In a journal article recently published in The Michigan Child Welfare Journal, Professor Daniel Pollack and his colleagues explore the sinister side of various programs that are for so-called "troubled teens." Often costing $10,000/month or more, these programs offered stressed out parents a proffered "residential school" or "wilderness camp" environment in which their children are theoretically to receive therapy. I remember having read articles about children who never returned from such programs. Pollack describes what can go wrong in these largely unregulated programs.
I Googled << wilderness camp teen >> for images. The happy campers in the photos that popped up on my screen look nothing like what is described as the typical therapeutic wilderness camp experience despite the fact that some of them appear to be images from websites advertising such programs. Now that is scary! [Note to self: Skip the image]
This journal article cites, among others, a Los Angeles Times newspaper article about one such program. Anyone thinking about sending a teenager away--entrusting the care of a child to strangers--would do well to read this. Netburn, Deborah. "Sending your child away." Los Angeles Times, , sec. Home, November 14, 2009. http://tinyurl.com/lk6dhs3 (accessed January 26, 2014).
Part I reviews much of the wilderness therapy literature, program efficacy, and controversies. Part II looks at a number of domestic and international lawsuits. Part III examines the minimal extent to which there has been regulatory oversight. Part IV provides recommendations for ensuring that wilderness therapy programs are facilitated in a way that maximizes safety and effectiveness, as well as offering a brief conclusion.
Khaya Eisenberg, and Katie M. Shipp. "Wilderness Therapy Settings: An Industry in Need of Legal and Regulatory Oversight." The Michigan Child Welfare Law Journal. no. Fall (2013): 8-27. Download Wilderness therapy settlings - Michigan Child Welfare Law Journal
Daniel Pollack, M.S.S.A. (M.S.W.), J.D., is a professor at the School of Social Work, Yeshiva University, in New York City, and a frequent expert witness in child welfare cases.
Khaya Eisenberg is a clinical psychologist and researcher working in the greater New York City area.
Katie M. Shipp is an associate at Marsh Law Firm located in New York City.