Maybe you have reached a point where you feel powerless to change their teenager’s troubling behavior.  That’s why you are looking for a good behavior modification program. We can provide you with information about the best behavioral modification programs and schools which serve troubled teens and their families. Our admissions counselors are here to coach, guide, and support you in finding the perfect behavior modification program for your troubled child.

What Is A Behavior Modification Program?

The term “behavioral modification” conjures up many different notions, such as “reform school,” boot camp, or even a jail for juvenile delinquents. These are types of behavior modification programs of the past because they did not have a great track record of success. These type of programs were highly dependent on physical exertion, isolation, and punishments to modify the behavior of troubled teens. In fact, many of these older behavior modification programs have been outlawed in most states due to the harsh methods employed.

Alternately, therapeutic programs and residential clinical therapeutic schools are now available for troubled teens. These therapeutic schools incorporate behavioral modification and intense therapy into the live-in program that deals with their thinking, academics and the spiritual side, while separating the child from negative influences.

Therapeutic – When it comes to troubled teens, it is nearly impossible to help them change their behaviors without therapeutic intervention. Several types of therapy such as group, family, and individual as well as different therapeutic modalities are needed throughout each week. By working from several angles, therapists can help them reshape their behaviors by helping them understand why they are having difficulty dealing with their life and relationships.
Academic – Poor academics can have a far-reaching effect on a teenager’s future. Earning bad grades are also one of the first signs that your son has a problem. Because of this, many troubled boys have fallen behind their peers academically, which can cause them to act out even more. Most therapeutic boarding schools understand that academic improvement can help these troubled teens gain a more positive outlook on their future, so they employ teachers and tutors. They will help the students recover credit in classes they previously had bad grades in and help them catch up and receive a high school diploma.
Spiritual – Teenagers have high energy reserves and need opportunities to expend their energy in appropriate ways. So, instead of using exercise to force change, these programs approach exercise more mindfully and spiritually, understanding that there is a healthy balance to be struck between body, mind, and spirit.
Separation from Negative Influences – Teenagers are given greater opportunity for behavioral modification while attending a therapeutic boarding school program. Many parents have seen that it can be nearly impossible for their struggling teens to effect permanent behavior changes while still in the environment which lead to the poor behavior. With your teen is in the program, they can begin to change in a safe place where their growth will be encouraged and supported by all of the therapeutic staff.

With therapy and academics helping the troubled teens minds and exercise to help balance their bodies, many programs also focus on the spiritual aspect, encouraging spiritual insight.

Types of Behavioral Modification Programs For Troubled Teens

There are many behavioral modification programs, from therapeutic boarding schools, to mental health residential treatment centers, to wilderness programs. Some of the behavioral modification programs like boot camps have aspects of the older methods and lack a strong therapeutic program element, so you will want to research them carefully before selecting a program for your troubled teen.

  • Residential treatment centers (RTC’s) – For the best intensive therapeutic treatment for troubled teens, you should look into residential treatment centers, sometimes referred to also as RTS’s or even as therapeutic boarding schools. They usually have licensed therapists on staff who work to solve each teenager’s issues and are many months in length.
  • Therapeutic boarding schools and programs – There are a number of types of therapeutic programs, both inpatient and outpatient.  These programs can vary widely in quality and length of stay. Be sure to perform extensive research before enrolling your child in one of these programs to make sure they can address the behavior modification you want for your teen.  Therapeutic boarding schools tend to deal with a broader range of issues over a longer period of time, which means the child also needs to continue their education while in the program.
  • Drug and alcohol rehabs – Rehabs are not meant for behavior modification, but to address addiction and the underlying reasons for it. However, once your troubled child has cycled through the rehab program and been declared clean, they may also need therapeutic treatment to remain clean.
  • Wilderness programs – Also referred to “experiential therapy,” wilderness programs take troubled teens out into the wilderness so they and their therapists can work on life basics with them. Wilderness programs are limited in scope as they do not include a long-term therapeutic element. Also, if your child has any physical limitations, it can be difficult for these kinds of behavioral modification programs to accommodate your son’s needs.
  • Military schools – Contrary to what you may have heard, military schools are not a place for a troubled teenager. In fact, very few accept troubled teens anymore, as they are looking for young men who want future military careers. Most do not accept troubled teens since they are disruptive to the rest of their students.
  • Boot campsJuvenile boot camps were part of the old school way of behavioral modification. Boot camps generally have no therapeutic element aside from experiential therapy. The lack of therapy to help a troubled teen means it is unlikely that any behavioral modification will take place long-term in a boot camp.

Some programs do not accept a student who is unwilling to enter a program under their own power, or who may need restraint for anger or aggression toward himself or others, or who present a high risk for running away. Once a plan is in place to enroll your child in a therapeutic boarding school or residential treatment program, will they attend willingly? How resistant to attempts for treatment will he or she be, once enrolled? Is he or she currently a runaway risk? If so, how do you plan to get them to a program?

Some programs are more equipped with staffing and services and able to accept those who are unwilling, or who come by transport services, or against their will. A teen does not necessarily need to be willing in order to enter some programs, so make sure the program you choose is staffed for what your child needs, and understands his level of resistance to being placed.

Be Sure to Ask if the Therapeutic Program Handles Academic Progress for Your Student. Also, is the School Accredited?

Are academics a high priority for you? Be careful about letting your fears regarding your child’s academic progress get in the way of seeing his or her immediate needs clearly. You will need to keep at the forefront the more pressing problem of your child’s current emotional and behavioral health, at least for the short-term. Many parents are concerned about their child’s academic progress, but fail to recognize that their child’s current inability to manage their emotional stress will most likely prevent them from succeeding in any academic progress at all until it is properly addressed. Therapy gives teenagers the tools they need to manage their emotional stress and think more clearly, after which they will most likely see academics in a more positive light.

Many programs do offer excellent academic programs that will allow your teenager to succeed once they are in a better state of mind. In general, a therapeutic boarding school approaches academics by offering a flexible style of coursework that allows a student to recover credits if they are behind, or work ahead if a student is academically gifted.

Schools often use a combination of curriculum options –including online coursework supplemented by teacher assistance and tutoring, a self-paced workbook format, traditional classroom instruction in an on-campus school, grade forgiveness for subjects already studied, experiential learning credits, or graduation by success with the GED. Most therapeutic boarding schools offer open or semi-open enrollment periods – which allows for more flexibility in placing a student in a program.

Be sure the program you choose can offer accredited academics, and that the coursework will be accepted in the high school from which your student will graduate, if not completing high school while in a program.

Does the Program Offer Experiential Therapy or Outdoor Activities?

Many programs provide extra experiential therapies as part of their offerings. Hiking, kayaking, climbing, camping, horseback-riding, and other outdoor activities may play a central role in the therapy your child may receive. If you think your child will do better in an outdoor experiential program, then you’ll want to look for programs that incorporate therapy into their daily outdoor activities. Ask what your child will do outside of schoolwork and daily chores, you may be pleasantly surprised!

Since treatment is more the focus than anything else, many therapeutic schools do not provide organized sports as part of their program, but some do allow your student to participate in organized sports. More often, students participate in an intramural-style program, using sports and activity as a focus for physical and mental fitness, for learning teamwork, and building character.

We understand that many parents need to make a decision and place their child in a behavior modification program now, so we have connections to many different schools and therapeutic programs located all over the United States. We can help you find a placement that is the right fit for you. Call our admissions counselors at and let us help you and your troubled teen.