Teen Behavior Modification

Teen behavior modification, behavior therapy, is useful in the treatment of teen behavior problems. Learn about the five main categories of psychotherapy used to assist in teen behavior modification for troubled teens.

Behavior Therapy

Behavior therapy, a group of therapies that focus on the role of learning in behavior, as practiced now has several foundational aspects. One is the work of Ivan Pavlov in classical conditioning, also called associative learning. Another foundation to at least some types of behavior therapy is stoicism. Rooted in the Stoic philosophers Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, and Seneca, the idea of acknowledging a separation between one’s feelings - which are within one’s control - and other matters that are external and therefore outside of control (or complete control). E. L. Thorndike’s work on operant conditioning, explaining the role or rewards and punishments in shaping behavior, is another important element. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, which focuses on thoughts as well as behaviors, is one type of behavior therapy that is widely used for teen behavior modification.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy, abbreviated CBT, has been used in treatment of a wide array of conditions. These include substance abuse, eating disorders, insomnia, academic issues, mood disorders such as major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder, depression combined with other disorders, anxiety, conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, reactive attachment disorder, low self-esteem, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). It is sometimes combined with medication. Behavior modification has been found to be particularly effective in treating teens, and cognitive behavioral therapy is often employed.

Examples of Teen Behavior Modification Programs

In additional to individual therapy opportunities, a number of different treatment centers that are members of the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP) use behavior modification to work with their teen clients. Here are examples of three different NATSAP member programs that do:

Alpine Academy

Alpine Academy is a residential treatment center in Erda, Utah with an enrollment limit of 50. Founded in 2001, it serves girls only in two age groups: 12 to 17 and 18 to 22. The program is designed for girls with a wide variety of emotional and behavioral issues, but does not treat girls who are violent, whose primary issue is substance abuse, who are at great risk for running away, or whose full-scale IQ is less than 80. Alpine Academy is accredited by the Northwest Association of Accredited Schools (NAAS) and certified by the state of California as a non-public school. It uses a cognitive behavioral approach in individual, group, and family therapy sessions, as well as experiential therapy, notably equine-assisted psychotherapy for teen behavior modification.

Passages to Recovery

Passages to Recovery is a wilderness program in Loa, Utah. Founded in 2000, it serves boys aged 18 and up only, in small groups of no more than six boys per group. The program is designed for young men dealing with addiction and mental health disorders that co-occur. Treatment combines a 12-Step program approach with cognitive behavioral therapy, wilderness therapy, and motivational interviewing.

Wellspring Academy

Wellspring Academy is a specialized boarding school in Reedley, California with an enrollment limit of 70. Founded in 2004, it serves boys and girls aged 13 to 18 and/or in grades 8 to 12. Wellspring Academy is focused solely on overweight teens who are struggling to lose weight. It includes an academic program, allowing a choice other than summer camp for dealing with weight-loss issues. The program combines cognitive-behavioral therapy with individualized education and diet and activity management. It is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).



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