Perspectives on Therapeutic Treatment from Adolescent Probationers

Published in: Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, v. 38, no. 4, Dec. 2006, p. 461-471

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2005

by Ricky N. Bluthenthal, Kara Riehman, Lisa H. Jaycox, Andrew R. Morral

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Little is known about youths' experiences in residential adolescent treatment programs. To better understand the experiences of youth in such programs, the authors conducted a longitudinal qualitative study of 10 juvenile probationers in an adolescent therapeutic community (TC) treatment setting. Seven boys and three girls were recruited into the study upon their entry into the TC. Ages ranged from 14 to 17 years old; six youths were Hispanic, three were White, and one was African-American. Each participant completed between two and six audio-recorded interviews over the course of two years. We report on youth experiences in the TC as well as after discharge or drop out. Three issues were most salient in these interviews-the positive and negative influence of peers, youth appreciation of the family counseling component, and the need for improved methods to prevent running away from the program. Regarding running away, half of the youth in our sample who ran away regretted it, suggesting that with more focused intervention some of them might have been retained in the program.

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