Guiding Troubled Teens on a Hero’s Journey
Many teens struggling with a variety of emotional, social, and behavioral issues are often referred to as “troubled.” At Equinox, we reject the stigma attached to the phrase “troubled” and make a greater effort to understand the underlying issues that have contributed to “troubling” behaviors. We believe labels like “troubled teens” are blanket statements that generalize solutions instead of individualizing treatment plans based on each student’s strengths and needs. Although the boys we work with struggle with a variety of issues, the common theme of their stories is that they are all on “Hero’s Journeys” to overcome personal challenges.
What is the Hero’s Journey?
Joseph Campbell proposed the idea of the “archetypal hero” in his book, “The Hero with a Thousand Faces,” after noticing that every myth he studied from around the world featured a similar story line. He observed that the main character in every story often had a tragic past and was on a journey of redemption, however, they continued to face challenges along the way. Every “hero’s journey” included many of the same archetypal elements, including mentors, tests, and obstacles that appeared in a variety of forms. These stories are full of powerful learning experiences, usually related to facing fears, growing up or protecting others.
Elements Integrated into Equinox’s Program
The Hero’s Journey is an important part of our program at Equinox because it helps our students to learn about and understand their lives and the experiences that lead them through growth and change. While we believe that every student’s journey through our program is individual, when we separate them from negative coping skills and beliefs about themselves, they realize that they are on the same journey as their peers. Recognizing that they have this in common even if they have struggled with different issues teachers them how to support each other and mentor others at different stages of their journeys.
As they compare their own life stories to the hero’s journey, “troubled teens” are empowered to overcome the obstacles they have faced in their own lives:
Separation: At this phase, the hero often feels lost and accepts that there are many changes he may have to make in his life. As he recognizes he has a lot to learn, he accepts the challenge of leaving his comfort zone to follow his adventure. Often, he is consumed with fear and insecurity about what may await.
Threshold: This phase refers to first embarking on the adventure and trying to prepare for future challenges he may phase. Once your son embraces the idea of change, he encounters a new culture with different rules, expectations, and relationships. This stage involves accepting help from others who offer insight, training, and guidance.
Initiation: After the hero has crossed the threshold, he begins to take responsibility for the outcomes of his choices and sets personal goals for moving forward. Supportive mentors help your son in this stage as he learns new coping skills and gains confidence. At this stage of self-discovery, there is “no turning back.”
Transformation: The hero begins to transform as he gains a deeper understanding of the challenges he faces and is able to apply the skills he’s learned to real-life experiences. In this process, he realizes his old patterns of living are no longer relevant and uses his new skills and strengths transform the way he lives his life.
Atonement: This period of transformation is marked by a new sense of inner peace and accomplishment. As he has addressed his fears, he has become more wise, independent, and optimistic about his future.
Return: During this phase, the hero prepares to transition home and share the skills he has learned with others. For some heroes, they see their return as coming full circle, while for others, it is a launching point for their next journey. With the transition and family therapy resources provided along the way, families also have the skills to create a structured, supportive environment to welcome their son home.
Equinox Can Help
Equinox RTC is a residential treatment center helping boys ages 14-18 who struggle with low self-esteem and addictive behaviors. Our residential program offers a unique treatment program designed to fit each student’s specific needs. This treatment center has a supportive environment that helps students heal from the inside-out. They will be exposed to both positive and negative outcomes as a part of equipping them to cope with the challenges that the real world can bring. Students develop a healthy sense of social and emotional awareness. Additionally, they learn how to incorporate good habits into their daily lives. Equinox enforces a positive change in the lives of young men and offers them a fresh start at a happy and healthy future. We encourage “troubled teens” to be the heroes of their own stories!
Contact us at 877-279-8925. We can help your family today!