Month: September 2014

Going Outdoors: Wilderness Therapy as a Technology Addiction Treatment

Camps for Troubled Youth in Washington

Wilderness Therapy as a Technology Addiction Treatment

Many teens spend more time with their face buried in an electronic device than they do enjoying the outdoors. This addiction to technology is starting to have serious health consequences as teens are becoming less active in exercising their minds and bodies. Wilderness therapy can correct this reliance by introducing participants to a number of personal coping tools and management skills that can eliminate their constant need to turn to technology. It also introduces them to nature, which on its own has the power to transform a young person’s life.

Approximately half of all teenage boys and a quarter of teenage girls spend more than 40 hours a week in front of an electronic screen, such as a computer, mobile phone, or TV. A strong reliance on technology is generally accompanied with a withdrawal from social interactions and can be an indication of a more severe behavioral or mental problem.  Many components of wilderness therapy can assist with such an addition including technology addiction. As participants do not have the option in the wilderness of utilizing electronic devices, they are not able to connect.

Too much “screen time” is associated with:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol and substance use
  • Aggressive and violent behavior
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Poor academic performance
  • Poor social skills
  • Depression
  • Emotional disconnection

Teens who have an unhealthy reliance to their technological devices are not going to be easy to treat. Their habits are hard formed and their access to technology is difficult to restrict. They also like their electronic toys. It is challenging to help a teen overcome an addiction to electronics when they do not view their own behavior as destructive.

Separation is key when successfully conquering an unhealthy addiction to electronic devices.

Wilderness therapy addresses this particular issue in a way that no other treatment can. After all, there are no electronics in the wilderness. Participants simply do not have the option to connect with their electronic device; they no longer have the means to engage in destructive behavior.

Participants re-evaluate current values and goals without the crutch of technology to distract them and they are forced to address the issues that prompt them to turn to electronics. They reflect, write journals, and discuss the reasons for their behavior, and by doing so they develop new habits to take home.

The process facilitates independence and self-control, and upon returning home, participants are equipped with the tools to make better choices and manage their lives in a healthier way. They leave with an ability to balance their activities and behaviors appropriately and the desire to make good decisions when it comes to their technology use.

Being in nature can be transformative for a teen that is addicted to technology.

With nature as the background for treatment, wilderness therapy is particularly effective. Being outdoors is shown to increase physical and mental wellbeing. Nature can be very challenging, which helps to develop strength of will and determination. It is also peaceful and calming, and is the perfect setting for mediation and personal reflection.

The power of nature coupled with therapeutic treatment can help teens to overcome their reliance to technology by transforming the way that they view their place in the world. To learn more about wilderness therapy as a technology addiction treatment, contact Rites of Passage Wilderness today at (800)794-0980.

Negative Impact of Fad Dieting & How Weight Loss Programs for Teens is a Better Option

Obesity Health an Wellness Camp for Kids in North America

The Dangerous Impact Your Fad Dieting is Having on Your Teen

Fad diets, those that promise a quick fix and rapid weight loss, usually sound too good to be true—because they are. At best, fad diets are a temporary solution. They promise instant gratification without the ability to deliver long-term success. At their worst, fad diets contribute to serious emotional and physical health issues, especially in children and teens. Parents who are constant fad dieters need to be aware of the potentially dangerous effects that these practices are having on their children. When weight loss is involved, being safe and healthy should always be the primary consideration, and effective weight loss programs for teens may be a better option which can produce more long term results and lead to a healthier lifestyle.

What is a fad diet?

Fad diets are those diets that become quickly popular with the promise of speedy weight loss and require very little work. While a handful may provide short-term results, most fail to provide nutritional value and do not fulfill caloric intake needs. They may require or restrict particular foods, and they may involve taking additional pills or supplements. Most importantly, they are not sustainable and they do not deliver long-term success.

How to spot a fad diet.

Fad diets typically:

  • Label particular foods as “good” and “bad”
  • Make dramatic statements that are rejected by reputable scientific groups
  • Have endorsements that are based on a single study or testimony
  • Oversimplify complex research
  • Refer to studies that have not been reviewed by independent experts
  • Eliminate one or more food group
  • Try to sell a product

Fad dieting can have a dangerous impact on a child or teen’s emotional and physical wellbeing.

Fad dieting has the potential to impact the parent-child relationship and the family dynamic negatively, first, because the food choices that a parent makes for himself or herself usually are made for the child as well, and second, because children model the behavior of their parents.

Dieting in general teaches children and teens to feel shame about eating certain foods—leading to a poor self-image and unhealthy eating habits (such as binging), or an eating disorder (like bulimia or anorexia). Classifying certain foods as “good” or “bad” may help to endorse unhealthy thoughts such as, “this cupcake is bad, so I am bad if I eat it.” When a fad diet promises to deliver and then doesn’t work, the person can feel like a failure, further contributing to body image issues.

Switching to a healthy lifestyle has greater long-term physical and emotional benefits.

A meal plan that satisfies nutritional and caloric requirements is a better way to achieve long-term results. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests that a healthy approach to a well balanced diet should focus on moderation, portion size, and physical activity, and should be tailored to the family’s schedule and lifestyle. A small amount of energy spent planning meals and snacks for the week can eliminate the need to resort to fast, unhealthy choices.

Shedding pounds should not be the main focus. It is most important to concentrate on the overall pattern of the family diet and the foods that are eaten. Moderation and a choice of healthy options is key, especially for children and teens.

The focus should be on feeling good and maintaining overall good health, not about losing weight. A healthy lifestyle that incorporates a holistic diet will produce lasting physical results, as well as an improved emotional state.
For this reason, weight loss programs for teens, such as the many programs offered by Rites of Passage, should be considered prior to attempting any fad dieting. Call us today at (800)794-0980 to learn more.

School Avoidance and Anxiety Based Disorders: Anxiety Treatment for Teens

Wilderness Therapy For Substance Conduct Disorder Treatment in Washington

Being a teen is naturally stressful, and anxiety is a natural response to that stress. When this anxiety becomes persistent and overwhelming, however, it can impact a teen’s desire to attend school and his or her ability to perform academically. Anxiety Treatment for Teens including open communication, and wilderness therapy can be of assistance in alleviating stress and anxiousness.

Attending school and performing academically may be a major source of anxiety in your teen.

Anxiety is a normal part of teenage life, and it can be healthy—to a point. Feeling anxious in the right amount helps the body to perceive threats, avoid danger, and allows a person to navigate tense situations. When this anxiety develops into extreme feelings of worry and fear, however, it is cause for concern.

High anxiety manifests differently in individuals and depends on a combination of factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, environment, physical activity, diet, drug use and medical history. For teenagers who suffer from high anxiety, school can be the number one underlying source of it. Anxiety disorders can develop around times of transition, such as entering middle or high school, moving, or other life events that accompany adolescence. Moreover, the things that accompany school life are stressful: for example, taking tests, public speaking, meeting people, competing athletically, and dating.

Signs that your teen may have an anxiety disorder related to school:

  • Repeatedly asks to see the nurse
  • Avoids school or skips classes
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Continued nervousness and restlessness
  • Seems withdrawn or uneasy
  • Excessively wary and vigilant
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea, stomach aches, diarrhea
Tips for parents:

Communicate openly. Speaking with your teen about their worries and fears related to school will help to reduce them.

Emphasize the positive. While there may be something specific that is causing your teen to avoid school, speak with them about the advantages and positive aspects of attending school.

Support your teen. Support your teen in their academic achievements and in their failings. The anxiety that teens feel to achieve high grades is amplified when they feel like poor performances will not be accepted.

Set reasonable expectations. Pressuring teens to be perfect is not the way to get them to succeed. Build inner motivation, so that your child understands that doing something well is a reward in itself.

Speak with teachers and counselors. Work to build your child’s support system by reaching out to the professionals at school that can help your child to manage his or her anxiety.

Encourage hobbies and interests. Teens need time to unwind from the pressures of performing academically. Hobbies can help with relaxation and help build self-confidence.

Insist on attendance. Avoidance is habit-forming and reinforces anxiety issues.

Educate yourself. Learn about your teen’s anxiety disorder so that you can better help them to treat it.

As a parent, when you feel that you do not have the tools to help your teen cope with their anxiety issues, it is time to seek professional treatment.

Wilderness therapy teaches the coping mechanisms that teens need to manage their anxiety.

Wilderness therapy is a form of treatment that has been shown to be highly successful in treating anxiety disorders in teens and young adults.

Wilderness therapy employs the cognitive behavior therapy model to treat participants by helping them to identify the underlying factors that contribute to their particular issue, and teaches skills to self manage that issue. Relaxation techniques, coping skills, emotional awareness, and cognitive restructuring are all tools that wilderness therapy teaches.

Upon leaving a wilderness therapy program, teens have the ability to return to school life and control their stresses in a healthy and productive way. For this reason, wilderness therapy programs can be an extremely effective method of anxiety treatment for teens. Contact Rites of Passage today at (800)794-0980 to learn more.

Treatment for Behavioral and Social Problems: How Art Can Help Teens & Young Adults

The process of creating art is inherently therapeutic. As Picasso put it, “painting is just another way of keeping a diary.” For adolescents suffering from behavioral, emotional, or substance-abuse issues, art therapy has proven to be highly successful in its approach to treatment. When seeking treatment for behavioral and social problems in teens and young adults, art therapy can be a highly effective means of overall balance and well being.

What is Art Therapy?

Art therapy is founded on the belief that the creative process involved in artistic endeavors is transformative and healing. It is the therapeutic activity of creating art and reflecting on the products and processes in a way that is geared towards achieving personal growth and insight. Through drawing, painting, sculpting, and other art forms, individuals are encouraged to explore and express their inner feelings. This creative process is used as a tool for self-reflection, with the overall aim of improving a person’s sense of personal well being and restoring healthy social, mental and behavioral functionality.

Art therapy is primarily focused on expressing what is within oneself and on developing that inner image. The focus is not on the outside world, but rather on the inner experience—thoughts, feelings, emotions, perceptions and imaginations. The role of the art therapist is to facilitate personal exploration by guiding the participant through the creative process in a therapeutic way, and to discuss the meaning of the art to the person and the feelings and thoughts that it evokes. The goal is not to impose arbitrary meanings and interpretations from the therapist’s perspective, but to explore what that art means to the person that created it.

Art therapy is used to:

    • Express and identify feelings
    • Resolve emotional conflicts
    • Nurture self-awareness
    • Treat behavioral problems
    • Manage addictions
    • Lower anxiety
    • Improve self-esteem
How does art therapy succeed?

    Traditional forms of therapy can often fail to be effective for many teens and young adults suffering from behavioral, mental health or substance-abuse issues. At this age, many are ill equipped to handle the emotional and social difficulties they are experiencing. They are adverse to change, and resist those in roles of authority. They are also reluctant to talk, and often do not know how to express their inner emotions verbally. This can result in added feelings of frustration, anger, and an unwillingness to transform.

      By design, art therapy breaks down barriers between patient and therapist. By focusing on the art and the process of making art, individuals feel less like they are in treatment, and more like they are on a personal discovery. In interpreting the art with a therapist, teens and young adults are often able to verbalize for the first time the feelings that underlie their behavioral and mental issues. Art therapy allows individuals to express themselves in images, drawings and paintings when they do not have the words. It gives participants the tools for self-reflection and personal growth by offering a way for them to reveal their identity in a non-imposing and non-threatening way. The process of making art awakens emotional attitudes that would otherwise remain dormant in a traditional therapeutic setting.

        The act of making art and discussing and interpreting those works of art is seen as a process of emotional repair. Art offers a medium where individuals can both communicate about themselves and confront themselves. The practice of art therapy allows individuals to express themselves freely, to explore ideas and thoughts that are difficult to discuss, and to challenge their current ways living.

        For more information regarding treatment for behavioral and social problems in teens and young adults and additional effective methods, including art therapy, call Rites of Passage Wilderness at (800)794-0980.

          ADHD Treatment & Sleep: 5 Ways that Wilderness Therapy Can Help

          Camps for Troubled Young Adults in North America - USA

          The Relationship Between ADHD and Sleep: How Wilderness Therapy Can Help with Treatment

          Our minds do not turn off at bedtime, so it should be no surprise that many children suffering from ADHD also suffer from some form of sleep disorder. For those who are excessively hyperactive, impulsive, and restless, getting to sleep and staying asleep proves more difficult than it is for most. Wilderness therapy offers the opportunity to correct sleeping habits and eliminate sleep issues, and in doing so is an effective form of ADHD Treatment.

          Nearly half of all children and young adults suffering from ADHD report experiencing sleep difficulties of some kind. Many of the symptoms and behavioral issues that are associated with ADHD also overlap with a variety of sleep disorders, making diagnosis difficult. While more research needs to be conducted to determine the precise relationship between ADHD and sleep disorders, it has consistently been shown that there is a connection. Sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and night terrors, are more commonly present in children and teens with ADHD, and treating one may help to treat the other.

          Teens and young adults suffering from ADHD often have difficulty:

            • Going to bed
            • Falling asleep
            • Staying asleep
            • Waking up feeling refreshed

          Managing both ADHD and sleep disorders requires behavioral and lifestyle changes.

            Children with ADHD are more active during the night, and as a result have trouble performing regular daily tasks. Poor sleep can worsen the child’s daily behavior, and poor behavior can lead to trouble sleeping. Fortunately, there are many ways to manage the effects that a poor night’s rest may have on a person’s ADHD. Part of what is achieved in wilderness therapy is correcting sleep problems, which in turn helps to correct the negative behaviors that a tired teen exhibits.

              Wilderness therapy works to address sleep problems associated with ADHD by introducing new habits and lifestyle changes.

                Wilderness Therapy builds better sleep habits through such things as:

                    1. Physical Activity. Exercise is a treatment for both ADHD and sleep disorders, and wilderness therapy is tough work. Hiking, carrying equipment, and setting up camp is a physical challenge. This helps both getting to sleep and sleep quality, as well as getting rid of the built-up energy and hyperactivity that develops due to inactivity. It is important to note that physical exercise immediately before bedtime can actually promote alertness, so exercise is best done earlier in the day.
                    2. Holistic Diet. Diet directly influences the ability to sleep and plays an important role in managing ADHD symptoms. For instance, sugar and caffeine consumed before bed make sleeping difficult and only worsen feelings of hyperactivity and restlessness. Maintaining a healthy, holistic diet can be one of the simplest ways of managing ADHD and eliminating sleep problems.
                    3. Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Wilderness therapy employs the CBT model, which is founded on the notion that behaviors and interactions are influenced by the way we think: A positive change in our thoughts can positively impact our actions. In some cases, a person’s ADHD and difficulty sleeping stem from a mind that cannot turn off its thoughts of worry and fear. CBT teaches methods to help individuals transform their thought patterns and manage the feelings of anxiety that hinder their ability to fall sleep.
                    4. Natural light therapy. Behavioral problems associated with sleep disorders and ADHD can be the result of a biological clock that is out of time. Camping in the wilderness resets this clock by using the natural sleep-wake cycle to align the body’s circadian rhythms. This natural cycle revolves around the rising and setting of the sun, which works to regulate the body’s release of melatonin—the hormone responsible for regulating sleep.
                    5. Sleep Hygiene. This is the concept of having healthy bedtime routines and practices. Having good sleep hygiene means having a consistent routine free from sleep distractions—i.e. video games, televisions, computers. Wilderness therapy helps to develop healthy sleep and bedtime practices that participants can continue to practise when they return home.

                As research expands, the link between sleep disorders and ADHD is becoming better understood. What is known is that addressing sleep issues can drastically improve the symptoms associated with ADHD. Wilderness therapy works as a treatment for ADHD by tackling the underlying factors that contribute to it, which in many cases are issues related to difficulty sleeping. Better sleep makes for better behavior.

                To learn about wilderness therapy as an effective ADHD Treatment, contact Rites of Passage (800)794-0980.

                  Teen Substance Abuse Prevention: 7 Ways of Preventing Substance Abuse

                  Internationally Known Programs for Troubled Youth

                  Teens and young adults face more challenges and have more access to drugs and alcohol than ever before. Consequently, parents face more challenges in ensuring that their children grow into healthy, productive adults. Parenting is difficult; parenting well is even more difficult. Below are seven things a parent can do to ensure that their teen does not develop a substance abuse problem, and can assist as a teen substance abuse prevention.

                  Model good behavior. Perhaps the most important thing a parent can do for their teen is set a good example. Adolescents model their behavior on those who are important to them and those with whom they frequently interact. Parents have the opportunity to mitigate the risk factors that their teen faces by exhibiting the behaviors and attitudes that they want to see their teen develop. Take opportunities to exercise respectable characteristics. Handle adversity in a healthy and productive way, and not with negativity, stress and anxiety. Be the change you want to see in your teen.

                  Avoid risky behavior. Teens and young adults become particularly vulnerable when they witness parental drug or alcohol use. Using alcohol as a coping mechanism or engaging in casual drug use with prescription medication is extremely dangerous for a teen to witness. Regularly consuming alcohol to excess or smoking marijuana may have a stronger impact on a child than the parent realizes. Avoid engaging in the behavior that you do not want your teen to engage.

                  Develop a supportive relationship. Teens are more likely to hide substance use and information from their parents when they feel like they will be met with judgement, anger, or criticism. Foster a relationship that is built on trust and open communication. Be the adult that your teen feels like they can confide in, and offer supportive and positive advice and guidance.

                  Set clear boundaries. Parental permissiveness leads to substance abuse. An overly tolerant parent may think that there is nothing wrong with their teen “having a beer once in a while,” but this is a dangerous path. When a teen views his or her actions as even mildly permissible, they will challenge how far that permission extends.

                  Communicate expectations and consequences. Teens must clearly know what is expected of them and what the consequences will be if they break the rules. They will undoubtedly challenge the parent’s assertiveness and intent on following through, but sticking to the rules and enforcing punishments is fundamental to establishing a sense of responsibility.

                  Monitor and supervise. Parents should know where their child is, with whom they are spending time, and what they are doing. Knowing the crowd they keep and what activities in which they are engaged is essential.

                  Inform. Discuss drug and alcohol issues with your teen and inform them of the risks and consequences of substance abuse. Knowledge is power. The more your teen knows about the harmful effects, the less likely they are to abuse drugs or alcohol.

                  The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse reports that substance abuse is quickly becoming the most significant problem facing teens and young adults today. The risk factors that lead to substance abuse in teens and young adults are a combination of genetic and environmental influences. While the genetic factors are non-modifiable, the environmental factors can be controlled.

                  Ensuring that teens avoid this dangerous path requires strong parental role models committed to putting the protective factors in place that will prevent their teen from abusing drugs and alcohol. Communicate, supervise and guide, but more importantly, be the kind of person who you are asking your teen to be. All of these noted tips can aide in successful teen substance abuse prevention.

                  Rites of Passage Wilderness