Therapeutic Boarding Schools

Therapeutic boarding schools integrate academic development with clinical treatment, structure, and supervision to meet the needs of the whole child, who generally attends for 1 - 2 years. Keep reading for an overview of therapeutic boarding schools.

Therapeutic Boarding School Basics

In order to merit your consideration, therapeutic boarding schools should be licensed and accredited, as required by the state it is in, for it’s clinical practice, staff, and educational program. You should also seek a staff who has been at the school with little turnover, a clear and sensible program mission and philosophy, and a strong record of success in graduating students with low recidivism rates.

What Distinguishes Different Quality Therapeutic Boarding Schools?

While the qualities mentioned above should be found in any therapeutic boarding school, there are other factors that should be considered but differ from school to school in legitimate ways. Here are some areas to think about:

• Age Range: Some schools focus on treating teens exclusively, while others focus on the cusp of adolescence, still others on young adults, and some accept preadolescent children. In addition to seeing that your child’s age is included, also consider the age range.

• Gender: Coeducational therapeutic boarding schools may actually have either a mixed campus or completely separate campuses. In addition, there are boys only and girls only schools. This gives a range of choices in finding the most appropriate environment for your child.

• School Description: While some therapeutic boarding schools refer to themselves with exactly that description, others use terms like emotional growth boarding school, specialized boarding school, or personal growth boarding school. Be on the lookout for any of these that fit your child’s needs.

An additional factor to check is the academic curriculum. While some therapeutic boarding schools offer a college preparatory curriculum, on the assumption that their clients are good students with non-academic issues, others may be more appropriate for average students. Discovery Academy even allows students to take courses through two nearby universities. It’s a good idea to find out about transferring credits, preparation for college entrance (e.g., exams, applications), athletic programs, and any other areas that currently are handled by your child’s school.

• Range of Issues Treated: Therapeutic boarding schools may focus on a single issue, such as eating disorders, or a broader range of issues including such learning disabilities, behavioral issues, poor academic performance, problematic family relationships, substance abuse and addiction, mood disorders, truancy, poor choices, etc. Schools may have limitations on the students they will accept, and may not be prepared to treat, for example, students with a history of violence and students who are suicidal.

• Philosophy: Program philosophies vary greatly and include characterizations as Christian, 12-Step, “back to basics,” naturopathic, family-style, etc.

How To Find Therapeutic Boarding Schools

Besides checking with healthcare professionals, social workers, and your child’s guidance counselor, a search on the website of the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs can be helpful. Their members are required to be licensed and accredited, and these credentials are listed.


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