What a Wholistic Environment Can Do for a Teen’s Confidence

By Malcolm Gauld
Hyde School President

Increasingly, more and more prospective students have been diagnosed with an expanding array of cognitive and psychological labels. Some of these include:

  • Oppositional Defiance Disorder;
  • Attention Deficit Disorder;
  • Attention Deficit/Hypersensitivity Disorder;
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Conduct Disorder;
  • Teen Personality Disorder.

Not only is that the short list, but most of the above have numerous sub-categories. (For example, there are at least four known Teen Personality Disorders: 1. Borderline, 2. Narcissistic, 3. Dependent, and 4. Paranoid.) Furthermore, each of the above disorders can range in intensity from mild to extreme.

Q: Where does Hyde stand in the midst of this milieu?

First, Hyde is likely not the proper school placement for students on the extreme end of any of these disorders. However, at the same time, Hyde has proven historically to be highly productive and deeply meaningful for many students who have been deemed to fall somewhere on the spectrum of the above diagnoses.

In any case, prospective families would do well to consider Hyde a wholistic environment. The truth is we don’t spend a lot of time concerning ourselves with diagnoses.

Upon enrolling, a student quickly sees that everybody does a little bit of everything. You get to do some things that you like and/or are good at… You try some things that you do not like and/or are maybe not so good at. Therefore, pretty much every student has moments where he or she looks pretty good and/or confident and every student also has moments where he or she may look timid, uncertain, or perhaps even a bit clumsy.

The end result is that the students tend to get so immersed in a range of activities that they often don’t realize that many of the debilitating symptoms of the stated diagnosis either diminish or perhaps evaporate entirely.

I sometimes say that Hyde can be therapeutic… with a small “t.” On the one hand, we don’t perceive ourselves to be a therapeutic school. On the other, many students (and parents) have found the outcome of the Hyde experience to be quite… therapeutic.

One common outcome is for students to discover potentials they never thought they possessed. For example, the so-called “jock” begins to act upon an artistic sensibility. The so-called “geek” becomes more socially oriented. The artsy student becomes a competitive distance runner. The shy student becomes a confident public speaker.

In such circumstances, students often adopt a new view of self and begin to abandon the doubts and negative self-image that had previously weighted them down. They discover a newfound self-confidence.