If your son is struggling with mental health problems beyond what you can handle on your own, it might be time to look for outside help. Plenty of teens struggle with unhealthy behavior patterns like substance abuse or depression, and parents are often ill-equipped to help them break those patterns. For those teens, a therapeutic boarding school like Sundance Canyon Academy could provide the help they need.
Trained therapists use techniques like Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) to help their clients identify negative behaviors and learn to change them. REBT is a specific style of therapy that helps people identify the root of their unhealthy behavior and address it directly. Rather than simply talking through the problems over and over again, therapists focus on the issues at hand and give direct advice on how to change negative behaviors to something more positive.
The goals of REBT
The overall goal of REBT is to help people address irrational beliefs about themself or about the world so that they can positively change their behavior. The way people feel about certain situations is based on how they think. If people can alter the way that they think about those situations, they can change the way they feel about them. Once their thoughts and feelings change, the behavior will follow.
Rather than focusing solely on the negative events that have happened in the past, REBT focuses on current thoughts and behaviors. Once the teens have identified and acknowledged the negative thought patterns, they can work to change them. As unhealthy beliefs change to healthy beliefs, they start engaging in more healthy, productive behaviors that lead to a healthier life.
The basis of REBT
Therapists using REBT will focus on three main areas while working with their clients:
- A: Activating Event
This is the original event that triggers negative feelings. This event in and of itself is not positive or negative; it’s just something that happens. However, it can lead to an irrational response for some people.
- B: Beliefs
These are the negative thoughts and beliefs that form after the activating event has happened. These irrational beliefs form the basis for negative behavior.
- C: Consequence
The consequences are the negative feelings and dysfunctional actions that happen because of irrational beliefs. The consequences can only be addressed if the beliefs are addressed first.
The beliefs are the stepping stones between the activating event and the negative consequences. If someone had positive or neutral beliefs about the activating event, the dysfunctional behavior probably wouldn’t happen. REBT seeks to address the beliefs because they are the crux of negative and dysfunctional behavior.
A teen boy wants to make the varsity baseball team. He tries out for the team, but he doesn’t make the cut. This is the activating event.
The boy believes that he’s a complete failure for not making the team and that he is utterly worthless. This is an irrational belief. Rationally, he might be sad or disappointed in not making the team, but his self-worth wouldn’t depend on it.
The boy becomes depressed and stops doing the fun, productive things that help him succeed in life. This is the consequence of the irrational, negative belief.
What to expect from REBT
At Sundance Canyon Academy, therapists use REBT to help their students reframe irrational beliefs and see situations for what they really are. Irrational beliefs tend to stem from rigid thinking. As that rigid thinking changes to be more flexible, the boys are able to change their beliefs and ultimately change their behavior.
For the students, it’s tough to change a belief that they think is true. Even when they agree that the belief is unhealthy, it’s still hard for them to change the thought patterns that they’ve established over time. The therapists are trained to use numerous strategies to guide the boys through refocusing activities that help change their thinking.
If your teenage son is struggling with negative thought patterns and showing signs of unhealthy behaviors, you might need extra help. Consider sending him to a school that specializes in working with troubled boys and focuses on therapeutic interventions.