Teen Defiance Treated With Wilderness Therapy

Teen Defiance Treated With Wilderness Therapy

Teen Defiance Treated With Wilderness Therapy

It is quite common for youth to show defiance towards parents and other authority figures at some point in their lives. However, when said defiant behavior becomes more frequent and intense, it may be due to a condition that is known as, oppositional defiance disorder (or ODD). ODD is a severe adolescent mental health disorder that is characterized by frequent and flagrant disobedient behaviors towards authority figures of any kind. Additionally,  This mental health condition can only be confirmed through testing and professional diagnosis by a licensed psychologist or other qualified healthcare practitioners.

What Is Teen Defiance?

Teen defiance can manifest as short-term behaviors or last years at a time. In order to qualify as ODD, at least four or more of the symptoms associated with the disorder must be present.  

Symptoms of Oppositional Defiant Disorder (must last at least six months in duration and cause serious problems at school or home): 

  • Argumentative behavior
  • Irritable mood
  • Physical aggression
  • Verbal aggression
  • Vindictiveness
  • Frequent outbursts

Why WinGate Wilderness? Check Out Our Mission Statement Below!

Our Goal: To Help Facilitate Change That Will Last a Lifetime

Our goal is to provide immediate and lasting solutions to your child's problems. At WinGate Wilderness Therapy, you can rest assured that your child will receive appropriate treatment in a caring and professional environment. The results are nothing short of life changing! At WinGate, our young students have the opportunity to reconnect with their true self in a challenging and caring environment.

WinGate reunites & restores families by:

  • Creating opportunities for real change & exponential growth
  • Serving the entire family & providing life-saving therapeutic intervention
  • Decreasing resistance to change while providing substantial, lasting change

Please don't hesitate to call (800) 560-1599 and speak with a WinGate representative and learn more about the possible solutions to your child's struggles.

More Facts about Oppositional Defiant Disorder: 

  • Can cause significant dysfunction within the family, school, or workplace of teen
  • Typically begins to manifest prior to young adulthood ( typically before 8-years old) But can manifest at any time during adolescence
  • Children with ODD are frequently embroiled in conflicts with authority, or even with other peers
  • There are four Subtypes: ano-odd; severe odd; defiant moderate ODD and irritable moderate ODD
  • There are no known, scientifically validated causes - However, behavioral scientists believe the cause of ODD to be a mixture of genetic and environmental factors
  • 40% of teens with ODD have a co-occurring diagnosis of ADHD

Teen Defiance Subtypes

Four subtypes of defiance (ODD specifically) have been identified. They are ano-ODD; severe ODD; defiant moderate ODD and irritable moderate ODD. Of these, irritable ODD and severe ODD are associated with anxiety and affective disorders with suicidal tendencies with irritable ODD linked with criminal behaviors.

Causes Of Defiance

From a clinical standpoint, the causes of this condition are not confirmed. It is believed that a combination of factors including inherited genetic predisposition and environmental influences are major contributors. There has been some evidence that the neurobiological makeup or physical hardwiring of the brain may increase the risk, as well as teens who experience traumatic or dysfunctional events within the home.

There is also an increased risk when the teen is involved in drug or alcohol abuse or has been diagnosed with other behavioral disorders including ADD/ADHD. Those with lower coping skills are more likely to exhibit extremely defiant behaviors.

Common Signs Of Teen Defiance

There are a variety of signs that may indicate that a teen has developed oppositional defiant disorder. These signs include: 

  • Frequent disputes with family and others 
  • A difficulty with expressing/feeling empathy
  • A difficulty with getting along with peers
  • Combative" attitude 
  • Frequent challenging of authority figures of any kind (parent, pastor, teacher, etc.)  

Symptoms Of Defiance Disorder

The common symptoms of Defiance Disorder are frequent argumentative behavior, vindictiveness, anger, and irritability. While it is more common for siblings to have combative relationships, those who exhibit ODD will typically fight with other siblings on a near-constant basis.

If four or more of the following symptoms are present, Parent-Child diagnosis will be made along with recommendations for treatment.

Irritable And Angry Mood

Teens with ODD have a proclivity to lose their temper and are often easily annoyed by others.

Generally speaking, diagnosed teens tend to be oversensitive and are easily offended. These anti-social behaviors and feelings lead most ODD-afflicted teens to appear as though they are constantly angry or "moody." 

Defiant And Argumentative Behavior

Teens with ODD exhibit noncompliant behaviors and sentiments such as: 

  • Arguing with adults (especially in regards to how they are being oppressed by rules)
  • Exhibiting behaviors that are intended to annoy others 
  • Feel as though everyone is against them 
  • Feel as though they are constantly being misportrayed and therefore, misunderstood


Defiant teens tend to have a "get even policy." In other words, if a defiant teen is offended by someone, they may feel vindicated by hurting or damaging that person, verbally or otherwise. 

Typical Treatment For Teen Defiance 

The specific treatment for Oppositional Defiance Disorder depends on the severity of said disorder, as well as if there are dual diagnoses involved. The duration of cognitive treatment is often several months. Unfortunately, at this time,  there are no known medications that are effective in actually treating ODD. Cognitive therapies are the current standard ODD-treatment and generally includes parental training.

Parent Training

Parent training typically begins with the entire family of a troubled teen being given information about the condition to establish a knowledge base. Afterward, parents train and work on developing new and improved parenting skills and techniques (which are less inflammatory to the teen) such as developing goals and learning how to handle problems as they arise.

Parent-Child Interaction Therapy

This type of therapy is characterized by therapists coaching parents on how to interact with their out of control, albeit, mentally ill, troubled teenage boy or girl. This particularly nuanced approach has been shown to be effective in decreasing all around behavioral and emotional issues in troubled teens.

Throughout Parent-Child Interaction Therapy, parents learn things like 'parenting habits,'how to avoid self-condemnation, and how to properly handle the oppositional behaviors of their teenage child.  

Individual Therapy

The teen is given individual counseling for anger management and improving relationships. Identification of problematic thought and behavior patterns are tackled through cognitive problem solving and training so the teen may learn and practice healthier communication methods and improving relationships. The teen also learns how to collaborate others without initiating conflicts.

Although some parenting techniques may seem like common sense, learning to use them in the face of opposition isn't easy, especially if there are other stressors at home. Learning these skills will require consistent practice and patience. Therapeutic intervention has shown to be among the most effective methods for treating teen defiance. This option is even more highly recommended if dual diagnosis is present.  

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Benefits Of Enrollment In Wingate Wilderness Therapy

Parents who are raising a troubled teen have an exceptionally effective option available for boys and girls who are age 13 through 17. Wingate Wilderness Therapy is dedicated to assisting troubled teens with specializations in working with youth who suffer from a dual diagnosis (two or more co-occurring mental health disorders).

As a proud member of the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP), we provide troubled teens with a balanced program that is fully licensed by the state of Utah.

Since every teen that comes our way is unique, we at WinGate believe their treatment should reflect their individual, therapeutic needs.

At WinGate, our fully-licensed therapists provide an individualized treatment program that is specifically designed to treat the individual needs of each camper. This fully individualized treatment model, when conflated with the unimaginably beautiful and therapeutic surroundings of natural wilderness, is what makes the WinGate such a uniquely effective and proven wilderness therapy program. 

Why Wilderness Therapy?

The following excerpt can be found on our 'Why Wilderness' page.

At WinGate, we believe that wilderness therapy is an effective form of treatment for young adults because it combines established therapeutic practices with a wilderness environment that is itself healing.

In fact, there are certain aspects of wilderness that act as treatment effect multipliers. Treatment effect multipliers are certain factors, identified from psychology and counseling research, that magnify the effectiveness of conventional therapy of young adults.

This means that treatment conducted in a wilderness setting can be more powerful than treatment in indoor settings. Several research studies have shown the benefit of wilderness therapy for a variety of issues, including substance abuse/addictions, depression, anxiety, ADD, ADHD, personality disorders, and motivation issues.