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Boarding School Basics

Boarding schools for troubled teens have a dual mission: to educate teens while assisting them with whatever’s troubling them through counseling, therapy, and other means. This article explains more about therapeutic boarding schools.

Basics of Boarding Schools for Troubled Teens

Help for Troubled Teens: 888-592-1020

Boarding schools for troubled teens may go by several names: emotional growth boarding schools, therapeutic boarding schools, or personal development boarding schools, for example. Teens who attend these schools receive treatment integrated with education, so the treatment program, education program, healthcare staff, and educators should all be licensed and/or accredited by state, regional, or national and reputable organizations. In some cases, the boarding school may be authorized to grant a high school diploma.

Boarding schools for troubled teens may be coeducational, all-boys, or all-girls. Some coeducational boarding schools have separate campuses for boys and girls. All such boarding schools have very specific designations for the ages they treat. Some treat preadolescents, as well as adolescents; some treat only a specific subsection of teenagers (e.g., 14 to 18); some have a separate young adult program that accepts young people into their twenties; and some require a specific age upon admission/enrollment.

Teens enrolled in one of these facilities may be treated to a wide variety of problems. These include poor school performance, learning disabilities, issues with social relationships, family problems, physical disabilities, and emotional and behavioral issues. Various boarding schools for troubled teens practice different treatment protocols based on different philosophies. Treatment at a boarding school for troubled teens may last from one to two years.

Because different program philosophies and approaches may be better suited to different individuals and because the treatment is often of such long duration, it is essential to the outcome that a good match be made between the teen and the boarding school. The programs make headway provide different guidelines for living (12-Step, Christian, secular community responsibility) and involve teens in widely different activities while striving to meet their goals. Some have an extensive array of sports and intramural opportunities, while some claim to have elite-level academic programs.

For example, New Leaf Academy of Oregon, a girls-only program for girls who must be 10 through 14 when they enroll, involves a 4-H connection and engages each of the girls in caring for a bunny and showing it at the local county fair. The In Balance Ranch Academy, on the other hand, offers 12-Step based therapy to boys 13 to 17.5 years in a ranch setting where a college preparatory curriculum is combined with equine-assisted therapy, a wilderness program, experiential working, and job training. Wellspring Academy, a specialty coeducational boarding academy for teens aged 13 to 18 who struggle with weight issues, uses diet and activity management and cognitive and to help students with weight loss while also providing an accelerated academic program. Clearly these programs are not interchangeable and their suitability for a particular child must be considered.

Sources

natsap.org/program_definitions.asp
natsap.org/program_details.asp?id=125
natsap.org/program_details.asp?id=60
natsap.org/program_details.asp?id=229