As the parent of a troubled teen, you need to find a solution that will work for your child. Plenty of teenagers respond well to interventions at home and see great success. They learn strategies to overcome their troubles and function well in school and at home. However, that’s not the case for all troubled teens.
Teens who have mental health problems or addictions issues often need more help than they can get at home. Residential treatment provides a more encompassing therapeutic approach than only attending counseling sessions at home. It can be tough to know when your teen needs a therapeutic boarding school, but you can watch for signs.
If you start thinking that your teen could benefit from residential treatment, you need to know what to expect from a therapeutic boarding school. Throughout the past few decades, several boarding schools have allowed irresponsible or dangerous behavior to occur at their schools. When looking into boarding schools, you need to choose a reputable school that follows safe, student-focused protocols. Selecting a quality boarding makes all the difference.
What to expect of a therapeutic boarding school
If your teenager attends a quality therapeutic boarding school, they will live in a supportive environment designed to address their issues and help them grow into a successful adult.
As you might expect from the name, students at a therapeutic boarding school will attend therapy sessions run by licensed professional therapists. Depending on the school, students can receive a combination of individual, group, and family therapy sessions. These therapy sessions address the student’s individual needs and teach them how to interact with others and build healthy relationships.
Therapy sessions can be extremely helpful in addressing issues like:
- Substance use/abuse
- Suicidal thoughts or attempts
- Anger issues
- Difficult connecting with others
- Chronic lying or theft
- Manipulative behavior
- Defiant behavior
- Overcoming trauma
Students at therapeutic boarding schools attend academic courses to keep up with their schoolwork. If your teen has been struggling in school and flunking classes, attending a residential school can help them get back on track to graduate.
Students must complete their schoolwork, and they can’t just cut class as they can at traditional schools. Teachers can provide accommodations for students with learning disabilities and even teach them strategies for studying that they can use in the future.
Students also work with academic counselors to talk through post-graduation options. The counselors can help students prep for taking tests like the ACT or SAT, and they can help students prepare for college or trade school applications. The academic counselors talk through the best options that will prepare them for a meaningful, well-paying career after high school.
Life skills training
Part of life at a therapeutic boarding school includes attending life skills training classes. Quality residential schools provide a holistic approach to education. By the time students leave, they should have learned practical ways to address their mental health issues, and they should have learned new life skills that they can apply at home.
Life skills training can include things like:
- Learning to cook meals
- Learning how to effectively communicate with peers and adults
- Learning time management skills
- Learning to follow through with commitments
- Attending carpentry classes
- Attending money management classes
- Attending health management classes
- Practicing leadership skills
- Practicing good hygiene
- Cleaning up after themselves
- Creating a resume
From the time they wake up until they go to bed at night, students follow a schedule designed to help them build character and learn practical life skills. Teachers and staff keep students on track and help them learn from their day-to-day experiences.
Many residential boarding schools include outdoor expeditions as an element of their program. Students get to separate themselves from life as usual and spend time in nature. The expeditions vary from region to region, but they typically include hiking, camping, climbing, or rafting.
During outdoor expeditions, students learn to face challenges together and look out for one another. Group travel helps students learn to care for the group as a whole while also pulling their weight. They work hard to complete the activities, and they are rewarded with an experience unlike any other.
Most therapeutic boarding schools implement a format that allows students to gain increased freedom and earn increased responsibility. So, students initially aren’t given a ton of freedom and choice in their daily schedule. They need to learn the school’s basic rules and adjust to the schedule. Staff members expect that new students will have an adjustment period while everything is new, so they try not to overload them.
As students get used to the systems and structures within the school, they get more responsibility and more freedom. Students get more say in their schedule and choose more activities that appeal to them. This also means that students are expected to follow through with their responsibilities without as many reminders from staff. They need to start owning their responsibility and helping newer students understand how it all works.
By the time students finish the program and return home, they should have learned new strategies to manage their time and follow through with their responsibilities. They can apply these new skills to life at home and follow through with their responsibilities at school.
What to expect of residential school leadership
The leadership team and all staff members at a reputable therapeutic boarding school should be professional and maintain appropriate certifications. All staff members should be qualified to work with their student population and follow proven best practices.
Before choosing a residential boarding school for your teen, find out more about the school’s requirements for staff certifications and training. All therapists should be licensed according to their state’s requirements and maintain their credentials.
Also, talk to the school about their disciplinary methods. They should describe their disciplinary process in detail without being vague or indirect. All disciplinary methods should be above-board and reasonable for the behavior.
Finding the right therapeutic boarding school for your teen is often an in-depth process. You want to look at a few different schools to find out which one will be the best fit, but it can be tough to know where to start.
At Help Your Teen Now, we have helped countless families find the right boarding school for their teens. Call us at 800-901-7347 to talk to someone about more options for your teen.
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