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Specialized Placements

Therapeutic Boarding Schools, Wilderness Programs, Residential Treatment Centers (RTC's), and Step Down Programs

You can't go back and change the beginning,

but you can start where you are and change the ending.


                                   C.S. Lewis

When families are faced with problems related to mental health, addiction, and behavioral issues, traditional schools are generally not able to deal with these conditions. Parents may ask "just what type of environment does my son or daughter need in order to achieve wellness, to re-enroll in school, or be able to continue on to college?"


As an industry, programs, schools, and others in the therapeutic realm change often, so a program or school which is in operation one month may close or will have changed its primary focus the next. This is an important consideration and a primary reason to work with an educational consultant who regularly evaluates therapeutic programs, schools, and facilities.



Wilderness When should a family consider these types of programs? When addiction, issues regarding mental health, and other conditions which require immediate attention exist. What to consider when selecting a program:

  • Is a detoxification program part of a program's offerings?
  • What is a step down program, and how do they differ from programs incorporating primary substance abuse treatment options?
  • Are programs co-ed or gender specific? Age specific?
  • What intake procedures are involved. How long will a program's intake procedures take? Will our family be able to wait?
  • Is family participation part of a program or required?
  • Is the program staffed with certified mental health professionals?
  • Are field staff certified?
  • What are the time commitments and costs? Many have application fees which run between $2000 to $3000 dollars (largely for wilderness-based equipment, clothing, etc.) and many run $500 dollars or more per day? Some take insurance while others are exclusively private pay.
  • What is the program's reputation? How long has it been in operation?
  • Are they affiliated or credentialed by organizations such as the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP)?

Therapeutic Boarding Schools and Residential Treatment Centers (RTC's) There are many different types of schools and therapeutic programs. Some focus on short term and are largely therapeutic in nature, while others are more traditional in nature while offering supports. While some may support a student's temporary academic needs though in-house or virtual means, others may offer a more comprehensive (from intake to graduation) program which may include certified classroom teachers and courses which include Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) offerings. What to consider when selecting a therapeutic boarding school or program:

  • What is the school's reputation? How long have they been in operation?
  • Average length of stay?
  • Cost?
  • Location?
  • Primarily therapeutic or hybrid?
  • Therapeutic/Clinical Offerings?
  • Academic offerings/Preparation?
  • Rate of matriculation?
  • Next school or college placement support?
  • Are they nationally accredited? Are their outcomes supported by research?
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