What is a Therapeutic Boarding School?

What is a Therapeutic Boarding School?

Authored by Pin Ng PhD

Edited by Hugh Soames

Reviewed by Michael Por, MD

Therapeutic Boarding School


Is it the new destination for trouble teens?

Most modern traditional schools are unable to meet the needs of 100% of their students. Teenagers have always been challenged by issues in their lives and over the last few decades there has been a greater emphasis on helping identify and treat teenage mental health and addiction. Previously the idea of removing a troubled student and placing them in a specialized school was thought to be far fetched and prohibitively expensive.1https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2043610619900514 Now, with traditional schools unable to cope with these students more than ever, the concept of therapeutic boarding school is being used more often, enabling teenagers to experience high quality education with significant therapeutic element.

What is a therapeutic boarding school?

Therapeutic boarding schools are a new type of alternative education. They specialize in the education of teens and young adults that have difficulty in a traditional school setting. Simply put, a therapeutic boarding school help teens that experience issues with their emotions and behaviors. The issues these students often suffer from cognitive learning difficulties that traditional schools just cannot cope with or overcome. Therapeutic boarding schools not only provide students with classes to learn and build on their education, but they offer psychological counseling sessions. Teachers and staff at therapeutic schools are often more involved with the students enrolled in the courses. The deeper level of involvement enables students to be rehabilitated emotionally, mentally, and physically.

Students that attend a therapeutic boarding school experience intensive programs in which they live on campus. Therapeutic boarding schools run year-round allowing students that suffer from emotional and behavioral issues to be on campus and in lessons 12 months out of the year. The year-round format allows students to be in a routine that helps rehabilitation thanks to its strong structure. Therapeutic Boarding Schools are also referred to and searched on Google as the abbreviation TBS.

Why do students attend therapeutic boarding school?

There are a few reasons as to why a teenager will be sent to a therapeutic boarding school. Parents often decide to send their children to a therapeutic boarding school due to a combination of reasons including social transgressions and self-destructive behavioral problems.

The residential programs offered by therapeutic boarding schools provide students struggling with drugs and alcohol the chance to separate themselves from environments that triggers their substance misuse. Boarding schools can be perfect drug-free environments with positive influences that completely change an individual’s habits and perspectives.

Some students that attend the schools possess issues such as depression, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, ADHD or ADD, or learning disabilities. Healthy environments and boundaries provided by therapeutic school can have a life-changing effect on students. All of the issues experienced by students can result in poor school grades and experiences. However, therapeutic boarding school can enable students to deal with and recover from the problems they face.

What programs are offered at therapeutic boarding school?

Students will attend academic classes and a full program will be at their disposal to learn. These programs reflect many of the traditional school education programs. However, they are adapted and designed to provide an environment safe for students to learn.

In addition to the education programs, students attend psychological counseling. Sessions are both group and individual and teach coping mechanisms to students. Mental health professionals oversee much of what is done at a therapeutic boarding school and help shape the work that is done by educators. Residential boarding schools offer therapy sessions so students can be rehabilitated. As part of the rehabilitation process, some schools provide students the chance to take arts and writing classes as well as equine assisted therapy.

Most students remain in therapeutic boarding school programs for around one year. The structured nature of the programs is ideal for students to get the organization they need. The ultimate aim of a teenage rehab is long term recovery and remission into adulthood.

Is a therapeutic boarding school good academically?

One of the major worries that parents have when sending their child to a therapeutic boarding school is over the academic environment. Parents shouldn’t worry about the academic side at the boarding schools. Each school offers programs that allow and enable a student to reach their highest educational potential possible.

Unfortunately, mainstream education has let down many of the students that attend therapeutic schools. Thanks to possessing better academic strategies to cope with troubled students, therapeutic schools have high success rates of bringing out the best academically in a student. Students that complete the residential program can then return to traditional schooling. Many therapeutic programs will help a student well after they have reintegrated into life.2https://www.natsap.org/Public/About_Natsap/NATSAP_Principles_of_Good_Practice.aspx

Most therapeutic boarding schools in the United States are privately owned and funded. The curriculum on offer can vary from school to school with the main focus being on recovery.

Cost of a therapeutic boarding school residential program

Due to being a residential program, therapeutic boarding school prices range somewhere between $30,000 and $100,000 per year which is around the same level as the more established private educational institutions in Europe, the USA and China. Being able to provide troubled teens with educational opportunities, emotional, behavioral, and psychological help has made therapeutic boarding schools a popular choice for parents needing alternative solutions to difficult problems.

Students gain emotional growth and get help with behavioral problems from professionals in the mental health sector and parents can find a variety of schools that may fit their child’s needs.3https://www.researchgate.net/publication/242750551_The_evidence_base_for_private_therapeutic_schools_residential_programs_and_wilderness_therapy_programs

Best Therapeutic Boarding School

There are a large number of specialized Therapeutic Boarding Schools and Teenage Rehab facilities in the World, with the best facilities according to https://teenage.rehab being:

Newport Academy

Yes We Can Youth Clinics

Claudia Black @ The Meadows

Visions Teen Treatment

Paradigm Teenage Rehab

Teen Treatment in Malibu

In the opinion of our medical reviewer and addictions specialist, parents should look for a Therapeutic Boarding Schools set up to primarily as an educational and therapeutic environment. Many drug and alcohol rehabs have included Young Adult Therapeutic Boarding Schools programs, although this practice is becoming increasingly viewed as a little predatory.


References: Therapeutic Boarding School

  1. Baber, KM, Rainer, A (2010) Shortridge academy: Positive youth development in action within a therapeutic community. Advances in Child Development and Behavior 41: 309348.
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  2. Behar, L, Friedman, R, Pinto, A, et al. (2007) Protecting youth placed in unlicensed, unregulated residential ‘treatment’ facilities. Family Court Review 45(3): 399413.
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  3. Behrens, Ellen & Santa, John & Gass, Michael. (2010). The evidence base for private therapeutic schools, residential programs, and wilderness therapy programs.
  4. Chatfield, M (2013) Proposed legislation to regulate teen programs is unlikely to prevent abuse. In: Bartos, J (ed.) Teen Residential Treatment Programs. Detroit, MI: Greenhaven Press, pp. 4347.
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  5. Esposito, L, Perez, FM (2014) Neoliberalism and the commodification of mental health. Humanity & Society 38(4): 414442.
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  6. Friedman, RM, Pinto, A, Behar, L, et al. (2006) Unlicensed residential programs: The next challenge in protecting youth. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 76(3): 295303.
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  7. Scrutton, AP (2017) Epistemic injustice and mental illness. In: Kidd, IJ, Medina, J (eds) The Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Injustice. London: Routledge, pp. 347355.
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  8. US Government Accountability Office (2008) Residential Facilities: State and Federal Oversight Gaps May Increase Risk to Youth Well-Being. Washington, DC: US House of Representatives.
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  9. Whitehead, K, Keshet, M, Lombrowski, B, et al. (2007) Definition and accountability: A youth perspective. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 77(3): 348349.
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Therapeutic Boarding School
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Therapeutic Boarding School
Parents should look for a Therapeutic Boarding School set up to primarily as an educational and therapeutic environment. Many rehabs have included Young Adult TBS programs, although this practice is becoming increasingly viewed as a little predatory.
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