There are different programs in alternative schools and they may run for weeks or months at a time. One of the most favoured programs in alternative schools is therapeutic wilderness programs. When exposed to outdoor situations, it is possible for teachers to positively influence students with physical and emotional challenges to get through their conditions. It is important for students to understand their physical and emotional challenges, so they will better understand any unhealthy behaviour that they may have. It should be easier for them to gain much more positive sense of responsibility and sense of self. Group therapy sessions in the wilderness settings should also help adolescents learn to interact successfully with peers. This program should be appropriate for teenagers who have displayed extreme defiance, such as aggression, violence, substance abuse, sexual promiscuity, extremely poor school performance and a history of running away from home.
Programs in alternative schools should be aimed as a successful transition to allow emotional growth. There are residential treatment centers that could work well for troubled adolescents. In some cases, it is necessary to combine therapeutic programs with emotional growth sessions. This should provide troubled students with solutions to their psychological, emotional and behavioural issues. These problems could actually prevent students from having effective learning in conventional school environments. Therapies should occur daily, with weekly or monthly evaluations. They could have highly structured living and learning environments to better improve their situations. We should also consider individualized academic programming and experiential learning. Negative perceptions of self and low self esteem are often considered as the root of multiple emotional and behavioural challenges.
Emotional growth program should be able to permanently assist students to change their negative self perceptions. They need to be able to discover and heal emotional traumas. This should help them to identify and change negative behaviours. Alternative schools with integrated emotional growth programs could offer rolling admission to provide flexibility for parents. Students who have undergone wilderness therapeutic sessions and other programs should be tested further to determine whether they have progressed well. There should be improvements in academic performance and they may no longer have typical emotional problems. Trained teachers and counsellors must be available to asses and improve student performance. Schools may also apply incentive-based learning to improve students’ emotional coping skills, as well as academic performance, interpersonal and decision-making skills.
Parents who are considering alternative schools for their children should carefully investigate the schools’ available programs, credentials and curriculum. This should make sure that all the needs of their children can be met and they will achieve any long-term program. Parents should know that there are no quick fixes for their problems. Not all schools have therapeutic components and it should be noted that specific “boot camp” methods can be risky or even unsafe for children and very troubled teenagers. Programs should be run only by trained and certified counsellors. Making the right decision can be difficult and challenging, but parents often need to do this.