Residential Treatment Centers for Teens

What is a residential treatment center for teens? Does my teen need one? Residential treatment programs provide intensive help for youth with emotional and behavior problems.

While receiving residential treatment, children temporarily live outside of their homes and in a facility where they can be supervised and monitored by trained staff.

unSplashBoyIs your teen: 

-Sad, depressed, anxious?
ADHD, OCD, Bipolar
Addicted to their smartphone? Social media? Video gaming?
Failing in school, but capable of passing?
-Vaping, smoking pot, using drugs, drinking?
-Defiant, rage, explosive?
Self-harm, destructive?
Withdrawn, isolates? Stays in their room?
Negative peer groups?
Loss of interest in their hobbies or activities?
Disrespects your family rules?
-Steals, legal issues?

If you’re experiencing a few of these behavior issues, it’s likely you are extremely frustrated and feel like you’re living in a warzone. Residential treatment can help teens whose health and mental health is at risk while living in their community and at home.

For example, the programs are helpful for those who have not responded to outpatient treatments (local therapy has failed), who have education needs that cannot be met in local or private schools, or who are in need of further intensive treatment following inpatient psychiatric care.

Effective residential treatment programs provide:

-Comprehensive evaluation. This can assess their emotional, behavior, medical, educational and social needs to design a unique treatment plan.

-Individualized treatment plan. This helps your teen put in place intervention to help them attend their goals towards healing and recovery.

-Psychiatric and mental health care. Your teen will be supported by professionals to them with emotional growth and wellness, including developing coping skills.

-Involvement of family support. Residential programs provide parenting workshops that provide opportunities for not only skills to unite the family, but for family therapy through both virtual session and on-site visits.

Figuring out which residential treatment program is the best fit for your child and for your family can be challenging.

Finding the right residential program

PexelWomenOnlineAt Parents Universal Resources we help educate families on the daunting task of researching schools and programs. We have been educating parents since 2001 on the teen-help industry since it can be extremely confusing. The expansion of the internet and websites claiming to be “placement specialists” we all need to take the time to know more about what is be for your individual child.

One simple online search for “residential treatment centers for teens” yields over 14 million results! We help you find the right facility your individual needs.

Many parents ask about success rates in resident treatment. The fact is, there has never been a study done that is independent of this industry. Success depends on many factors — your diligence in finding the right program for your teenager and your participation in the treatment plan.

What is the difference between a TBS and an RTC?

The short answer is: it depends on the state and how the state licenses residential programming.  There is no national standard and each of our fifty states have the responsibility to set their own licensure requirements for private-pay residential programming; many states divide up the enforcement between numerous governmental departments and some states do not even regulate private-pay residential care. The scope and specifics of state regulations vary greatly, and some states do not require independent licensure at all.

What these programs all have in common is that they are all addressing physical, emotional, behavioral, familial, social, and intellectual/academic development; it is how that is addressed which differentiates between the TBS or RTC.

RTC’s typically have more clinical care than a TBS, however we have also seen emotional growth programs that have a strong clinical foundation. We suggest you interview the program/school that you believe best fits your teen’s emotional needs.

We also remind parents not to limit their search by proximity to their home. What’s most important is the best program for their emotional wellness, with the reminder that this is only a small part of their entire life. Also note that parents will be visiting usually bi-monthly – it’s not like a traditional boarding school where you are there every weekend or he/she is coming home regularly. It’s important to allow the program to do their work. If you are determined to keep them close to home, keep in mind, this can also increase their flight plan in that program since they are familiar with that area.

Also read:

Why Residential Treatment Works When Home Therapy Fails

5 Benefits of Boarding Schools for Troubled Teens

Is Residential Treatment Effective?


Contact us for a free consultation to help you find the right residential treatment for your teen and family.


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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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