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Best Therapeutic Boarding Schools

What are therapeutic boarding schools?

Therapeutic boarding schools offer an educational program together with specialized structure and supervision for students with emotional and behavioral problems, substance abuse problems, or learning difficulties. The focus of top therapeutic boarding schools is on recovery and amelioration of emotional and academic problems. The goal is to return the student home and to a mainstream school environment.

Therapeutic and educational approaches vary widely. The best therapeutic boarding schools deploy a “mosaic” of interventions. These may include adaptations of techniques from twelve-step programs, group processing, Piaget’s philosophies (students must learn at their own pace) and the tenets of Erik Erikson who believed that long term well-being depends on one’s ability to successfully navigate difficult transitions early in life.

Usually students at therapeutic boarding schools remain in the program for one to two years. During this time they are earning high school credits for eventual transfer to mainstream high school. Alternatively, some therapeutic boarding schools are themselves accredited and award high school diplomas.

List of therapeutic boarding schools

These schools are co-ed programs. This is only a sample of available options. School Search Solutions does not endorse nor officially recommend any particular program.

  • Grove School – CT
  • The Glenholme School – CT
  • Academy at Swift River – MA
  • Shortridge Academy – MA
  • John Dewey Academy – MA
  • Carlbrook School – VA
  • Montana Academy – MT
  • Monarch School – MT
  • Oakley School – UT
  • Old West Academy – UT

Therapeutic boarding schools for boys

  • Eagleton School – MA
  • Wediko Children’s Services – MA
  • Stone Mountain School – NC

Therapeutic boarding schools for girls

  • Chrysalis School – MT
  • Lake House Academy – NC
  • New Leaf Academy – OR
  • Greenbrier Academy – WV

How can I confidently chose the best therapeutic boarding school for my student?

Over the past decade, many new therapeutic boarding schools have opened in response to the increased needs and numbers of struggling young people. Each of these programs is different, deploying a unique “patchwork” of therapies, daily routines, academics and experiences. We urge parents to thoughtfully review school options with a professional who understands your student’s needs and your family’s preferences to ensure appropriate placement.

Top therapeutic boarding schools are licensed by the appropriate state agency authorized to set and oversee standards of therapeutic and/or behavioral healthcare for youth and adolescents or accredited by a nationally recognized behavioral health accreditation agency. Parents should inquire about appropriate licensing and accreditation.

Questions to ask the therapeutic boarding schools before making a final placement decision

  • Are you licensed by the State? What type of license is it? What State office issued the license?
  • Do you have a Clinical Director? What are his/her credentials? May I meet him/her?
  • What are the credentials of the staff that will be working with my child? Specifically the credentials of the counselors and/or therapists. Are they certified? Licensed within your State?
  • How is my child’s progress judged? Who participates in determining my child’s progress?
  • Will my child be receiving clinical therapy? How often?
  • If so, what is the core curriculum?
  • Do you have teachers? If so, are they certified or licensed within your State?
  • What measures do you have in place to keep my child safe?
  • How do you deal with risk-taking behaviors? (i.e. running away, self-harm, etc.)
  • Will my child be exposed to other students that have more negative behaviors?
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