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Finding the Right Therapeutic Boarding School: Hope for Your Troubled Teen

Find the Right Therapeutic Boarding School for Your Child

Updated on March 27, 2024

Discovering that your teen needs more support than traditional schooling and the home environment can offer is an epiphany.  In the journey towards healing and growth, therapeutic boarding schools stand out as beacons of hope, offering a blend of academic rigor and personalized therapeutic care.

This blog is designed to help you select the right therapeutic boarding school, ensuring a path to recovery and success for your struggling teen.

What is a Therapeutic Boarding School (TBS)?

A therapeutic boarding school (TBS) is a residential alternative school specifically designed to help teens overcome emotional, cognitive, and behavioral challenges.

It combines a structured academic environment with intensive therapy and counseling, offering a safe and supportive space for healing

How Do Therapeutic Boarding Schools Help Troubled Teens?

  • Personalized Support: Teachers, psychologists, and counselors work closely with students to address their unique needs and restore emotional and mental health.
  • Structured Environment: A TBS provides a consistent schedule and healthy routines, which can be lacking in a troubled teen’s home life.
  • Outdoor Activities: Many therapeutic boarding schools offer hiking, horseback riding, sports, and other activities to promote physical and emotional well-being.
  • Supervised Environment: Round-the-clock supervision ensures safety and allows staff to intervene immediately when unwanted behaviors arise.

What Does a Therapeutic Boarding School Cost?

Tuition costs at a TBS can vary. To get accurate information, it’s best to contact the schools directly to discuss costs and payment options. Our family advisors can help streamline your search and provide valuable information about costs and choosing the right TBS for your teen.

An Environment Designed for Healing, Recovery and Learning

A therapeutic boarding school campus is beautifully landscaped and usually in the countryside. Classes are held in the same building where students live in a dorm-like setting. Students will have free time included in their schedule so they can participate in individual and group activities outside the main building.

Parents should be reassured that the environment in which their teen will receive school classes and participate in therapy is highly structured and monitored. Students can never leave the main facility without being accompanied by an adult supervisor.

All indoor and outdoor activities are monitored to prevent disruptions within the therapeutically controlled environment. In addition, this methodical supervision of all students reinforces the ability of teachers and counselors to stop and address unwanted behaviors immediately.

How Therapeutic Boarding Schools Transform Troubled Teens’ Lives

Therapeutic boarding schools provide a safe and transformative environment where struggling teens can break unhealthy patterns and build essential life skills.  There’s evidence and many benefits of therapeutic boarding school for teens facing challenges like mental illness, substance abuse, personality disorders, or behavioral issues:

  • Removal from Negative Influences: Distance from harmful environments and relationships allows teens to focus on healing without constant triggers.
  • Intensive Therapy and Support: Trained professionals offer individualized therapy and counseling, addressing the root causes of the teen’s struggles.
  • Structure and Healthy Routines: A consistent schedule and focus on healthy habits promote stability and self-regulation.
  • Development of Coping Skills: Teens learn healthy ways to manage emotions and stress, building resilience for the future

Play Video about Video: Parents explaining why they decided to send their daughter to a therapeutic boarding school and what happened next.

Signs Your Teen Might Benefit from a Therapeutic Boarding School

  • Academic Struggles: Persistent failing grades, truancy, refusal to engage with schoolwork despite diagnosed learning disabilities or mental health conditions.
  • Emotional Volatility: Frequent outbursts, extreme mood swings, difficulty regulating emotions (beyond typical teenage behavior).
  • Defiance and Conflict: Ongoing arguments, rule-breaking, aggression towards authority figures or others.
  • Self-Destructive Behaviors: Indications of substance abuse, self-harm, talk of suicide.
  • Isolation: Withdrawal from friends, family, and activities they once enjoyed.
  • Continued Struggle with Mental Health Conditions: Major depression or general anxiety disorder, learning disabilities, conduct disorders, ADD, ADHD, ODD, or general angst that interferes with their academic progress. 

When Should a Parent Consider a TBS for their Teen?

When Traditional Support (Therapy and Medication) is Not Enough

How can you, as a parent, recognize the moment it’s time to consider a therapeutic boarding school (TBS) for your troubled teen? Consulting with educational and mental health professionals such as school counselors, teachers, and adolescent psychologists is a crucial first step.

These experts can offer invaluable insights into whether a TBS could be a beneficial next step for your child.

If you’ve already sought assistance through therapy, guidance from school counselors, or medication, yet find your teen’s struggles persist or even escalate, it might be time to explore the potential of a more structured and nurturing environment like a therapeutic boarding school.

For many parents, the tough decision to enroll their teen in a TBS is often reached after serious incidents such as arrests, school expulsions, violent behaviors, threats of harm, or when their teen becomes overwhelmingly difficult to manage.

By the time this decision is considered, many parents have already pursued a diagnosis for their teen from a psychiatrist or psychologist, identifying one or more underlying disorders.

Despite these efforts, the situation might be complicated by ineffective medication or the teen’s refusal to take prescribed medication that could offer relief.

When it comes time to remove the teen from their home environment, parents might need to consider talking to an intervention specialist who is trained to deal with uncooperative teens.

The Path to a Therapeutic Boarding School

The admissions process into a TBS involves the teen’s consulting physicians, mental health specialists, and parents discussing the teen’s psychological and emotional problems. The teen’s past behavioral demonstrations and diagnosis are also used to develop a treatment program unique to their needs. Therapeutic boarding schools admit teens admission is year-around. 


5 Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Therapeutic Boarding School for Your Troubled Teen

    • Don’t assume schools on a ‘best therapeutic schools’ list are automatically suitable for your teen. Thoroughly research each school you’re interested in before contacting it.
    • Ask the TBS about their accreditation and licensing status. Reputable accrediting agencies include The National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP) and others.

    • Be aware that an emotional growth school is not a therapeutic school. The two terms are often used interchangeably in online articles about troubled teens.
      • An emotional growth school does not offer academic studies or intense therapy and counseling for teens with serious emotional and mental health issues. Instead, it focuses on improving a teen’s self-esteem, self-acceptance, and self-awareness by offering holistic workshops and group activities with peers.

    • Ask the TBS about their accreditation and licensing status before inquiring about anything else. The National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs is one such accrediting agency that can be trusted.

    • Ask about the academic programs offered by the TBS. Programs should be constructed to assist students in achieving their current grade level (if they are behind) and prepare them for college courses, if applicable.

    • Does the therapeutic boarding school provide ample time for teens to enjoy leisure activities with peers? Find out what kind of activities the school offers and if these activities are conducive to improving a teen’s life skills and communication abilities.

If you are a parent of a teen who is out of control and you don’t know what else to do to help your teen, please contact today to learn more about the benefits of a therapeutic boarding school

We provide comprehensive assistance to parents who have exhausted all options and need guidance for the next step.”

Speak to an expert about Finding the Right Therapeutic Boarding School: Hope for Your Troubled Teen and your teenager.

Connect with an Admissions Counselor who specializes in "comorbidity, mental health treatment" to help your teen begin their recovery today.

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