Alldredge Wilderness Journey
Nancy Gregory
Aug 5, 2003, 20:22

Rescuing A Teen In Despair: A Message From A Grateful Alldredge Parent

I have been a parent for close to 21 years and there's so much I didn't know. I had never heard of an educational consultant, Wilderness programs, Therapeutic Boarding schools or Emotional Growth Schools. Didn't know about cutting, anxiety disorders, and alcohol abuse. We knew our son was depressed - was first diagnosed at the age of ten. Despite medication and counseling on and off for the last seven years, he has slowly sunk deeper and deeper into a very dark place. I have been worried about him for such a long time but had no idea of the depths of his pain and destructive behavior.

All of that changed this past Spring. Our son spent ten days in the psychiatric ward at the local Children's Hospital and then moved on to a day treatment program for three weeks. During this time, our son was very much in denial about the depths of his problems. He insisted that he was fine, that we should just leave him alone and let him get back to his life. All of my instincts were telling me he needed more help, more treatment but I didn't know where to turn. It was then that we heard about Alldredge Academy.

My son's therapist put us in touch with an extraordinary educational
consultant. The consultant met with my family and presented treatment options for helping to save my son's life. The consultant told our son that he needed to take three months out of his life to save his life. Guaranteed that after spending three months at Alldredge, what he felt on the inside would be what he showed on the outside. Our son reluctantly agreed to go.

During the last three months, Alldredge has taken our family on an extraordinary journey. The counselors and instructors taught us about the connections that families and their problems have to do with the resulting behavior of their struggling teens. They helped us to understand the roles that we each play in each others lives and how we can work together to help heal the wounds and rebuild our relationships with each other.

Most importantly, they helped my son understand his demons and how he got to this dark place. They helped him tear down the barriers he had built up around him and to begin to see his true self and the gifts and talents the rest of us see in him. These compassionate, gifted counselors taught our son how to identify and recognize triggers that led to his destructive behavior and taught him coping strategies that are empowering him to make positive choices in how he wants to live his life. Finally, they helped him to see that he has to want to save his own life - no one else can do that for him They helped him to see that as much as he wanted to come back home to school, in reality, it would be the worst thing possible for him.

I don't know how you thank someone for saving your son's life. How can you possibly repay these people who guided your son out of a long, dark tunnel to see hope and possibilities for the first time since he was too young to remember? These people who worked with your son night and day for three exhausting months, who helped him and us see the rainbow of possibilities the world can offer him. My mother always said that the best thing you can do to thank someone is to write a note. So, thank you, Bradley, Ian, Keith, Cary, Mike, Bart, John, Bobby, Michelle, Cathy and all the others at Alldredge for rescuing a boy in pain and giving us our son back.

Nancy Gregory
Arlington, Virginia

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