Our impressions of therapeutic boarding schools are formed at a young age, often through the media, so you probably have an idea of what you think one is like. You might have seen “Dead Poets Society” or read “The Catcher in the Rye” or heard or seen other opinions about these school without any personal experience. However, these portrayals differ greatly from those in the real world. In those scenarios, parents responded to poor behavior by using threats of boarding school, and they may have followed through accordingly. They shipped their boy off to school in September, saw him at Christmas for a couple of weeks and welcomed him home in June. In the meantime, school officials handled any problems or discipline matters.
Breaking Old Stereotypes
However, the reality today differs greatly from that long-standing view. Most teen boys go to a therapeutic boarding school willingly, and in this day and age of electronic connections, they are in regular contact with their parents via texts, e-mail and social media. Some schools have even traded jackets embellished with emblems for more casual clothes. Students might room with an international student as competitive admissions make waiting lists a reality at some facilities. Quiet chapels with students perfectly lined up, cold showers and formal meals with little talking have been replaced with a more relaxed atmosphere. An additional important component of boarding school, one that attracts many parents, is the therapy these schools offer.
A New Model of Boarding School
These boarding schools, sometimes called emotional growth schools, offer the benefit of counseling and therapy for troubled teens. Students can range in age from pre-teens through high school, and facilities have the capability of addressing issues via a holistic approach. In addition to academics and group interaction, one of the most important goals for the school is therapy to deal with any problem behaviors. The values, mission statement and philosophy of each school will differ, so you will need to find one that meshes with your personal views and one that is best for your child.
Clinical Therapeutic Boarding Schools
A clinical therapeutic boarding school focuses on academics along with a medical model for serious co-occurring conditions, such as eating disorders, clinical depression, reactive attachment disorder, eating disorders, bipolar disorders, oppositional defiant disorder and other similar challenges. These facilities usually have medical professionals, including psychiatrists, on staff.
Your son might struggle with a serious learning disorder, and you haven’t been satisfied with his progress in a traditional classroom setting. Some therapeutic boarding schools offer programs tailor-made for teens struggling with autism, dyslexia, Aspergers and other learning disorders. The school hires special education teachers, and administration has a strong background in the specific needs of these children.
However, some schools do not dispense medications, so you will need to assess your child’s situation at home with your team of medical and social professionals. The therapeutic boarding school wants your child to succeed and will offer suggestions and work with you in order to bring about positive results.
Additional Features of a Therapeutic Boarding School
A checklist of features to watch out for might help you decide which therapeutic boarding school is best for you.
Look for the following features:
- Family oriented
- Parental involvement
- Type of therapy
- The ability to follow an IEP
- The number of staff and staff-student ratio
- The qualifications of the staff
- The ability to administer medications
- The academic program
- Any complaints to the medical board or to other oversight groups and
- Their willingness to work with independent professionals, such as an educational consultant or your family physician.
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