How to Afford Therapeutic Schools for Troubled Teens

You need help with your troubled teenager, you have jumped online to search for places to send troubled teens and realize most of them do not list their tuition. How much do therapeutic boarding schools cost and can you afford them?

This can be frustrating to parents, especially when they are at your wits end and desperately seeking help. Many are dealing with an out-of-control teenager that is creating havoc in their home.


Once you realize you need a therapeutic boarding school and start your search, one of the top 3 steps in the process is money and financing.

Starting your search within your budget is priority — as you stumble on programs that seem like the perfect match for your child, you realize most do not list tuition or fees.

Getting help for adolescent mental health for behavioral issues can be costly, however there are options to offset some of the fees such as medical insurance.

Many parents initially have the sticker-shock and feel hopeless. It can seem overwhelming when you are in crisis with your troubled teenager.

The average cost of therapeutic boarding schools will start at about $8000 a month and up. The duration your child is there, depends on your teen, but the average stay is 6-9-12 months. As we share with parents — it didn’t take 4-6 weeks for your teen’s behavior to get to where it is at, it won’t take a short-term program to turn it around. You will need at least 6 months to change behavior for long-lasting results.

If you find programs/schools that cost a lot less in tuition (under $5000), you may want to double check the credentials of the staff – such as the therapists and teachers.

Some parents believe that a short-term wilderness program will fix their teen since they aren’t that bad — keep in mind, unless this behavior just started, a short-term program will likely give you short-term results. Most wilderness programs don’t list their costs which typically start at $500 a day up to $800 daily and usually doesn’t include the equipment you have to purchase.

Average stay for wilderness therapy is about 6-9 weeks. Most will then suggest you move on to a therapeutic boarding school.  The question is, why don’t you simply start at the therapeutic boarding school or residential treatment center?

Why are therapeutic boarding schools so expensive?

Residential treatment in general for adolescents can be costly for a variety of reasons.

Inside a therapeutic boarding school/residential treatment program:


Quality care (safe and positive environment), credentialed staff
Education, accredited academics
Enrichment programs, extra-curriculum designed to encourage change (such as animalart, music, gardening, therapies and more).
Parent involvement, workshops and family therapy

Boarding schools for troubled teens provide 24/7/365 care for your child that includes around-the-clock medical and mental health support as well as their education.

Most teens enter these programs as smart kids but were falling behind in school (underachieving); now that they are in a consistent school environment, they can focus and get back on track academically — some will surpass where they need to be in residential treatment.

Schools for troubled teens also provide healthy food and eating habits as well as a positive environment for emotional growth, better sleep and overall physical wellness provided by a supportive staff.

Therapeutic boarding schools continue to incorporate talk and group therapy, as well as other behavior therapies — and most importantly is family therapy and providing workshops and transitional home plans.

Why are wilderness programs so expensive?

We don’t have that answer. They have a therapist visit them in nature, you purchase the equipment. Most do not include academics. Your teen will likely gain self-worth, learn to build a fire — but unless you are moving into a long-term program, it will likely yield short-term behavioral results.

Paying for Therapeutic Boarding Schools

Although not every family can afford behavioral boarding schools such as therapeutic boarding schools, there are financial options such as educational loansIf a family has a college fund for their troubled teen or young adult, it might be time to consider using it. Once their teen is back on track emotionally, there are many great community colleges as well as college scholarships available.

Many PPO insurance plans include out-of-network coverage which helps pay for a portion of the clinical component of the program. Most schools will provide a courtesy verification of benefits (VOB) to give you a determination of coverage. Some programs will file the insurance for you and deduct it from your invoices while others will give you the billing statements for your child’s clinical hours for you to be reimbursed.

If you have HMO, Medicaid, or Tricare, they typically require you to stay in-network to have coverage. Parents would contact the number on their medical card to ask for adolescent residential treatment centers that are in their providers’ network. It’s always wise to ask for at least three options. Some providers will require you to have a therapist’s referral. You may have to see ask for a therapist in the network first.

For families searching for scholarships, they are extremely limited if at all. Always ask the program you are interested in if they have any available. Free programs or programs with sliding scales (in accordance with your income) can usually be found through your local United Way services or the National Guard Youth Challenge programs.

There are mental health services for all levels of income, it can be tedious and time consuming since money is a factor but getting your child the help they need is priority.

Also read:

Where to Send My Troubled Teen?

5 Tips for Searching Online for Schools for Troubled Teens.

5 Benefits of Therapeutic Boarding Schools.

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Family consultants help parents find reputable residential schools and treatment programs for troubled teens when they have utilized all of their local resources and are overwhelmed by their online searches.

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Many parents are at their wit’s end with the challenges of raising teenagers. If you are considering residential therapy, contact us for a free consultation.

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