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Therapeutic Boarding Schools vs. Residential Treatment for Teens: What is the Difference?


Therapeutic Boarding Schools (TBS): What Are They?

Therapeutic boarding schools are similar to residential treatment centers, except they’re self-contained and provide a more structured environment for teens. 

Teens live in a residential setting with other teens who have been diagnosed with behavioral or emotional issues. 

They typically attend school on campus, but may also be involved in extracurricular activities such as team sports and theater productions. 

The staff of these facilities consists of therapists and teachers who oversee the teens during the day, as well as dorm parents who supervise them at night.


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How can a TBS help my teen?

A therapeutic boarding school can help teens who are struggling with addiction, mental health issues, or other challenges. 

In the same way that residential treatment facilities provide services to teens struggling with these issues, therapeutic boarding schools offer a safe place for students to focus on their recovery while living in a structured environment. 

They also provide educational support to help students make up any missing credits from previous schools and prepare them for college or trade programs after graduation.

For teens who are expelled from public school for behavioral issues and haven’t been able to find success at home, therapeutic boarding schools offer an alternative option that gives them a chance at getting back on track academically without facing the same obstacles they faced before entering treatment.


Who Should Consider a TBS?

  • If your teen is struggling with substance abuse, a TBS can help.
  • If your teen is having behavioral issues and has been in trouble with the law, a TBS can help.
  • If your teen is academically struggling, a TBS can help.
  • If your teen has been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD or other learning disabilities and needs additional support to succeed at home or school, a TBS may be right for them.


When is a TBS not the best option?

While TBSs are a good option for many teens, they’re not right for everyone. 

If your teen isn’t motivated to change or needs to be in an emergency at the moment (like if she’s in crisis or has been hospitalized), then a residential treatment center is likely a better choice. 

Also, if your child suffers from severe mental illness (such as schizophrenia), TBSs may not be able to help him or her as much as something like an intensive inpatient facility can.


Tips for Choosing the Right TBS for Your Family

To choose a therapeutic board school (TBS), there are several factors to consider. First, look for a school that has a strong academic program. 

Second, find out if the TBS has an equally strong therapeutic program and aftercare program. Third, make sure the school is accredited by your state or regional accrediting association.

In addition to these tips, there are many things parents can do when looking into finding an appropriate TBS for their teen:


Therapeutic boarding schools can be a useful option for certain teens

Therapeutic boarding schools (TBS) can be a useful option for certain teens. 

For teens who need to get out of their current environment, or who are struggling in school and need help with their academics, TBS might be the answer. 

Or if your teen is struggling with mental health issues, therapeutic boarding schools can provide the therapeutic support that may be missing from home life.

The question remains: Is residential treatment for teens better than a TBS? The answer depends on your child’s unique needs and situation. 

If you’re looking into these options for your child, consider their long-term goals and what they would gain from each type of program before making a final decision about where they should spend time during this critical time in their lives.


Some teens need residential treatment for mental illness, substance abuse, or serious behavioral issues

Residential treatment for mental illness, substance abuse, or serious behavioral issues is a more intense form of care that can be helpful for many teens. 

If your teen has a mental health disorder, such as depression or an anxiety disorder, residential treatment can provide specialized services and help your teen learn to manage life with this condition. 

Residential treatment also provides an environment where teens with severe substance abuse problems can address their addiction while living on-site. 

Additionally, behavioral health providers may use residential treatment as a way to help young adults who have been struggling with serious behavior issues since childhood learn to manage their emotions and develop healthier ways of communicating with others.

Residential treatment programs can help treat teens struggling with serious mental or behavioral health issues

If your teen needs residential treatment, they may qualify for a program that provides the following:

  • 24-hour supervision and care
  • Individual counseling sessions
  • Group therapy sessions
  • Educational services to help them keep up with their schoolwork

As you can see, therapeutic boarding schools are a great option for teens who need help with their behavior or emotional well-being. 

If your child is struggling in school, or at home, consider sending them to a TBS. 

You should also make sure that the school offers all of the services and support that your child needs

—a good place to start is by talking with a therapist or other mental health professional who has experience with these types of programs.


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