The adolescent years have a reputation as some of the toughest times for girls and their parents. While all teenagers experience challenges as they transition into adulthood, some of them will encounter issues that warrant professional help in a structured and safe environment. If concern about your teenage daughter becomes a family crisis, if her behavior negatively impacts the entire family or if you see her life spinning out of control, you should consider the benefits of sending her to a therapeutic boarding school. These specialized schools offer treatment programs that provide an academic curriculum along with focused and intensive therapy.
Definition of a Therapeutic Boarding School
A therapeutic boarding school is a private residential treatment – an out-of-home placement that uses a combination of therapy and education to assist students who are experiencing trouble at home and school. While teen girls might struggle with disobedience, dishonesty and disrespect at home, a new environment helps create a positive, happy child. Removing your teenager from her usual surroundings and placing her in a different environment helps her clear her head and positively approach issues. These schools are usually staffed with professionals who typically have advanced or undergraduate degrees in psychology, social work or related studies. Your daughter will receive required counseling sessions and structured activity in a nurturing and loving environment with an average length of treatment of 12-18 months.
Benefits of a Therapeutic Boarding School
Therapeutic boarding schools challenge their students daily in their relationships and respect for others by providing a caring and supportive environment that encourages self-control, self-confidence and individuality. Girls learn new skills, which will boost their self-esteem. Participation in physical activity will increase their motivation and improve their overall mental health. When your daughter experiences small successes, she will naturally become motivated to achieve greater success. In turn, this will help her to make positive decisions and change her old patterns that prevented favorable growth.
Each student will receive a personalized academic and behavioral approach that fits their needs. Teens who previously struggled with substance or other forms of abuse will learn appropriate coping skills and develop new, positive habits. Comprehensive therapy will help your daughter with her problematic behaviors while offering emotional and psychological support. These facilities provide compassionate and firm support that leads to real change and success.
Therapeutic boarding schools view the healing process as part of the education with change starting from the inside. When your daughter is placed in an environment with 24-hour supervision and non-parental authority figures, she has the opportunity to mature. With the right tools, she will begin to heal and overcome her challenges. The school environment and the caring staff will encourage her to discover new talents, set goals and build positive relationships as she moves forward with her education. Therapeutic boarding schools have experienced a wave of enthusiasm for their programs over the past decade. The Journal of Therapeutic Schools and Programs provides additional information on the positive impact and effectiveness of therapeutic boarding schools.
Reasons to Send My Daughter to a Therapeutic Boarding School
Although it is not easy to make the decision to send your daughter away, remember that it is for her benefit. When you have exhausted school services and local options, she might benefit from an alternative living situation. Therapeutic boarding schools offer support along with staff who are available 24 hours a day. Remember that effective care requires taking responsibility, not placing blame on yourself or your child. When you see your teenager struggling and when traditional schooling methods aren’t working, keep in mind that therapeutic boarding schools have a track record of helping troubled teens with all kinds of challenges. If you have never considered these facilities as viable options for addressing your daughter’s problems, you can begin to gather information to help her on the road to recovery.
If your daughter is having social or emotional issues, removing her from her current situation can help to provide a new perspective. Healing happens faster in a positive environment. Staff members at therapeutic boarding schools help your child overcome her challenges with passion and concern. Your teen will receive needed assistance with academics so that she can focus on school, bringing her up to her grade level. She will learn life skills and goal setting to prepare her for life after high school. Check with your school district and insurance company to see if they cover this type of treatment.
What to Look for in a Therapeutic Boarding School
Every therapeutic boarding school offers a different philosophy and specific services at their program. For this reason, you will need to find one whose approach fits your daughter’s needs.Choosing the right program is the first step in getting her back on track. The Federal Trade Commission recommends that you take the following steps when looking for a facility:
- Make sure to research schools carefully before you select one. While you can look at schools online, nothing replaces an in-person visit.
- Select one that has a licensed, accredited program. Request proof for accreditation.
- Look for degreed staff and verify their credentials.
- Check with the school board to see if credits earned will transfer to her high school.
- Find a school where the counselors have longevity and there is a low turnover rate for staff.
- Check with your state to make sure that accreditation, licensing and credentials are current.
- Obtain all policies and promises in writing.
- Ask if the program can provide you with independent outcome statistics. Independent outcome research is an indicator that the program is actively engaged in continuous program improvement initiatives.
- Do some research to see if they have any complaints filed against them.
Dr. Heather M. Tracy of Jones International University has further researched and reported on the factors that lead to positive student outcomes in these facilities. The National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs provides information on therapeutic boarding schools along with relevant articles and insight on how you can help your struggling teen.