Should boys and girls receive therapy in a setting that treats both genders? Well, yes and no. At Discovery Ranch, our program is a single gender hybrid. It treats boys and girls in separate therapy environments until there’s a therapeutic advantage to letting them interact.
Here’s an example of how this single gender hybrid approach benefits struggling teens. (We changed the student’s name to protect her identity.)
Janet always had to have a boy in her life and that had led to some pretty poor decision making. She was willing to do anything to feel liked by boys. In her therapy at the ranch, she’d been on a restricted protocol that allowed her no interaction with boys. In therapy sessions, she said she was sure now that she saw her thinking errors when it came to her behavior around boys. It was all just lip service.
Janet thought she could fool her therapist and Discovery Ranch staff. She tried to leave sexually explicit letters where male students would find them. Of course, her plan didn’t work. And it gave her therapist a new opportunity to help Janet realize how much time and effort she was wasting in her life trying to get attention from men.
Her therapist noted, Janet is a hollow shell. She doesn’t even dare look at herself. Her entire self-worth comes from external sources “ boys especially. Being able to discuss her behavior as it happened, but still within a safe, therapeutic setting, gave us the environment she needed to build awareness.
Discovery Ranch is not intended to protect students from their emotions. The hybrid approach is deliberately designed to help students have an emotional experience in place where they can safely work through those emotions.
As one therapist noted, it’s a little like planting trees in a protected biosphere. Scientists realized that without the wind, biosphere trees simply didn’t develop a strong enough root system to help them survive and thrive.
Discovery Ranch’s hybrid approach gives students a chance to face their emotions and master them.