Different types of troubled teens boarding schools
Regular boarding schools
Boarding schools or residential programs can be just what the doctor ordered for troubled teens or at-risk youth. Also known as "therapeutic boarding schools," they can provide crucial support and guidance for those in dire need.
The National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs conducted a study in 2010 on schools with troubled youth programs. According to the study, most teens who attend one of these schools show marked improvements in certain areas. Of special note was a reduction in behavioural and emotional issues. Most students also showed an improved ability to adopt a healthier outlook on life and maintain it well after leaving the school.
Another type of boarding school for troubled teens is military school. While military school isn’t for everyone, it can be a great fit for kids who need far more structure and guidance in their lives. Some troubled teens and youth thrive in military schools, showing dramatic improvements in discipline, confidence, and self-esteem.
Another residential option for troubled teens is a teen ranch. There are numerous teen ranches and wilderness programs for troubled teens across North America. These programs provide a rural, therapeutic environment that can help teenagers who struggle with a variety of issues. They can be an especially nice fit for those who enjoy the outdoors and feel a strong connection with nature.
What troubled teens boarding schools offer
Boarding schools for troubled teens provide a therapeutic environment and specialized education for at-risk youth. They also tend to offer numerous support services, not normally found in mainstream schools, either in the private or public system. For instance, many offer family and individual counselling, psychotherapy (including cognitive-behavioural therapy), rehabilitation, remediation, and treatment (among other services).
While these schools provide support for a wide range of problems (as do troubled teen camps), their main focus is on those who exhibit what’s called “troubled teen behaviour.” This can include a wide range of issues, including drug and alcohol abuse, violent behaviour, and criminality.
Some private boarding schools also support teens with emotional disorders such as eating disorders, and clinical depression or anxiety, and behavioural disorders, such as Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD), conduct disorder, reactive attachment disorders, and disruptive behaviour disorders. Many also support teens with other special needs: behavioural, developmental, learning, or physical disabilities. For instance, there are boarding schools for adolescents with autism, Asperger’s, ADHD, and dyslexia, among other issues. For a full list, check out our guide to special needs boarding schools.
While none of these schools are a cure-all, they can be very effective. For many kids, they make all the difference in the world. A therapeutic boarding school can help your teen regain stability, confidence, and self-esteem. It can also sometimes reinvigorate their love of life and learning.
On this page, find a list of the best boarding schools for troubled teens and youth. Click on a school profile to learn more about it, including its cost, programs, and therapeutic approaches. You can also click through to a school’s website and speak with a school official directly.