Varieties of Teen Therapy

If your son or daughter has found themselves backed into a corner by life, struggling to cope with the pressures of the teenage years, therapy can be a life-saving tool. When therapy is employed within the structure of a therapeutic program, your son or daughter can build self-esteem, develop confidence, and discover a way out from the burdens they’re carrying.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular forms of therapy used in therapeutic boarding schools today. The more you understand the therapeutic process, the better you can support your teenager at home after they complete such a program.


Psychotherapy is a broad term for basically any method of treatment which addresses behaviors and attitudes within a psychological approach rather than medical. In layman’s terms, this kind of treatment is often called “talk” therapy or simply “therapy”. This approach is by far the most common, and it offers many benefits to struggling teenagers.

Psychotherapy can take place in either group or individual settings, with most therapeutic programs offering both. Teenagers are encouraged to open up about their struggles and issues so that a professional therapist can help them see their underlying motives and understand their troubling behavior. Once a teenager is better able to understand themselves, they are encouraged to change the way they react to the world.

Of course, the key to any successful psychotherapy session is the teen’s willingness and honesty. If you’ve seen your teenager clam up and refuse to accept help, you might wonder how therapeutic programs will fare any better than regular therapists. Fortunately, with the proper support system in place, therapeutic programs are often able to get results where outpatient therapy previously failed.

Equine Therapy

Equine therapy is a form of experiential therapy built around teenagers interacting with horses. Also known as horse therapy or equine-assisted therapy, this approach gives teenagers the opportunity to groom, feed, halter, and lead horses under the supervision of a professional therapist. For safety reasons, there are usually horse trainers on hand as well.

You might wonder how this can help your troubled teenager, but equine therapy has been clinically proven to be highly effective with troubled teens. As your son or daughter interacts with the horse, the therapist will observe their behavior, emotions, and patterns. During and after the horse interaction, the therapist will help your teenager process the experience they had, which can yield positive results.

The primary goal with equine therapy is to build life skills, such as responsibility, confidence, discipline, and critical thinking. Because this setting is so unique for most teenagers, it places them outside their comfort zone and outside the run of their daily life, which can lead to valuable psychological breakthroughs.

Addiction Counseling

For teenagers suffering from addiction or alcoholism, there is a specialized branch of therapy which addresses their particular experiences. These therapeutic practices often work hand-in-hand with spiritual solutions like faith-based programs or 12-step programs, providing a comprehensive approach to treating the disease of addiction.

Addiction counseling focuses primarily on relapse prevention and focused psychotherapy. Relapse prevention is a therapy dedicated to providing a recovering addict with new skills and tools to prevent them from returning to addiction. Anger management can be a big part of this, along with general coping strategies. Addicts in early recovery tend to struggle with their emotions and many of them need to learn how to handle stress, anger, and depression in healthy ways. Teaching an addict how to cope with their own emotions is a vital part of long-term sobriety.

The psychotherapy in addiction counseling is specifically directed at reaching the causes and conditions of addictive behavior. Whether an addict has suffered trauma, intense isolation, depression, or bullying, these issues need to be addressed before they can fully recover. All too often, a recovering addict finds themselves in a relapse because something triggered old trauma or repressed emotions. With proper treatment, these underlying issues can be taken care of before they cause a life-threatening relapse.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Although CBT is a form of psychotherapy, it differs in that its goal is not to reach back into the roots of issues, but rather to address unhealthy thinking patterns and challenge destructive behaviors. For teenagers suffering from anxiety or depression, CBT is often the go-to treatment protocol.

Every person has beliefs, conceptions, and attitudes which are fundamental to their identity as a human being. In certain people, however, these “cognitive processes” can become harmful. That’s where CBT comes in. CBT sessions are much more goal-oriented than traditional therapy, and teenagers are often able to overcome issues within a year of consistent therapy. By working with a therapist on changing negative thoughts and replacing them with positive ones, a person’s behavior can change significantly in only a short time.

Finding the Right Program

All therapeutic programs offer therapy, but their area of specialty can differ significantly. For instance, some programs offer extensive substance abuse treatment, while others focus more heavily on traditional psychotherapy. Be sure to ask questions about different programs’ therapeutic approach so you can find the one which works best for your teen.