Five Pillars Of Change

At Turning Winds we believe our patients’ success is most likely achieved through a combination of therapeutic and educational approaches that together provide the best outcomes possible for each child that we work with. These therapeutic approaches, many unique to our hybrid residential treatment program, include character and leadership development, health & wellness, experiential education, evidence-based clinical treatment, and academic engagement. Together, these areas of focus constitute the Five Pillars of strength that assist in promoting therapeutic change at Turning Winds.

In our unique school environment, character is crucial. We believe that character acts as a vital anchor in the sea of our lives. It helps the troubled teens we serve grow to be consistent and to stand strong against the pressures they face each day. We model strength based self-management through our character education curriculum allowing the culture in our school to help facilitate positive change. Learning to manage self through character education brings the stability teens need for long-term success.

Our observations show that teens who embrace character as a foundational part of their lives experience reduced intensity and frequency of maladaptive behaviors, episodes of acting out, impulsive actions, destructive tendencies, as well as a reduction of inappropriate peer relationships. In addition to our Character Education Curriculum, each teen attending our school also will learn and practice social skills including conflict resolution techniques, treating themselves and others with respect, and appropriate social interaction. Teens in our therapeutic school learn decision-making skills by working to set and attain goals, relying on their own knowledge and skills along with the knowledge and skills of others to address initiatives and projects, and participating in daily therapeutic group sessions dealing with issue resolution.

Teens increase personal understanding by taking accountability for personal actions, planning and working toward personal goals, and recognizing personal successes. Students will ultimately gain insight into their previous behaviors and actions by nurturing a greater understanding of the impact of their actions. An important component in our character education is service. While attending, each teen will engage in the experience of participating in service activities where they will have the opportunity to give back to the community.

Many parents who are researching boarding schools often ask themselves questions about diet and exercise. We offer a different approach when it comes to health and wellness. We place a high priority on health and wellness and fitness. This focus has consistently produced conclusive outcomes in our clients’ self-worth, energy, drive, and mental and psychological health.

Through the use of a nutritionist and our medical staff our students receive a healthy diet based on their individual needs. Our students receive routine health evaluations and have the opportunity to voice any concerns they may have to our medical staff in a timely manner. It is our philosophy that as Turning Winds students become physically healthy they are able to invest more of themselves emotionally, therefore engaging fully in the therapeutic process. Health and wellness and fitness are important tools we use to help facilitate change at our therapeutic school with the teens we work with.

Our teens not only learn about the importance of nutrition and exercise as key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, they also live it. The Turning Winds campus lends itself to a plethora of fitness and adventure education activities. Our students engage routinely in team sports, individualized fitness programs, and outdoor experiential education as part of our school curriculum. These activities may include: volleyball, basketball, softball, swimming, weight training, aerobic exercises, mountain biking, yoga and backpacking.

If you are familiar with therapeutic boarding schools you may already know that many of them do not utilize the outdoors as much as they should in the therapeutic process. In fact, many similar schools are located in cities or areas where the outdoors is not very accessible. Nature’s playground is our backdoor. Through utilizing outdoor recreation in our school our teens experience the therapeutic effect of the great outdoors in a way that few will ever experience.

Turning Winds uses the outdoors to combine adventure therapy, experiential education and psycho-educational therapy. Experiential learning is based on the belief that lasting change occurs when people are placed outside familiar situations of comfort and immersed in new and unique circumstances. In this way, students are participants rather than spectators and learn to appreciate the power of the great outdoors on our beautiful school campus.

The vehicle we rely on to connect our students with the outdoors and the therapeutic experience of nature is our TREC (Turning Winds Recreation and Education Connection) program. TREC has helped hundreds of troubled teens excel through the boarding school experience. Through TREC our students are able to experience first-hand activities such as: Backcountry hiking, backpacking, mountain bike riding, white water rafting, fishing, snowshoeing, skiing/snowboarding, cross country skiing, and many other activities. Each activity is a therapeutic tool we use to teach important life-lessons such as endurance, team work, mental strength, and a list of others.

Learning activities are real and meaningful in terms of natural consequences; reflection and problem-solving are vehicles for intellectual and emotional stimulation, and students are accountable for their own behaviors and insights. Outdoor education maximizes the experience for the teen boys and girls we serve. Maintaining a good balance between work and recreation is a top goal at the Turning Winds therapeutic school.

Therapeutic boarding schools for troubled teens utilize therapy as a key part of change for teens who receive treatment. Turning Winds embraces a clinically driven, multi-disciplinary and individualized therapeutic approach. Our licensed professional clinicians assess each teen and participate with the student and her or his family to identify problem areas and then to develop individualized goals and objectives designed to guide the change and personal growth process.

This therapeutic process is enhanced by engaging weekly in individualized therapy with a licensed clinician who is focused on the teen’s emotional growth and helping him or her achieve his or her clinical goals. We also utilize group therapy and psycho-educational group activities as an integral part of the therapeutic process. Group therapy sessions are facilitated by professional staff and are designed to address the primary emotional and social issues our teen boys and girls routinely face. These group therapy sessions are also used to address and facilitate clinical issues that have manifested during the therapeutic program process.

We also use group therapy to address and facilitate addiction and recovery groups for those teens who may have substance abuse issues. Good boarding schools use group therapy and programmatic therapeutic experiences to provide the crutch our students need in order to stand on their own two feet again and to start making decisions that will bring them success and happiness long after attending Turning Winds’s life-changing program. The Turning Winds psycho-education curriculum is facilitated by our highly trained resident advisers. The curriculum addresses a variety of needs that a typical teen encounters as they transition from adolescence to adulthood. Curriculum subjects in psycho-education include independent living, social skills, substance abuse awareness, health, career development, boundaries, active listening and communication skills.

Turning Winds is always incorporating new psycho-educational group topics into our curriculum based on specific individual needs and requests as well as industry research. By encouraging autonomy, practicing active listening, and conveying respect we demonstrate powerful and healthy relationship skills. Therefore, as students observe and evaluate our staff, they will be led to incorporate these traits into their own being. Through melding the many different therapeutic approaches applicable to our teen population we have raised the bar for therapeutic boarding schools for troubled teens.

Turning Winds offers a unique academic experience for the each teen we work with. Students who are enrolled with us experience a first-class individualized academic experience. Our research shows that while here our students earn an average GPA of 3.5, and in a 12 month time period our average student completes about 2 years of school while experiencing an increase in GPA of almost a full letter grade versus what their GPA was before coming to our world-class Montana boarding school.

Our education process works! Our highly trained, board certified teachers assess the academic needs of each teen during the admission process, taking in account previous transcripts, learning disabilities, strengths, interests and any specific needs or accommodations as outlined in a student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP), when present. Under the direction of our professional education staff, our individualized academic program guides each student to academic success by strengthening the areas of academic weakness and capitalizing on the existing strengths of the student.

As teachers work with each student, they develop individualized academic goals based on each student’s learning style, providing each student the best opportunity to experience academic success. Although many of our students come discouraged with their past educational experience, once here each student learns to excel academically because of our time tested one-on-one approach. In addition, our professional teachers are diligent about college prep and understand it is a topmost priority for our students who will graduate and receive their diploma from Turning Winds. Truly, academic success is an integral part of the experience for each of our teen boys and girls.


Learn how The Turning Winds model of Five Pillars of Change will transform your teen’s life. Turning Winds is a legacy residential treatment program for teenagers struggling with mental health, substance abuse, and learning disabilities located in Yaak, Montana. We have been a leader among adolescent programs throughout the United States for over 20 years now. Learn more on how we can facilitate change in your teen’s life by calling 800-845-1380 or Contact Us Now.

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