TEEN BOARDING SCHOOLS
How a Therapeutic Boarding School Can Help Your Teen
By Leslie Davis
You’ve been watching your teen struggle with drugs and alcohol for a couple of years. You’ve tried at-home detox, set strict house rules and kept a close eye on what your teen is doing after school. No matter how much you try, or how much you talk to your child, the substance abuse continues.
Don’t give up just yet. Help is available.
A residential therapeutic boarding school may be just what your teen needs to get on the path of sobriety. You may have resisted this type of treatment because you feel like you are giving up on your teen. Or you may have heard that these schools aren’t what they purport to be and can’t effectively help your teen recover from an addiction.
Either way, you’d be wrong. Residential therapeutic schools have proven to be effective with helping teens overcome addiction, work through mood disorders and quell their disruptive behaviors. They do so through treatment provided by a trained professional staff that uses proven therapeutic methods to help teens work through their problems and improve their behaviors.
A recent study of nine private residential schools, performed by independent research company Canyon Research & Consulting Inc., found that teens who attended the schools improved in several areas:
- Improved communication
- Heightened self-confidence
- Less susceptible to peer pressure
- Better compliance with rules
- Improved family relationships
- More cooperative
- Decrease in negative behaviors
The study surveyed about 1,000 teens between the ages of 13 and 18 who attended schools operated by Aspen Education Group. Nearly 100 percent of the teens showed significant improvement in their confidence, behavior, communication and emotional problems between the time they enrolled and the time they were discharged.
The majority of the teens surveyed (85 percent) were treated for multiple problems:
- Disruptive behavior (44 percent)
- Substance abuse (36 percent)
- Mood disorders (31 percent)
About 95 percent of the teens had received prior treatment, generally in the form of outpatient therapy. The success they experienced in residential treatment held true regardless of the teen’s gender, age, ethnicity, number and type of problems, prior treatment and length of stay.
Why Residential Therapeutic Schools Are Effective
The idea of sending your teen to a private school, possibly in another state, may worry you or cause you to feel like you have given up on your teen. But residential therapeutic schools may be the most effective way to help your teen break an addiction to drugs or alcohol.
Therapeutic boarding schools provide teens with structure in an environment that is away from their normal stressors and peers. That may be just what they need to break old habits or gain perspective on their actions. Sometimes being in a different environment is the best way to change behaviors.
The staff at these schools is trained in dealing with issues specific to teens, and has a lot of experience helping teens overcome their addictions and work through any co-occurring disorders (such as depression and anxiety). The schools have both licensed and unlicensed professionals on staff, each providing treatment in their areas of expertise and working as a team to address all relevant issues your teen may be experiencing.
Residential therapeutic schools also offer teens an accredited curriculum so that they don’t fall behind in their education. The schools put a premium on having a well-rounded selection of courses, and often have many extracurricular activities for students to get involved with.
Unlike the school your teen currently attends, therapeutic schools put together individualized education plans that target your teen’s learning style, strengths and weaknesses. This can help your teen build confidence and take more ownership in getting a solid education.
Once you’ve made the decision to enroll your teen at a therapeutic boarding school, take the time to find one that you know will work. Be sure to investigate the specialties of the schools to make sure they can provide the treatment your teen needs to overcome their substance abuse or other disorder.
When looking into residential boarding schools, also consider the following:
- Number of students enrolled
- Demographics of the student population
- Success rate for treatment
- Staff to student ratio
- Average length of stay
- Courses available
- Extracurricular activities offered
- Availability of therapy and support groups
- Parental involvement in treatment
- Location and environment
- Amount of communication you will be able to have with your teen
- Type of payment plans offered
Remember that enrolling your teen in a residential therapeutic school is not a sign of failure. It may be the change your teen needs to stop using drugs or alcohol and again become the confident, cooperative kid you raised.