Kristin E. Stattels' Troubled Teens Survivor Network
OVERVIEW OF THE INDUSTRYWhat happens when you need to get help for your at risk teenager? Most families rely on tough love and behavior modification facilities to “fix” their at risk teens. They turn to the “professionals” when they no longer know what to do. After all, we should be able to put confidence and trust into professionals to get our loved ones the help they need. Correct?

The answer to that question unfortunately is highly complex and frustrating, when it comes to the Troubled Teen Industry. This is so, because many programs offered to at risk teens, practice tough love, coercion, and scare tactics very similar to the scare tactics used in North Korea. The patients are stripped of their rights, their identities, and in some cases, their lives. It must be recognized, that this is a multi billion dollar industry, in which your troubled teen, is their source of marketing and profit. Their interest in your family is for their financial gain, and nothing more.  These programs will promise families anything and everything at their time of vulnerability and desperation. However, those promises are nothing more than a con. It is nearly every parent’s first priority to help and protect their loved ones. When their loved ones are slipping through the cracks of depression and other mental deficiencies, it is our main concern to save them. Programs have the repulsive skill of conning you into believing that without a doubt, no matter what your loved ones issues may be, that they can save the lives of those in crisis and also can prevent your child from any further trouble. They will go miles far with their words, but miles far from their words, when it comes to their actions. This industry has caused more catastrophes regarding patients and families, than it ever has as far as true therapy.

They offer parents a safe haven for their out of control adolescents. They believe that only harsh and in some cases cruel measures can turn the patients life around, because of their belief in the fact that it teens today have no morals or values. They need to be put into their place, and set straight. When inquiring about your interest in their program, they pressure parents to the extreme, urging them to act immediately in the process of enrolling their “out of control teen”. Many do not respect the parents, and surely do not in any means respect their patients. They will manipulate parents in every possible way in order to attempt to prevent themselves from losing a client, by convincing parents that their teens are going to lie to them about their treatment and their kids will try and manipulate the parents by reporting being abused at the facility. They do not encourage the parents to be involved with any level of treatment. Some may restrict, monitor, or prohibit your teen from having any outside contacts, including their parents.

Patients are treated in a heinous, harsh, and cruel manner that involves interventions such as seclusion, physical restraint, mechanical restraint, chemical restraint, punitive “behavior modification” tactics, humiliation, peer on peer discipline, forced labor, sedation, deprivation of basic human needs such as retention of bodily wastes, starvation, dehydration, medical attention deprivation.

They do not provide individualized treatment programs, every patient follows the same treatment plan, when in fact, most are having difficulties with different issues needing different interventions. Treatment of mental disorders is not a one size fits all intervention. Depending on different deficiencies and issues, different forms of therapy and interventions are needed, in which they do not provide. Every patient is conformed to the same treatment program.

Many claim to provide therapy and treatment for patients with specific psychiatric illnesses; however they do not have full time licensed mental health professionals on staff. They deliver group, individual, or family therapy run by staff that are not trained and licensed to do so.  In these therapies, they force the patients to disclose “the truth”, meaning taking responsibility for every problem in their lives (ex: patient’s sexual assault was her fault. She brought it on herself) they force patients to admit to all problems, even if the issues are not in fact present.

They may not even require a mental status or physical examination prior to admission. This is detrimental, because not knowing current mental or physical status could be harmful for a few different reasons. First and foremost is how they can ensure that their program will work for your child without any examination, again relaying back to the one size fits all therapy. Second is relating to physiological status, as many programs force extreme labor and other physiologically stressful tactics, which all patients must adhere to.

Not ensuring the clients that they have psychiatrists on staff who are regularly available to prescribe, monitor, and adjust medication regimens is another issue that is extremely dangerous. Speaking of medications, in some situations, medications are dispensed by staff that are not trained and qualified to do so. They sometimes over medicate teens, at intoxicating dosages, in order to sedate them for either their convenience or as a form of punishment. Some programs on the contrary, may have an anti-medication philosophy, no matter what the need for medication may be.

Copyright 2011. Kristin Stattel. All rights reserved.