On Parent Choices for Struggling Teens today, our guest Stuart (Stu) Squires, joined hosts Lon Woodbury and Elizabeth McGhee to explain how adventure programing can help families with problems heal. To carry out his ideas, Stuart developed a program he calls The Family Solution, that works to create life changing bonds within the family by using adventure therapy with the whole family.
To really heal a family system with problems, an adventure/experiential therapy program has to be geared toward the whole family, and tailor made and individualized based on a thorough assessment at time of arrival to the program. Strengths and weaknesses need to be identified right at the beginning.. By taking the family out of their comfort zone, a wilderness trip need to be designed to create an emotional connection together while family members are involved in some high-risk (not dangerous) activities…such as rappelling. These adventures create physical, emotional and social experiences that the parents are doing side by side with their child (children). "Parents must be involved in working alongside the teen, learn to listen and ask their child what they are learning, and work together. In doing so, they create a bond that will last the rest of their lives. The result can be closeness through shared emotions and activities.
The difference with this approach is the way in which the teen arrives at treatment - together as a family. Stuart explained that his approach to doing this for families is to have one week of working with the families of adventure therapy, with 2-3 months of follow up. This aftercare needs to be specifically aimed at what the family needs to work on, as assessed from the results of the adventures.. And lastly, he reported that the cost of this treatment is significantly less than most models. He had in mind those families who struggling to afford this kind of help.
Family involvement is the focus of this treatment and they can take what they learn from the adventure therapy and go home and use it. What he has found is this week is quite intensive, fun, exciting, impactful and they leave the program with goals that are both individual and as a family.
Lon Woodbury is the owner/founder of Woodbury Reports, Inc. and www.strugglingteens.com. He has worked with families and struggling teens since 1984 and is the host of Parent Choices for Struggling Teens and The Woodbury Reports.
Elizabeth McGhee is the Director of Admissions and Referral Relations at Sandhill Child Development Center and has over 19 years' of clinical, consulting and referral relations experience to her position and is the co-host.
Stuart Squires is the founder and owner of The Family Solution, a family adventure treatment program located in St. George, UT. Stu is a licensed Clinical Social Worker and has spent over a decade working with struggling families and with residential treatment centers.