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Teens in the Wild

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

"In the second series of the acclaimed 'Teens in the Wild', Clinical psychologist David Coleman once again takes a group of six troubled teenagers, on a 21 day wilderness activities and therapy course. This time, in the wilds of Donegal, he works with girls, aged 14-17, who are struggling with issues including anger management, bereavement, separation and problems at school - all of which have resulted in strained relations with their parents who are at breaking point.

The activities element of the programme devised especially for this project by the Gartan Outdoor Education Centre is fundamental to the overall aim of the project i.e. improving each teen's self esteem and confidence. As David Coleman says "Poor behaviour is rooted in low self-esteem. The aim of this unique project is to build the teens up not break them down."

For the three weeks, the girls live in an isolated cabin (under the supervision of the Gartan instructors) on the perimeter of Glenveagh National Park. Far removed from the usual teenage temptations and distractions, David's hope is that the girls focus on their issues and work through them with him, giving each of them the opportunity to start making some positive change in their lives.

While their isolation gives them much needed 'space' from their usual environment, some of the girls find the 'cold turkey' difficult to endure. Three weeks without their own mobile phones, laptops, night life and contact with the outside world is a true endurance test.

During the three week course, David invites the parents to a separate wilderness location in Donegal to explore with him, what possible reasons may lay at the root of their teen's misbehaviour. These intense 'sessions' also help the parents to realise that they too need to be open to change.

Episode Guide:

Programme 1:

Opens with a profile of each of our six teenagers. We get a glimpse of their behaviour at home and their parents tell David of their very real concerns for them. For some, this course is their last hope to get their daughter back on track.

The first week is not easy for our group of complete strangers. We focus on how they are settling (or not) into their cabin in one of the most remote parts of Donegal. Miles from friends, family and everyday life, it is more difficult for some than others but David is on hand to witness the group dynamic and to attempt smooth the way. Within days however, some are finding it too much and want to go home." REF: RTE PRESS

Meet the Girls:

"Lisa (14, Dublin) often goes missing, has dropped out of school and her parents worry for her safety. Sometime ago Lisa was the victim of a serious physical assault which her parents feel has affected her behaviour.

Ashling (17, Clare) has battled with anorexia in the past. Her parents worry that she has no focus and suffers from low self esteem.

Aine (15, Donegal) often goes missing without leaving any clue as to her whereabouts which is a constant worry for her mum.

Emer (14, Meath) gets into trouble at school and seems to take no guidance from her single dad which leads to frequent arguments at home.

Amy (16. Limerick) misses a lot of school, finds it difficult to keep a lid on her anger and can be both physically and verbally abusive.

Niamh (16, Dublin) is not in school, is verbally and physically abusive at home and her mum lives in fear of where she will end up". REF: http://www.rteguide.ie/star_of_the_day.html

David Coleman

David Coleman attended University College Dublin. David is a clinical psychologist who has been practicing Clinical Psychologist working with children and families for over eleven years.

David is the author of the bestselling book 'Parenting is Child's Play'.

TV Shows:-

Meet the Family
Families in Trouble
Teens in the Wild
21st Century Child

David gives lectures and workshops to groups all around the country on topics ranging from parenting to communication.

He is also a weekly expert contributor to the Parenting Section of Health Plus the Irish Times' weekly supplement every Tuesday.


What did you study in UCD?

I studied Psychology at UCD. At the time I didn't even think I would pursue it. At Postgraduate level at UCD I knew I could specialise - I did that in Clinical Psychology.

How did you get into TV?

I got into it by pure chance. I was working in the mid west. My kids were in school there and someone from a production company producing 'Families in Trouble' asked a school do they know any childhood experts. The school said they should try a psychologist and they passed on my number. They called and I went through a series of screen tests and I got the job.

In the new series of Teens in the Wild were the girls different to deal with compared to the boys from last series?

Yes, they were different to deal with. Girls were more clued into relationships and boys were into activities and the rough and tumble element of it.

What kind of problems were the parents going through with the girls?

A whole range of problems - the girls were having trouble in school and some of them has dropped out of school, a lot of them were verbally abusive at home, a lot of shouting and roaring and conflict. The parents were just really worried as some of them were going out and not coming back at night.

Were there any items they weren't allowed to pack?

They were allowed to take make up but no phones or no laptops. It was very much about getting away from the world they are used to at home.

How did u select the participants? Did they get in touch with you or was it the parents?

There was an open invite and we had a range of people. There were some parents and some teenagers who got in touch with us. We did have to of course get full agreement from the teenagers parents for them to appear.

When does it become more than teenage angst?

The years between 13 and 16 are the most difficult for teenagers as there are a lot of physical and emotional changes happening to them. Between 16 and 17 things tend to settle down a bit as they are trying to make sense of who they are.

What were the girls routine?

We had them leaving the house for half nine or ten. It would depend on the activities on the day. Routine is good but you don't need a strict regime and the camp was more about building up their confidence and self esteem. The camp was about getting internal motivation going - if they didn't want to get out of bed there's a limit to what you can do - it was all about encouraging them to get out of bed and sometimes the other girls were great at encouraging each other.

What advice would you give parents at home who have children that are troublesome?

I suppose the first thing is not to ever give up hope and to keep trying to give your child trust even if they have broken that trust but it's you as the adult that has to put out an olive branch. Do continue to set limits as you can't let them away with murder and also don't give up on them. Sometimes parents think they have no control and they stop trying. I think as a parent you have to give them some guidance and direction.

You also have to listen more to teenagers as when they get older they need to be able to take on more responsibility for their own decision and they need to be involved in making those decisions and the only way to do that is making their voice heard. For you as an adult to sit back and review what they want and don't just assume your word is law - you need to share your responsibility through more negotiation.

Do you keep in touch with any of the boys from last series?

I stay in touch with the parents and if I'm not in contact the production company is - they all know that my door is open if they need me. I have also kept in touch with the girl's families since we finished filming the series.

Was there a point in last series when you finally saw that you were getting through to the boys?

There was a clip with Noel when he describes his mother as his guardian angel.


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