Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

An Exploratory Study on Adult Survivors of the Troubled Teen Industry's Therapeutic Boarding Schools and Wilderness Programs
by Stull, Olivia A., Ph.D., , 2020, 246; 28027111
Abstract (Summary)

As an increasing number of narrative reports and exploratory studies are being published on the Troubled Teen Industry (TTI), there remains a deficit of studies utilizing both qualitative and quantitative data have been published to date. Including quantitative data greatly enriches the information provided by qualitative methods and allows for comparisons to be made between these survivors and their adult peers. This study included both an open-ended survey, as well as quantitative assessments of personality, trauma, depression, anxiety, substance use, and family structure. This foundational data will facilitate steps towards better regulations on the TTI, as well as more effective treatment for these adult survivors. Ultimately, data from this study may prevent ongoing harm, as well as inform mental health providers about the needs of these individuals. Results from this study indicate that the vast majority of participants have overwhelmingly negative opinions of the TTI, even decades after leaving their programs, highlighting the intensity of their experiences and the magnitude of the impact their enrollment had on their lives. Most participants described their TTI experience as horrible and traumatic, and felt like they had been brainwashed and/or abused. While there were exceptions to this finding, they were often because of even more abusive home environments participants were living in before TTI enrollment. Furthermore, the contributing factors that led to mixed or positive feelings towards their TTI program do not necessarily warrant enrollment in a program that was reported as highly abusive by the majority of individuals, especially when safer alternatives exist. Ultimately, three main themes emerged from this data: TTI enrollment is harmful, TTI enrollment can be avoided with proper treatment and familial support, and legal changes need to be made to stop the abuse that happens within TTI programs.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kerr, Barbara A.
Commitee: Hansen, David, Mikinski, Tamara C., Cole, Brian, Mendenhall, Amy
Department: Counseling Psychology
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Counseling Psychology, Educational psychology
Keywords: Therapeutic boarding schools, Troubled teen industry, Wilderness programs
Publication Number: 28027111
ISBN: 9798664771909
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