New member - need help with 16yr old daughter


New Member
I have a 16 yr old daughter. She has been under the care of a psychiatrist since 5. Mood disorder, ADHD, executive functioning problems, auditory processing.
So some learning issues, mood issues, behavior issues as a result. We have had a difficult time raising her. Have a wonderful individualized school plan for her but she is still struggling to maintain emotional regulation and stay on top of tasks. It's very difficult at home, has been for years. We are all exhausted. We also have a 12yo D who has seen her share of trauma because of her big sisters behavior.
We deal with some promiscuity, lying, internet addiction. She has a great heart, wants to do well but her impulses take over. She gets very verbally abusive.
Lots of different therapies, medications, interventions. We are starting to look at TBS after hearing from therapist that it might be a good idea. We are running out of time to help her (before she turns 18).
She is a good kid with mental health issues that get in the way of good decision making. Low self esteem,anxiety, depression don't help.We are nervous to put her in an environment that seems punitive. She doesn't want to be this way, she says that. It's kind of heartbreaking.
Looking for TBS, wilderness program thoughts, recommendations.


New Member
Hi! I am chiming in because my husband and I sent our then-13-year-old son to therapeutic wilderness last summer followed by a TBS in the fall.

I will tell you that wilderness is not intended to be punitive. Rather it takes away all distractions so teens must learn to process their feelings.

These therapeutic programs are very expensive, but if you can afford it, I would highly recommend that you find an educational consultant near you. The ed consultant will help you pick out the right therapeutic environment for your daughter.

You said your daughter has been seeing a psychiatrist, and I assume she has had a neuropsychologist evaluation as you have diagnoses for her. Have you tried Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)? It is a game changer for kids with strong emotions. My 17-year-old daughter is in a DBT skills group and I think it is very helpful for her.

Is your school district providing any services for your daughter? If you can prove the need, you might be able to get them to pay for a TBS or additional services. For that I recommend a Special Education attorney.

My son is doing very well. Feel free to PM me with any questions.


Active Member
Julie65, I would have described my son at 15 very much like you describe your daughter. Because of his inability to control his temper and moods, we lived in chaos. However, he managed in regular classes, excelling in sports, having friends all the while acting calm and normal. Yet at home, he was a completely different person. It was as if he let it all out at home, all the pent up anxiety and frustration. Once he hit 15, things got very bad. I think he found weed around this time to self medicate. His risk taking behavior and unwillingness to attend in school or even attend school was the breaking point for us.

We met with an educational consultant who lead us to wilderness therapy. It was very expensive ( I want to estimate around $400 a day) and insurance did not cover it. He was there for 3 months. He was able to disconnect from all the things that were causing him so much stress and our family was able to get a break from the chaos. It was not punitive at all. The entire mood there was one of support and encouragement all while working very very hard on yourself in tough conditions. Tough as in getting up with the sun, quick showers(if at all), sleeping in tents, sitting by the campfire sharing , cooking your own food, hiking and hiking and hiking. He did school while he was there and without a doubt was instrumental in him being able to graduate from hs 2 1/2 years later. He actually talks fondly of his time there. He made friends (although they were instructed not to keep in touch) and worked very hard on himself. His now therapist told me if may have saved his life. Many if not most of the kids are recommended that they go to therapeutic boarding school once they complete wilderness therapy. We did not do that and perhaps we should have.

I do not think it was the magic answer because he continued to struggle when he came home. I look at it as a piece of the whole big journey that we continue on with our son. We all learned a lot about how to cope and it began a healing process for all of us. My son is now almost 20 and is doing very well.

A book I recommend that gives a really good glimpse into what wilderness therapy is like is Shouting at the Sky: Troubled Teens and the Promise of the Wild by Gary Ferguson.

If you decide to go that route, do your research on finding a place that you trust. There are some really good places and some that I would steer clear of. An educational consultant is a good place to start. Good luck to you and your family. I know how hard and lonely it is going through this.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
There are some similarities to our situation.
Our daughter was diagnosis’d Bipolar. I sometimes suspect some brain damage (long story). We found medications and therapy helpful.
Help your other child as much as possible. Kind friends and relatives will be very valuable. Also, nurutire your spousal relationship.
A Tbs might be a good idea.
Hard to say. Is she compliant with medication and therapy?
If you go with a Tbs, do your research. Make sure you can write regularly. You might want to be able to communicate regularly and help with her low self esteem issues as appropriate. Help her to feel loved. At the same time...setting boundaries and never allowing yourself to be “played.”
It’s a tough call.


Roll With It
For some kids a wilderness program can be helpful, but not for all of them. Same with TBS. If you do choose a program, be sure of what you are choosing. Check into it thoroughly. Educational consultants can be expensive but very worth it. Don't mistake a program being close to home for the best one. Sometimes a school that is the right fit is not close to home. Wherever your child goes, be sure you can regularly contact them to make sure they are relatively okay. Check the level of staff training and get as much in writing as you can. It is a WILDLY unregulated industry, so due diligence is needed when choosing a program.

There is a tool here on the site that can be amazingly helpful and powerful. It is called a Parent Report. It allows you to keep ALL of the info on your child in one document/place. You can find this Parent Report at the top of the posts on the General forum. This lets you give professionals you are working with an overview on the good and challenging parts of your child. It also helps you keep track of medications, side effects, problems, etc... This might help you and your child both work with the professionals better, as you have info organized and at your fingertips.

I hope this helps.