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What kind of place is a ranch-camp?

Troubled teenagers living in the city or the suburbs may have very little contact with the wild outdoors or any animals apart from their own domestic pets. The appeal therefore, of a residential program in the country is obvious; it is a totally different environment for the teenager. The parents of a defiant and disturbed teenager, having arrived at the decision to look for a residential program, will find there is a lot of choice. The choice is made more difficult by the variety of terminology used to describe the places that accept troubled teens and offer some kind of solution to their problems.

The teenager's problems may be diverse, but the parents need to look at this decision as objectively as possible, considering, honestly, what the teenagers issues are and how serious the bad behavior has become. Certain camps will not accept certain conditions, and certain approaches will not suit the teenagers' personality; it is important to get the match right. An option for parents considering treatment for their troubled teen is the teen ranch camp.

The ranch camp approach utilizes working with animals as their therapeutic approach. Equine therapy, at a horse ranch, is based upon the teenager becoming involved in ranch chores, learning to take care of a horse, ultimately learning to ride that horse, but also undertaking counseling and therapy sessions. The concept is that teenagers can learn from one herd animal (the horse) a model of social behavior as they themselves are another herd animal (a human being) and relate to the lessons being taught about team work, and appropriate socialization.

The responsibility that teens on a ranch take on builds up over a period of time, and they are graded as having passed through certain levels of achievement, whereby they take on more and more responsibility. There is usually clinical, medical support for teens at a ranch camp and they work in very small groups, usually single sex. A ranch camp is hard work, both physical and psychological; the animals need to learn to trust the humans so the teen will have to work for their reward, which is the point of them being there!

Teen ranch camps offer summer and weekend programs, but the residential treatment therapy is not just for defiant teens. As the focus is on therapy, they will deal with drug addiction and alcohol therapy as too will some boot camps. Parents need to identify what their teens problems are, write a list of questions and then research, research research!

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