What Is A Therapeutic Boarding School?

If you are looking for help for your troubled teenager, you’ve probably reviewed many therapeutic boarding schools. So let’s look at these programs and see if they’re suitable for your teenager.

The “Therapy” in “Therapeutic”

Therapy is arguably the most crucial element of any therapeutic boarding school. Offering troubled teens a chance to tackle some of their deeper issues can open them up to an entirely new way of living their lives. As such, therapeutic programs aim to create safe, supportive environments in addition to therapy so that teenagers feel secure enough to open up and get vulnerable. Once teenagers can face some of their more challenging internal conflicts, they often find themselves able to address life problems.

As the parent of a troubled teen, you may have already turned to outpatient therapy as you’ve looked for ways to help your child. So what makes therapy in a boarding school different? While general treatment can be helpful, therapeutic boarding schools specialize in therapies that have been most successful with troubled kids. These therapies can include but aren’t limited to, equine therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), group sessions, individual sessions, and family sessions.

The goal of a therapeutic boarding school is usually to create an entire therapeutic atmosphere rather than just a few sessions here and there. When troubled teenagers have their therapeutic sessions backed up by a positive peer group and a support structure, they’re usually able to make much more progress than they would in a less structured environment. Sometimes, keeping a teen in their current social group of friends and influences can keep them down.

A Unique Approach to Education

As the parent of a troubled teen, you probably already know the impact their behavior has had on their grades. Maybe your son or daughter is skipping class and is at odds with the school administration. Perhaps they’ve stopped doing their work, and their rates are slipping. Therapeutic boarding schools offer specialized services to help with exactly these situations.

Many therapeutic centers offer academic recovery programs. These programs are designed to help teenagers get back on track in school, makeup the credits they’ve missed, and get back on the road to graduation. The academic services in these programs are also specifically developed to meet individual students’ needs. For example, foragers with learning disabilities like ADHD, dyslexia, or ADD can receive the attention that isn’t available in traditional schools. Therapeutic schools take the time to understand their students and provide them with academics at their level and pace.

Religion, Spirituality, or Neither?

Most therapeutic programs include a spiritual component, as well. It can be beneficial for teenagers, particularly those raised with a religious tradition, to re-discover their spiritual connection to overcome negative behavior. Christian therapeutic programs offer a dynamic combination of education, therapy, and faith which can make an effective and long-lasting change in young people.

That’s not to say that all therapeutic boarding schools are faith-based programs, however. Many schools avoid religion entirely for teenagers without a religious background or an extreme aversion to spirituality. They might have non-denominational services, offer flexible conceptions of a Higher Power, or none of the above. While spirituality of some kind can be transformative for troubled teens, it is not always mandatory. Many teenagers find the transformation they need through therapy and support systems alone.

Typical Therapeutic Models Found at a Therapeutic Boarding School:

  • Cognitive Behavioral
  • Dialectical Behavior
  • Experiential
  • Narrative
  • Rational Emotive Behavior
  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Crisis Management
  • Narcotics/Alcoholics Anonymous
  • Smart Recovery
  • Addiction/Substance Abuse Counseling
  • Experiential Therapy
  • Structural Family Therapy
  • Solution Focused Therapy
  • Psycho-Educational Therapy
  • Trauma Based Approaches
  • Art Therapy
  • Equine Assisted Psychotherapy

The Ideal Candidate

Now that you know a little about what goes on in therapeutic programs, how do you know if these programs suit your teenager? The main criteria for these programs include the following:

  • Academic struggles, including poor attendance, slipping grades, or acting out in the classroom.
  • Behavioral disorders, e.g., ADHD, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, Conduct Disorder, etc.
  • Substance abuse
  • Anger problems
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Minor criminal behavior
  • Lying or deception

If your teenager displays some or all of these symptoms, these programs can help them. You can check out our directory for a comprehensive listing of therapeutic boarding schools across the country to find the perfect program for your son or daughter. Remember, although they all have a similar purpose, therapeutic schools have significant differences. So research them as thoroughly as possible to find the perfect fit. Help is available, and with an ever-increasing number of therapeutic boarding schools, you’re sure to find one that matches your teenager’s needs.

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