Schools for Troubled Teens

Parenting difficult teenagers is challenging, however when their behavior has escalated to more than typical teenage behavior and you have lost control or authority over them, it is time to search for schools for troubled teens.

An online search for “schools for troubled teens” yields over 5 million results, this can be extremely daunting and confusing to parents seeking help for teen issues.

Many parents walking this journey for the first time have a good teen that are making bad choices, and fear that sending them to places for troubled teens may make teen problems worse.  We are here to help educate you to make the right decision for your family’s needs.

Is your teenager:

  • Struggling with teen depression, sadness, anxiety?
  • Defiant, disrespectful, rude, entitled?
  • Anger, rage, explosive?
  • Vaping, doing drugs, drinking?
  • ADHD, ODD, RAD, Bipolar
  • Addicted to their smartphone, video-gaming?
  • Refusing to go to school, skipping classes?
  • Smart, but failing in school?
  • Withdrawing from favorite interests?
  • Struggling with depression or anxiety?
  • Stealing money from parents? Legal issues?

Parents have reached out to local therapists, tried outpatient treatment, and possibly a short stay at a psychiatric hospital – hoping for that magic answer. Some parents will have their child move in with a relative – hoping a change in environment will change the attitude.  As these local options slowly fail, all roads point to behavioral boarding schools.

What Are Schools for Troubled Teens?

We have been educating parents since 2001 about finding the right therapeutic boarding school for their troubled teen. It starts with a better understanding of the troubled teen industry and the terminology you will be finding online. This can help you determine what school or program best fits your teen’s individual needs.

Therapeutic Boarding Schools (TBS) and Residential Treatment Centers (RTC) are the two most common types schools for behavior modification to help with troubled teenagers. 

These schools and programs are a type of alternative school that specializes in educating and helping troubled teenagers and young adults through psychological counseling, mentoring, physical and emotional health, as well are restore teenage mental health.

Some families prefer therapeutic setting with a Christian Boarding School. It is important to find a school or program that is first and foremost a TBS or RTC with credentialed staff and accredited academics that incorporates the spiritual setting. Most religious programs that are not licensed appropriately (also much less in tuition), will likely not be able to give you detailed invoicing for clinical hours if you are relying on insurance coverage. It is imperative to review their academic accreditation if you are depending on your teen to accomplish their education at this program.

What Is the Difference Between a TBS and RTC?

Does your troubled teen need a therapeutic boarding school or a residential treatment center?

You are surfing the internet and confused at what would be best for your defiant and depressed teenager — there are many beautiful websites popping up, many without tuition fees, and more that are linked to marketing arms. How can parents really know what is best for their teen and family?

What is the difference between a TBS and RTC and what is right for your teen?

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.

We encourage parents to take a deeper dive into the boarding school for troubled teens they are considering and determine what they offer that will inspire their teenager to help build self-esteem. Help for troubled teens starts with motivating them in a positive direction. What enrichment programs does the boarding school offer that will stimulate your teen in a positive direction, such as:

These enrichment programs are designed to encourage change and build self-confidence as well as developing coping skills for anger and stress management. Never underestimate the importance of selecting a school for troubled teens that include a positive and inspiring environment in addition to a qualified staff.

Does My Troubled Teen Need a Wilderness Program?

Have you been told your defiant teen needs a wilderness program or wilderness therapy? You are new to the troubled teen industry arena and realizing the many programs for wilderness therapy as well as schools for troubled teens — what exactly does your teen need?

One of the biggest misconceptions in this field is that every defiant or teen doing drugs needs to attend a wilderness program. It is time to sort the myths and facts of wilderness programs.

Myth: Many parents are led to believe that most quality therapeutic boarding schools will not accept a teen that has not completed a wilderness program. That simply is not true. 

Myth: Any teen that is using drugs needs to do a wilderness first. This is not true.

Myth: All teens do wilderness first, if not they will not succeed. Again, not true.

Fact: Wilderness programs are not necessary to enter a many therapeutic boarding schools and residential treatment centers.

Fact: Wilderness programs are an expensive band-aid. They will cost a family from $450-650 per day and the duration is about 4-9 weeks. The fact is — long lasting behavioral changes cannot take place in short-term programs. Therefore, most students that attend wilderness programs transition on to a therapeutic boarding school or residential treatment center.

Fact: Teens need consistency. Program hopping is not beneficial to anyone (except the programs that are being paid – and the professional you are paying if you hired an Educational Consultant that typically recommend wilderness programs). Finding the one behavioral boarding school that can offer your teen long-lasting changes is likely best for the entire family. In many cases, they also have parenting workshops that bring the entire family back-together.

Most therapeutic boarding schools and residential treatment centers are equipped (trained) and designed to accept the resistant teenager. If you believe your troubled teenager is going to be too defiant or aggressive, discuss it with the director, it is likely they will assure you they are trained for this behavior.

Wilderness programs are short-term programs will typically yield short-term results. It usually did not take 4-6 weeks to get to where you are right now, it will not take 4-6 (or 9 for that matter) weeks to turn it around or have long-lasting behavioral results.

What Are Programs for Young Adults?

Failure to thrive has become a growing concern among parents today of young adults aged 17-21. The good news is there is help through life skills programs that offer emotional growth, social skills, goal setting and much more.

Studies suggest that over half of young adults 18-21 still live at home with their parents, with a vast majority of these adult children facing failure to launch syndrome.

Both young adult men and women are struggling with depression, anxiety, technology addiction, lack motivation, lack social skills, hygiene issues, direction in life, and sometimes substance use.

Life Skills Program can equip your child with coping skills to deal with adversity and change that real-life can throw at them, as well as help students identify who they are by what they can do, rather than what they have done.

Are Schools for Troubled Teens Effective?

It is a very common question especially after you have had the sticker shock of the tuition of schools for troubled teens. Are therapeutic boarding schools effective and how will they help my troubled teenager?

A therapeutic program (outside of your teen’s comfort area) is specifically set-up to stop the downward spiral of a teen’s behavior and change the course to an upward one.

When a teen is removed from the stressors and triggers of home – including their peer influences and devices (social media) – with a slowed down manageable pace – and placed into an environment with staff, activities (enrichment programs) and therapy designed to encourage change – (build self-worth) – the opportunity for the kind of true and deep change required to turn your teen’s life around can finally start to happen.

positive and consistent environment replaces the toxic environment they are leaving. They no longer have access to drugs or alcohol – or their devices. The peer influences are now cut-off. If they have been struggling academically, often this new and unique environment is where they will begin to thrive again.

If there was family conflict, the destructive cycles with siblings and/or parents are now stopped and communication is deliberately slowed down to include mediated conversations, letter exchanges, and intermittent visits.

This completely changes the dynamic and stops parents and teens from engaging in the same ineffective communication patterns used before. It is as if a pause button is pushed and teens eventually are able to move away from their rigid perspectives and look at their relationships from a new and clear vantage point.

Questions Parents Ask About Schools for Troubled Teens

  1. Should your teen help you choose the program?
  2. My teen is not willing to attend, how do we get them to the program?
  3. Will my teen hate me for sending them to the program?
  4. My teen is very smart academically, will they fall behind?
  5. My teen is a good kid, (making bad choices) we are a good family — I fear he/she will be around some hard kids?

Read the answers to these questions here.

Are you online searching for the right school for your troubled teenager? Visit our research tips and contact us for a free consultation. Since 2001 we have been helping parents by educating them about help for their troubled teenager.

Also read:

5 Benefits to Therapeutic Boarding Schools.

When Is Time to Send My Teen Away?

3 Reasons for Therapeutic Boarding Schools. 

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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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