Coming to terms with a teenager sinking ever deeper into self-destructive behavior and despair can be difficult for both the struggling teen and the parents. In truth, inaction or denial is by far the more painful path. This is why for many parents, the decision to bring their teen — still a child after all! – into the protective environment of a boarding school designed to provide lasting help and healing for struggling teenagers, can be such a positive step.
Placing your teen in a therapeutic boarding school is actually not as “radical” as it may seem – especially if it is equipped to provide effective therapy and a stabilizing environment, while at the same time providing opportunities to grow and excel academically.
Key Benefits of the Therapeutic Boarding School Option
• It’s voluntary.Therapeutic boarding schools are not the horror-show asylums for psychotics seen in movies. They address teen dysfunction in a humane and integrated fashion – through a combination of clinical treatment and counseling.
• These schools offer a haven. The improvement that can come simply by temporarily shifting your teen to a safe, new environment – one that’s specifically designed for healing and building self-esteem – is amazing!
• Your teen will get the clinical help he or she needs. Specialist professionals are available 24/7 to assist with any and all issues.
• Your child will get much-needed emotional support. By definition, therapeutic schools are a place of understanding and empathy. They are designed to let your teen share his or her story privately with a counselor or, if preferred, with peers.
• These schools offer a place not only to heal, but also to explore identity. In temporarily being apart from family and home community, teens can begin to envision their role in a world of diverse options.
The therapeutic boarding school option will represent a “door-opener” for the teenager who perhaps has been facing a world closed off – a world full of walls and of empty corridors seemingly leading nowhere.
Finding the Right Therapeutic Boarding School for Your Teen
Finding the right therapeutic boarding school for your need not be difficult – not if you hone in right from the start on some basics:
• Does the school provide a structured and secure environment, yet one that is not overly restrictive?
• Is it accredited by a well-known and respected entity, such as the Northwest Accreditation Commission (NWAC)?And the school’s clinicians certified by the major national mental health institutes?
• Does the school offer an“integrated approach” –clinical and therapeutic services as well as strong athletic and academic programs?
• Will the facilities, curricula and professional personnel seem “welcoming” to your teen? Are the residential and food services well above adequate?
• Is there responsibly managed access to the natural environment?
• Are tuition payment services and assistance with insurance coverage provided?
• Does the school offer strong transition and aftercare programs?
• Does the school’s programs teach self-sufficiency as well as confidence and empathy toward peers?
• Are school programs and facilities conducive to providing personal attention? Is there an environment, moreover, where thoughtful and caring interaction can flourish?
• Finally, take a good look at the school policy towards instances of entrenched, maladaptive behavior. While discipline and behavioral accountability are crucial elements of any therapeutic boarding school program’s success, these elements must be matched with a caring and humane approach to remediation.