Residential Treatment Centers

Youth Program Life

Academics at the featured youth programs:
All students can earn high school credit while at these youth programs. Most of these youth programs are accredited by the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges. Students are evaluated upon entrance to the youth program and then placed in an ambitious course of study. In order for the student to earn credit for a class and move to the next course at the youth program, each class must be passed at a level of 80% or better. Credits will transfer to any college, university, and local high school. Students can also earn a diploma directly from the youth program.

On and off grounds activities provide a proper balance of recreation, exercise, learning, personal development, and social opportunities. Initially all activities are on grounds. Over a period of time, students earn the privilege of participating in off grounds activities near the youth program. All of the youth programs are located where there are a variety of activities.

Behavior Modification-
High standards exist at all these youth programs. Inappropriate behavior at the youth program is confronted, given consequences, and redirected, while appropriate behavior is reinforced and rewarded. The Programs offer tight supervision around the clock. Each student follows a vigorous daily schedule and a firm set of rules at the youth program. A merit system is used at each youth program requiring each student to earn their status and privileges. As students advance, each level offers additional privileges motivating the student to work harder. The youth program becomes the testing ground to ascertain each student’s level of commitment toward changing past behavior.

Personal/Emotional Development-
At the youth program students participate daily in tightly-integrated Emotional Growth and Personal Development Courses. These courses effectively utilize resources such as: professional audio and video tapes, selective reading material, and daily progress review sessions. During these sessions, students begin to learn what is and what isn’t working in their lives and how to make necessary changes.

Student Seminars-
Students participate in a series of seminars specifically designed for each of these youth programs. While the student is completing their seminars, the parents are invited to parent seminars. Then students and parents are invited to attend effective Parent/Child Workshops. These are designed to assist each family in rebuilding the family unit and become the foundation for the After-Care Program.

Misconceptions of these youth programs-
These youth programs often get confused with “tough love” options such as teen boot camps, juvenile boot camps, military schools, and wilderness programs. These specialty boarding schools and treatment centers are effective in helping troubled teens with behavior and conduct disorders. We do not promote youth boot camps, juvenile boot camps, military schools, or wilderness programs as they have not been proven to be as effective as these treatment centers and boarding schools.

Residential Treatment Centers

Treatment Center Basics

Treatment center for teens has both a general and a specific meaning. Learn more about the meaning of treatment center for teens and what kinds of services it can provide by reading this article.

The Two Meanings of Treatment Center for Teens

People use the term treatment center for teens in a loose and generic way for any larger staffed facility, exclusively for teens, that teens may go to in order to receive therapy or medical attention. In other words, it is simply a place where teens, and only teens, receive some sort of treatment.

In the term residential treatment center for teens, however, a more specific meaning is evoked. In the technical language that describes places in which teens may receive therapies, counseling, and treatment as residential clients, a residential treatment center is distinct from other types of facilities, like small residential programs, wilderness programs, outdoor therapeutic programs, emotional growth boarding schools, personal growth boarding schools, therapeutic boarding schools, and transitional living centers. As distinct from these, a residential treatment center for teens refers to a place with a higher degree of medical treatment available. While not a hospital, a residential treatment center will have staff responsible for managing medication and monitoring medical conditions. Unlike the other types of teen residential programs, residential treatment centers for teens are equipped to handle teens with more serious behavioral and psychological issues.

This does not mean that all treatment centers for teens are the same. Some focus on maintaining a small, intimate, family-style setting; others employ a wilderness program; some focus on eating disorders. All may be boys only, girls only, or coeducational, and coeducational facilities may work with boys and girls together, or have separate campuses. Treatment centers also differ in their locations/settings; though many tend to be rural and/or natural, some are located on a ranch, for example, while Tamarack Center, for example, while in a quiet setting, is minutes from both downtown Spokane and Spokane International Airport.

According to the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP), these programs are likely to have been accredited by The Joint Commission (TJC), formerly the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO).

Finding a Treatment Center for Teens

NATSAP and TJC are both good starting points for locating treatment centers for teens.

-At the NATSAP site, go to the search facility and in the drop-down menu for ‘Program Type,’ select ‘Residential Treatment Center.’ Enter any other criteria you would like to use to filter, such as an age range, a particular state, or choice of gender (Girls Only, Boys Only, or Coeducational), or leave all these as set to view the full list of over 180 NATSAP member organizations in this category.

-At the TJC site, go to the search tool and search by the name of the organization you want to check, ZIP code, state, or city to begin your search.


Residential Treatment Centers

Finding a Residential Treatment Center

The term “Residential Treatment Centers” covers a wide variety of places that people go to and stay at while receiving therapeutic treatment for some condition or issue. In the case of teens, they may also receive schooling. This article explains more.

What Is a Residential Treatment Center for Teens?

Residential Treatment Centers has two definitions. In one case, it is a very broad term and covers a variety of institutions at which teens may reside while receiving treatment. Those that treat teens often limit their population to that age group or-if they treat multiple age groups-separate the teens from younger and/or older clients. But the specific use of the term Residential Treatment Center is more specific.

Places where teens can go and reside while being treated include emotional growth and therapeutic boarding schools, wilderness programs and outdoor therapeutic programs, and small residential programs. Residential Treatment Centers is another type of treatment, a category along with the five just named. Each has its special focus. The mission of residential treatment centers is to treat teens with psychological and behavior issues that are serious, in a highly structured environment where both medication management and monitoring by health care professionals is available. Individual and group therapy are available, and recreation and education are provided as well. It is desirable that they be accredited by The Joint Commission (TJC), previously known as the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) or other, similar organizations.

Types of Residential Treatment Centers for Teens

Even though they have a similar purpose, Residential Treatment Centers for teens can have distinct admissions criteria and be guided by different therapeutic approaches. For example, Gray Wolf Ranch, a boys-only facility for young men aged 14 to 25, includes a day school program and provides transitional living for young men who are in the early stages of recovery from addiction. Its approach is based on the 12-Step principles and philosophy. Turn-About Ranch, on the other hand, is a coeducational program for teens 13 to 17 having issues with defiance, and enlists them in running a working ranch with an approach based on Christian values.

Pros and Cons of Residential Treatment Centers for Teens

The key to a successful residential treatment experience for a teen is a) only considering and choosing licensed and certified centers with an exemplary history to ensure that your teen is safe and well cared for and b) making a good match between the teen and the treatment facility and their approach. Teens with issues that the RTC is not equipped to deal may have less successful treatment experiences. Different treatment centers either welcome or prohibit family contact, and either approach may or may not be suitable. If there are triggers, temptations, or other issues in the teens environment, school, or home life, if these are not addressed along with the teen’s individual issues, even the best program may seem to be unsuccessful.

Finding Residential Treatment Centers for Teens

The Joint Commission offers a search for programs that it licenses and/or certifies here:

The National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs both includes a search function and also lists the accrediting and/or licensing agencies and the professional affiliations for each school, which gives other points to begin a search.


Residential Treatment Centers

Residential Treatment Centers

What is a Residential Treatment Center?

Residential treatment centers for troubled teens are similar to Specialty Boarding Schools, except they include individual and group therapy. Being residential means the teens reside at the center, typically 6 – 18 months. Most residential treatment centers include a full academic program so teens can continue their education while at the center, however; education is secondary to maintaining emotional and behavioral health. They differ from Specialty Boarding Schools as they have therapist on staff and don’t usually need to contract outside services to provide individual and group therapy.

Which teens are appropriate for Residential Treatment Centers?

Residential treatment centers are long term, typically 6 – 18 months. They are most appropriate for teens that need long term help for serious issues like Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Depression, Bipolar disorder, as well as some personality disorders. Candidates for a residential treatment center would include teens that have been abusing drugs or alcohol, getting into a lot of trouble at school, or have other emotional or behavioral problems. Teens who have been to other ‘quick fix’ type programs or treatment centers and have returned to the old behaviors need more long-term help and can benefit greatly from the environment of a residential treatment center. Teens with suicidal ideation or severe depression would also benefit from a residential treatment center.

Which teens are not appropriate for Residential Treatment Centers?

Residential treatment centers may not be appropriate for teens that have only moderate problems. Teens that only need a ‘quick fix’ may not need a long-term program. A teen that is getting into mild trouble at school or has just started talking negatively may not need a residential treatment center. If problems are just beginning a family should consider local help and solutions that are not as drastic as sending the teen to a center for several months. Talking with professional counselors in your area can help you determine what kinds of treatment options are best for the teen issues and problems your family is dealing with. Some teens do very well with outpatient programs that allow them to live at home and continue to attend their regular school.

Why Residential Treatment Centers are appropriate for Behavior Modification?

Because residential treatment centers are long term and include therapy, they give the teen enough time to make lasting changes. Residential treatment centers include therapy and are able to spend the time working with the teens to delve deep into the causes of the emotional and behavioral problems the trouble teen may have and to introduce them to a new environment that will, over time, adapt their thinking and the way they process their environment to help them make better decisions in the future. Because the poor behavior was often exacerbated by environmental factors that contributed to their problems, it may be required that their previous living conditions change once they leave the residential treatment center to prevent relapse. Some residential treatment centers are available for many issues including: abuse, drug and alcohol use, behavior issues etc.

How much does a Residential Treatment Center cost?

Teen Treatment Centers are more expensive than Specialty Boarding Schools because they include therapy. The costs range between $4,000 to $11,000 a month. Some expenses for the therapy may be paid by health insurance. Check with your health insurance company before assuming they will pay for any of the costs of a residential treatment center.

It is important to note that residential treatment centers are not always drug treatment centers – you should look into drug rehab facilities if you are looking for drug treatment.

What to ask before choosing a Residential Treatment Center

Because not all treatment centers are created equal, it is important to do a lot of research and ask a lot of questions before selecting a program for your teen. The following is a general list and it is not mean to be fully inclusive but will give you an idea of the type of questions to ask and research.

  • Is the center licensed by the state and what specifically is the center licensed for: metal/behavioral health, rehabilitation, education, etc.?
  • What academic curriculum is available, if any? How much priority is place on education? Do all participants participate in an educational program?
  • Does the residential treatment center have accreditation? There are several independent, non-profit organizations that provide accreditation for these programs and you can check with them to find out more about a specific centers accreditation: Joint Commission (JACHO), Council on Accreditation (COA), and Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).
  • What credentials do your directors and staff have? Ask about degrees, experience, endorsements, and references.
  •  How much experience does the staff have? Have they worked at other residential treatment centers? What type of issues are they trained to deal with? Do they have CPR and other emergency training?
  • What type of pre-assessment screening is done? How familiar do you become with individuals and their problems before accepting them into the program?
  • Does each person have an individualized program and how often is the program assessed?
  • How is discipline handled? What happens in case of an emergency?
  • How often can you communicate with your teen? How is success defined/determined? Is there any kind of refund policy if the program is not completed and/or is unsuccessful?

If you have specific concerns for your teen, be sure and find out ahead of time how the center will handle the situation or issues you are wondering about. Check  with the US Government Accountability Office to see if any complaints have been filed with the center and what the outcome was.