Therapeutic Boarding Schools Serve Diverse Groups of Teens

By Hugh C. McBride

If your only exposure to private boarding schools is the evening news or primetime television, then you may have a skewed opinion of these schools. Shows such as “Gossip Girl” and the occasional episode of “Law & Order” portray boarding school students as entitled, privileged teens who are running wild with promiscuity, drug abuse, and other unhealthy behaviors.

But the truth is that many private boarding schools are far from permissive havens for bad behavior run amok. In fact, a number of renowned private boarding schools provide a comprehensive therapeutic and educational experience that helps students end their destructive behaviors and get back on track toward a productive and satisfying future.

The following programs are examples of the great variety of private therapeutic boarding schools in the United States today – schools that are uniquely prepared to treat and teach adolescents with a wide range of academic, emotional, and behavioral challenges.

Overcoming Depression & Aggression

For many young people today, the path to adulthood is strewn with enough obstacles to challenge even the healthiest young person. From peer pressure and bullying to worries about one’s academic performance, appearance, and status within the school’s social hierarchy, the vast majority of today’s teens are beset by stresses that, if not properly addressed, threaten to derail their continued healthy development.

Addressing Addiction

Many adolescents who are struggling in school or at home are also struggling with an addiction to or dependency upon alcohol or other drugs.

At a private therapeutic boarding school such as SunHawk Academy in St. George, Utah, teens who have been abusing alcohol or other drugs can receive addiction treatment while completing a fully accredited academic curriculum. SunHawk’s academic and addiction recovery programs for teens include:

• Clinical staff and residential staff working closely together to assess each student’s needs, create an individualized treatment plan, and make decisions regarding each student’s progress and goals.
• Individual and family therapy, as well as 28 hours per week of substance abuse-focused group therapy sessions.
• Self-paced academics suited to each student’s needs and abilities.
• A daily schedule that allows teens to focus on therapy and programming during the day, while earning academic credits in the afternoon and evening.
• A five-tiered level system that allows teens to receive privileges like off-campus trips and extended family interactions for demonstrated understanding of the 12 Steps and appropriate adolescent behavior.

Serving Students in Need

Adolescents with emotional disorders, substance abuse issues, and weight-management issues are just a few of the unique and often overlooked student populations that are served by therapeutic boarding schools in the United States. These targeted treatment programs allow troubled or at-risk teens to make significant academic progress while identifying and addressing the issues that have previously hindered their healthy growth and development.