This has likely been a very difficult time for you. I cannot fully understand what it has been like for you and your family however I can share with you that our family has faced an experience of dealing with an out of control teenager. This letter is to offer you some insight into our experience with Venture Academy and to let you know that you are not alone.

When our son was 15 entering Gr. 10 his life (and ours) took a downward spiral that lasted 18 horrifying months. He began to skip school, leave the house at night through the basement window, break the law, drink, and take drugs regularly and other delinquent things I will never know, or care to know.

My husband and I responded with the usual parenting discipline strategies like grounding, removing privileges, talking to him, counselling, and even tough love. Nothing helped. His out of control behavior escalated to the point where he was not living with us for days and weeks at a time. Many a sleepless night we wondered if we would get the “worst phone call a parent can get”. Would we need to identify his body? Will we plan his funeral? Our situation seemed hopeless.

How did we get to this point? What could possibly help?

Clearly what we had tried was not working so any last ditch effort had to be drastic. He was still 17 and if anything could be done it had to happen soon. Searching the internet we inquired into Venture Academy. What could they possibly offer that we had not already tried? Regardless we had to keep trying.

Speaking with Venture Academy we felt their program offered some unique refreshing features that other programs did not offer.

  • Our son would live in a therapeutic home with people who knew how to work with troubled teens and he would not be exposed to other troubled teens fulltime.
  • He would be surrounded by therapeutic interventions in his daily routines; education, recreation, therapy and counselling sessions. For example when he needed to learn to deal with his anger his therapeutic “parents” and clinical team would all focus on this goal. Circling the wagons so to speak.
  • A period of months (not weeks) would give him the time to safely experience and try out new ways of being in real life environments; school, the mall, the gym, workplace. Success breeds success.

With a leap of faith we made the decision to proceed. Like many things in life, change does not always happen as fast as one might like. In the early days there were many days we wondered, “What have we done? Can this very expensive program possible work?” But as time went on small glimmers of hope, snippets of improvement encouraged us to believe that just maybe our family could be healed.

Home visits allowed us to see our son trying out new behaviors. I think we were all a bit scared during this time, but gradually we saw a consistent shift in his language, thinking and behaving. Looking inward we too also shifted our ways of parenting.

Our son is now discharged and our healing continues. We are not under an illusion that “it is over” by any means. We continue. Gratefully, we are rebuilding our family life with a healthy teen who is connected to our family, clean, and most importantly wanting better for himself and his future.

We are thankful to Venture Academy for helping us all move forward with our precious son alive and full of potential.

“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes it is the quiet voice in the night that says, I will try again tomorrow.” Our advice to you is, keep trying and take the next step to get help – contact Venture Academy.”

Signed a grateful mother:

– SI, Calgary