From Wilderness Therapy to Therapeutic Boarding School

After I graduated from wilderness, I found out I was being sent to Greenbrier Academy for Girls. Initially, I was not too pleased that I’d be attending a therapeutic boarding school, since I thought that ten weeks in a wilderness program should have been more than enough work to let me return home. However, after being at Greenbrier Academy for almost a full year now, it’s clear to me that I needed a transition back into society that would help prepare me to handle situations differently than I had before being sent away. If I had immediately returned home after wilderness, it would have been extremely overwhelming and far more difficult to resist relapsing. Wilderness had covered the important basics of therapy, but I still needed to learn how to use these to my advantage.

One Year at Therapeutic Boarding School

One year ago, I was a completely different person than I am today. For example, I refused to go to school so I could sleep literally every week, never did or turned in any of my assignments, and put little to no effort into doing quality work. I eventually decided I wanted to drop out and get a GED instead. Luckily, I was sent away before I had time to follow through with this because I’m now looking at various colleges, getting good grades, and studying for my SATs. Greenbrier Academy helped me get caught up on the credits I needed which made me feel like working hard could get me another chance at an education.

Another huge problem I used to have was a poor relationship with my parents. My mother and I rarely ever spoke, and when we did it would usually be through an argument of some sort. I had no gratitude for all the things she did for me, and I decided which rules were or were not worth following regardless of what she said or did. However, even after my first Parent Program at GBA, we both noticed tremendous improvements in our communication skills. We can respectfully talk things out, and we both feel like the other person is listening to what we have to say. I just recently finished my final Parent Program, and I often feel like my mom is not only a parental figure but also my friend. When it comes to my father, although I didn’t see him very much growing up, we’ve been able to discuss issues that were avoided or completely ignored in the past. I can honestly say my relationship with my parents is the best it’s ever been.

Lasting Change

Lastly, my final main problem was severe drug abuse, mainly to numb away the depression I had been facing for several years. I looked very unhealthy from the constant drug use and believed that natural good moods were insignificant compared to the ones I got when I was high. Drugs eventually ended up taking control over every aspect of my life, and I felt disconnected from the rest of the world because nobody seemed to understand what I was going through. Once I started working with the therapists at Greenbrier, I was able to realize the true problems that led to my unhealthy lifestyle, and for the first time in years I experience a good mood naturally and fully appreciate it. Having the support of both the therapists and the other girls made this improvement possible because I was finally surrounded by people who understood what I was going through and didn’t judge me for it.

Life After Wilderness and Therapeutic Boarding School

Although nobody’s perfect and making mistakes is inevitable, I know I’ll be okay because of all the skills I’ve learned here. Even after I graduate, Greenbrier doesn’t make me face the challenges ahead alone. Most people never have this type of opportunity, and if the chance ever arises to have this type of experience or give it to somebody else, I highly recommend that they take it.

-A, 17, current student