Residential Treatment Centers v Therapeutic Boarding Schools
Residential Treatment Centers v Therapeutic Boarding Schools

Residential Treatment Centers v Therapeutic Boarding Schools

What is a Therapeutic Boarding School?

A therapeutic boarding school is a residential facility that, in addition to providing traditional academic services, offers emotional, therapeutic, and behavioral therapy. Therapeutic boarding schools often cater to ‘troubled teens’ whose issues cannot be treated with traditional, outpatient therapies.

Therapeutic Boarding Schools vs. Residential Treatment Centers

Although they are often mistakenly referred to as being one in the same, residential treatment centers and therapeutic boarding schools have key fundamental differences in their functionality and type of therapeutic services - especially when referring to their intensity and key focuses.  

For instance, whereas residential treatment emphasizes providing 24/7 intensive, lockdown-treatment with little to no focus on education, therapeutic boarding schools emphasize the importance of combining academics with less restrictive, psychiatric care. However, it should be noted that residential treatment centers are better suited for teens who suffer from more severe mental and behavioral health issues eg. substance abuse and addiction.

Therapeutic boarding schools also require significantly longer stays than residential treatment centers (the latter typically requires 1-3 month stays). Therapeutic boarding schools, like that of traditional boarding schools, require their teenage students to live on campus for nine months to a year.

Other differences between the two treatment facilities include the number of residents they house. Therapeutic boarding schools typically accommodate a significantly larger group than that of a residential treatment center. Consequently, therapeutic boarding schools rely on peer-to-peer support and group therapies which are proven to be more healing and supportive for teenage patients than the strictly clinical and restrictive therapies provided at a residential treatment facility. Additionally, therapeutic boarding school’s large number of students ensure that teens - whose social lives are often a priority - won't miss out on genuine, high school experience.

Contrariwise, however, is that more students mean less individualization and one-on-one therapy sessions with therapists.    

Who Do Therapeutic Boarding Schools Treat?

Therapeutic boarding schools are designed to treat early-intervention teens who have just begun to act out in negative behaviors and have mild-to-medium issues with emotional and mental health disorders, substance abuse, and other emotional and behavioral issues. However, most therapeutic boarding schools, like that of Family First, exclusively cater to troubled teens who often require both academic restoration and psychiatric treatment for their underlying, mental health disorders.

Therapeutic boarding schools are the most popular treatment option among today’s parents of troubled teens.

Are There More Than One Type of Therapeutic Boarding School/Residential Treatment Center for Troubled Teens? 

Like most types of behavioral treatment programs, there are several types of therapeutic boarding schools. Whereas most therapeutic boarding schools lack the psychiatric care of residential treatment centers, and whereas residential treatment facilities generally lack the educational and social aspects of therapeutic boarding schools, there are highly specialized programs, like that of Family First AS, that provide an equally impactful balance of both forms of treatment. 

What Kinds of Issues Does Family First Specialize in Treating?

Family First Adolescent Services is committed to providing industry-leading troubled teen care in a safe and loving environment. Our approach is to treat the underlying issues that are causing destruction and dangerous behaviors in our clients.

Substance Abuse and Addiction 

  • We've been helping families heal from the damages caused by adolescent substance use. Learn more about how our staff can help begin the healing process.

Mental Health

  • There are many warning signs that indicate the presence of a mental health issue, such as depression, anxiety, or a complex trauma disorder. Learn more about mental health disorders and how we treat the disease.

Alcohol Abuse and Addiction

  • Adolescents who start drinking before the age of 15 are 4 times more likely to become alcohol dependent at some point in their lives. Learn more about teen drinking symptoms and treatment.

Problematic Gaming

  • Problematic Gaming is becoming a common issue in which teens avoid larger issues through the escape of gaming. Learn more about this issue and watch our segment that was featured on Dr. Phil.

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