Therapy is important to the overall change process for parents and teens alike. However, most teens struggle with typical outpatient therapy; becoming fairly skilled at manipulating therapists in the standard “50-minute hour.” The customary, “sit on the couch and tell me how you feel” approach is very rarely the most effective way to work with troubled teens.
At Turn-About Ranch, our goal is to help teens recognize that therapists are not the enemy and the therapeutic process can be helpful in achieving positive lasting change. Our approach is to combine weekly private sessions taking place outdoors, on the basketball court, on a hike, or in the office as well as integrate therapy into everything we do. Teens participate in weekly individual and group counseling sessions as well as work with their therapist on ranch projects. We not only want to follow our therapeutic impressions in session, but also see how the teen is functioning with their peers, in school, equine therapy, and all aspects of their life here at the program. This helps staff and therapists alike to get a more accurate picture of your child’s overall improvement. Being able to talk about coping skills is not enough; teens need to be able to demonstrate their behavioral change through effectively managing themselves and their responsibilities. This minimizes the chance for manipulation or “faking it”. Many parents ask “how do I know this change is real?” The best answer is to observe behaviors; how teens act when they think no one is looking and how consistent they are from day to day. The daily activities on the ranch provide the perfect canvas for observing real, lasting change.
Group therapy is an opportunity for teens to learn from each other. It gives each teen a chance to openly talk about issues they struggle with, ask for feedback on progress, and learn from peers who are further along in the program. Adolescents also have opportunities to lead groups on topics they have mastered as they progress through the program. This helps lock in concepts and allows them to act as leaders and mentors for others. Teens also participate in daily goal-setting groups where they assess their progress through self-evaluation and set goals for improvement. Those more advanced participate in leadership groups as well. These co-ed groups provide an opportunity for students to improve leadership and communication skills, work together to find solutions to leadership obstacles, practice healthy non-sexual male/female interactions, give back by inspiring peers, and prepare for a successful transition home.