Why Therapeutic Boarding Schools Work for Teens

Many parents are curious why a therapeutic boarding school can work — help their difficult teen when home therapy has failed.  Outpatient treatment was unsuccessful, and the school setting is not working.

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.

Has your teen become destructive at home? Have you exhausted all your local resources, tried therapy and possible a short-term hospital stay? Maybe you even sent him to a relative’s home to stay. Now you have hit a roadblock.

Does any of this teen behavior sound familiar:


  • Defiance, anger, rage
  • Entitlement
  • Breaking curfew, sneaking out
  • Destructive (property), or explosive
  • Disrespectful, attitude, breaking family rules
  • Substance use, vaping
  • Internet, smartphone, or gaming addiction
  • Self-harm, suicide ideation
  • Running away
  • Stealing, legal issues
  • Posting inappropriate content online
  • School refusal (smart, but failing)

If so, you’re not alone!

When a teen is removed from the stressors and triggers of home – not to mention 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.

A positive and consistent environment replaces the toxic environment they are leaving. They won’t have access to drugs or alcohol – or their social media or devices. The peer influences are now cut-off. If they’ve 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’s 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.

They begin to gain perspective on life events that may have created trauma, or on their contribution to the “mess” their lives have become. They learn about their own unique emotional and cognitive make up and their problems or limitations as a starting point for the journey forward.

What can a quality therapeutic setting offer your teen?

A well-designed therapeutic boarding school accelerates the environment to enhance the likelihood and speed of change. The foundation of such environments is the creation of a safe, relationally warm place where the teen is protected from self-destructive behavior, unburdened from the “overwhelm” of life, and immersed in relational climate that invites introspection.


Such places enable young people to look at their choices, their personal limitations, and the outcomes of the strategies they are using, and to recognize their own contributions to their problems and unhappiness. From a basic, high-level vantage point, effective treatment programs share common elements:

  • A full and balanced daily life structure and schedule.
  • Clinical support through individual, behavioral therapy and group therapy.
  • Constant exposure to positive role models and coaching from staff.
  • A positive peer culture in which teens who have progressed influence other teens in positive ways.
  • Clear and constant expectations and rules.
  • Experiential and recreational activities.
  • Methods for defining and recognizing progress.
  • Academic programming and support.
  • Parent education and involvement in the treatment process.

Also read:

5 Benefits of Therapeutic Boarding Schools for Troubled Teens.

The Goal of Boarding Schools for Troubled Teens.

Success Rates of Therapeutic Boarding Schools.


Contact us today for a free consultation to find the right therapeutic boarding school for your troubled teenager.

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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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