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Comparing Therapy Versus Behavior Modification for Your Troubled Teen


If your teen is struggling with various problems and you aren’t sure what to do, you might consider therapy or behavior modification to help. But what’s the difference between the two and which one should you choose? The following information can help you understand the difference between these as you decide the best way to help your troubled teen.

An Overview of Therapy

If you are looking for therapy for a teen, you want a professional who understands the mental health needs of adolescents. A therapist will address the negative thoughts, feelings or behaviors of a young person and help him understand why he is experiencing on-going problems. Together, they will look for the root of the problem and figure out ways to seek healing and solutions. The therapist will help teens find solutions to problems but will not solve the problems for him.

Teens might need therapy for any of the following reasons:

  1. Medical problems

  2. The loss of a relationship through rejection, moving, divorce or death

  3. Stress and

  4. Family violence or violence from other sources

Types of Therapy for Teens

A teen might attend one of the following types of therapy or a combination of the following:

  1. Individual – The young person meets privately with the mental health professional in a confidential setting to discuss his problems.

  2. Group – The adolescent meets with a group of other teens, and all will share about what they are experiencing. Generally, the people in the group remain the same, and one or two leaders run the group.

  3. Family – The teen, his parents and possibly siblings attend therapy together where they address problems that impact them as a family.

An Overview of Behavior Modification

Behavior modification targets specific behaviors that need to change so that the adolescent can then correct maladaptive behaviors and begin to instill new habits. Since teens are still learning patterns of behavior, this tactic is usually effective for them. For the best results, parents should seek a behavior modification professional as soon as possible if their young person is struggling with a behavioral issue.

Some facilities use phases and levels through a behavior modification method that allows participants to earn increased privileges in the program. The adolescent learns that his behavior directly affects the privileges that he receives while at the same time boosting his self-esteem. As the teen demonstrates increasing responsibilities, he can integrate these behaviors into life back home.

Combining the Best Aspects of Therapy and Behavior Modification

A therapeutic boarding school combines the best aspects of both therapy and behavior modification when dealing with troubled teens. Individual, group and family therapy allows the teen to process through the events that have shaped his life thus far, making him what he is today. Behavior modification motivates him toward becoming a productive member of society by teaching responsibility in a safe environment and encouraging him to make good decisions.

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