Parents of teens face significant challenges even when everything goes well; parents suffer serious heartbreak when they see their teens act out in self-destructive ways. Not only is it harmful to the teens, but the entire family feels the affected member’s pain. It takes courage for most parents to acknowledge the need for outside help.
Parents may choose to place their children in boarding school as a positive option. However, they need to understand the child’s struggles prior to placement. All boarding schools are not alike. They vary in size, location, structure and purpose. Parents can see the greatest differences between traditional and therapeutic boarding schools. Their function and purpose vary greatly.
Traditional Boarding Schools
A traditional boarding school primarily focuses on academics and preparing students for college. These schools offer more challenging courses with additional opportunities for extra-curricular activities. They provide increased structure and independence for students who need little supervision or guidance.
Most traditional boarding schools don’t have the resources to care for students coming from troubled backgrounds with emotional or behavioral issues. They cannot take teens with alcohol or substance abuse issues. In these cases, students requiring special attention benefit more from a therapeutic boarding school.
Therapeutic Boarding Schools
Initially, it may seem like choosing a therapeutic boarding school is a drastic option; however, this type of environment provides stability. Parents sometimes view these schools as a fresh start with opportunities for academic growth and excellence. A therapeutic boarding school offers a protective environment designed and staffed to give healing help that lasts beyond the teen’s placement period.
Therapeutic boarding schools offer key benefits to troubled teens. As a voluntary placement, they include clinical treatment and counseling to address teen issues in humane, integrated methods. These schools function with “rolling admission,” operating year-around and enabling students to enter the program at any time.
They serve as a safe haven for teens — physically, mentally and emotionally. Adolescents receive understanding and empathy from their counselors while connecting with peers with similar problems. They can learn to “breathe” again while working through their dysfunctions.
Teens will discover living conditions in a therapeutic boarding school much like a home setting. Expectations include contributing to daily life by helping with chores, cooking, cleaning, etc. The school holds meals in a family-style setting to encourage communication between the students and their live-in counselor.
Specialized Therapeutic Boarding Schools
One unique option for teen boys at some therapeutic boarding schools is a back-to-nature setting. Boys living at this type of facility take part in activities unavailable at traditional boarding schools. These include:
Rope courses for students to test their strength and endurance.
Located near lakes or rivers, some schools allow students to learn to kayak or sail. These activities serve to build confidence and improve self-esteem.
Ranch facilities that provide teens with the opportunity to work in stables, caring for horses and learning to ride. They learn the value of teamwork while working with the mammals.
These facilities help break through emotional barriers as teens participate in activities that bringing healing.