistants to round out our team.
Signs of a Troubled Teen
Knowing the difference between a troubled teen and a typical teen can be difficult. Teens can be moody and withdrawn in one moment and attentive and kind in the next, and their friend group may change if their interests change. Still, there are many signs to look for to determine if your teen is troubled and if a wilderness school for troubled teens is the answer. Here are some of the signs:
- Changes in behavior and/or loss of interest in usual activities
- Changes in sleep patterns, including sleeping a lot more or less
- Changes in eating habits
- Changes in school performance, i.e. drop in grades
- Changes in friend group
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Increased anger or irritability
If your child is exhibiting these signs, consider the benefits of a wilderness school for troubled teens.
The Pacific Quest Approach
At Pacific Quest, we’re dedicated to helping teens and young adults learn new patterns of behavior to live their best lives. We offer support to their families, as well. One parent whose child attended Pacific Quest shared the following: “We just completed a two day visit and believe this one was the best program that we have ever attended.” Another parent reflected, “You all do a fantastic job with the kids and their parents. We were both impressed by and grateful for your skillful and caring approach to the wide range of problems you encounter with the kids and their families.” If your teen is troubled, you’re not alone. We’re here to help, so contact Pacific Quest today.