“You cannot put a price on your child’s success.”


“July 23, 2015, was the absolute worst day of my life,” says Judge Brent Hall. It was the day he and his wife dropped their daughter Maddie off at Shelterwood. “I cried the entire time I was there. My wife and I cried the entire 500 miles back home from Shelterwood, and we did not talk to each other for days. It was numbing. It was the hardest decision of my life — but looking back on it now, we cannot even begin to count all the good that has come out of it. There has really been a lot of restoration. I would do it all over again.” Judge Hall shares his family’s story of restoration.

Maddie had been a happy child who enjoyed school, until things took a turn for the worst. “Things happened really fast for us,” recalls Judge Hall. In a matter of seasons, his daughter Maddie had changed. “Maddie was completely debilitated, self-harming and giving up on herself. She had a heart to help people, but she did not have a strong self-identity. Once we got through the psychiatric hospitalization, the back at home suicide attempt, the second psychiatric hospitalization and the suspension from school . . . Maddie knew she needed help.”

The family explored many options, looking beyond their home state of Kentucky to programs in Indiana, Georgia and Alabama. “We were calling all of these programs, filling out forms, figuring out finances . . . we did not know which way to turn.”

Navigating insurance and finances was no easy feat, but Judge Hall and his wife were committed to getting Maddie the very best care possible. “We leveraged everything to get Maddie there and through the program.” Ultimately, the decision focused on the people who would be caring for Maddie — “putting your child in the hands of people that love your Lord and love your kid as much as you do.”

The next few months were challenging, with Maddie progressing slowly, but a turning point happened several months into her stay at Shelterwood. “After seeing friends graduate, Maddie decided she was going to invest in the program. She started really seeing herself and her actions, and understanding how they affected not only herself, but others. She started seeing the entire dynamic at Shelterwood.”

Maddie participated in a wide range of therapies at Shelterwood. “From equine therapy to Brain Balance, she did everything we could think of.” The young adult mentors were also key in Maddie’s transformation. “They are just the backbone of the program. They always had Maddie’s back.”

Judge Hall still remembers how important Maddie’s therapist, Kenny DeBlock, was to the whole family’s restoration. “Kenny was a lifesaver. Kenny worked with us to give us different perspectives and a different view of things. We were learning not only where Maddie was, but where Kenny hoped she would go.”

One year after the tearful arrival, Maddie graduated from Shelterwood. “We were scared to death about the transition home. We were scared about any little pitfall,” he says. Yet, Maddie was able to successfully leverage the tools she had gained at Shelterwood. “She had all the tools she needed to deal with adverse influences and triggers in her life.”

SW Judge Hall daughter Madison Shelterwood 768x1024 You cannot put a price on your childs success.

Today, Maddie is thriving. “We have a lot of hope now for Maddie’s future,” Judge Hall says. She is enrolled in college prep and Advanced Placement (AP) courses and wants to pursue a career in the sciences, technology, engineering and math fields. She is an avid and competitive  lacrosse player and even enjoyed time at a space camp recently.

Maddie’s relationships with the rest of the Hall family have transformed beautifully, Judge Hall shares. “There has really been a lot of restoration. I am finally getting to see my three daughters have the relationship I always hoped they would have.”

“Just seeing that she has a future she has defined for herself and a future that God has planned for her — she is excelling beyond anything we could have imagined. You cannot put a price on your child’s success. You cannot put a price on that kind of healing and that kind of restoration. She is doing awesome.”

Residential treatment agency: How to know when it is time

If you are in the middle of a challenging season with your teen, it can be tough to determine what to do next. Perhaps you have found a great counselor locally and, a few months in, progress has stalled. Maybe you received the latest in a series of progress reports and grades are still in decline. Whatever your family may be facing, you might be considering further action.

This decision is difficult. On the one hand, it seems extreme and scary to send your child away to a boarding school. On the other hand, you might be ready to give your teen much-needed help. How do you know when it is time for a residential treatment agency?

At Shelterwood Academy, we have spoken with thousands of parents who have found themselves in the same position as you. They had similar questions and concerns. Here are a few ways to know when it is time for a residential treatment agency:

1. “Outpatient counseling is not working.”

Evaluate your outpatient counseling experience. Has your teen been attending for a while but making no progress? Generally, teens enter residential treatment when their needs are too intense to be managed with outpatient counseling. Beyond a couple of sessions a week, your teen could benefit from a full-time model of care.

2. “Our family has had enough.”

Assess your whole family’s emotional capacity. Your marriage, other children and professional career can suffer when so much of your time and attention is focused on your child. Even the strongest parent needs a respite. If you feel your mental and emotional energy is depleted, it may be time for additional help. Therapeutic boarding school can offer you a chance to regenerate while staying fully involved in your child’s treatment journey.

3. “We’ve tried strategy after strategy — and nothing has worked.”

Have you have put every strategy under the sun into play with no results? No matter how many opportunities you give your teen to change – counseling, rewards, punishments – nothing seems to work. You are frustrated and ready for your teen’s life to head in a different direction. Clinical expertise in a residential setting could be critical for your teen’s restoration.

4. “I’m concerned for my teen’s safety.”

Your teen’s and your family’s safety is of primary importance. If your teen exhibits reckless behavior that puts anyone at risk (themselves, you, your family or friends), it is time to get help. Examples include fearing to leave your child alone, drug and alcohol abuse, anger, stealing and more. A therapeutic boarding school and residential treatment agency can provide a safe, engaging environment – the right setting for personal growth.

If you are frustrated and experiencing any of the concerns above, it may be time to get help. Consider Shelterwood Residential Treatment Agency. Shelterwood combines boarding school excellence with the best in therapeutic care for real transformation. At Shelterwood, our desire is to create an environment where teens know they are loved, valued and have purpose.

Take the first step for hope, real heart change and real restoration for your teen. Reach out today: 866.585.8939.

The Power of Play

Marbles, Lincoln Logs, building blocks, board games, even Play Doh: all of these common toys become clinical tools in play therapy. Personalized treatment within our residential setting is a critical part of the Shelterwood plan, and we match teens with the best possible methods of intervention, making our therapeutic program intensely personal and purposeful. Shelterwood therapist LaTisha Robinson dives in to explain the power of play therapy and why it is one of the many therapies we use.

Play therapy as a clinical practice: Our defenses are naturally lowered when we play, says LaTisha. The shift from traditional talk therapy to play therapy can offer a fresh perspective. “Sometimes, we use play therapy as a modality when we feel like we have lost momentum therapeutically. This allows students to open up in a way that is different from the traditional talk therapy,” she explains. “Many teenagers anticipate the traditional talk therapy, and they are prepared for that. When we pull out blocks, Play-Doh or a board game, it shifts their mindset. It helps to open their eyes to new ideas.”

How Shelterwood approaches play therapy: “Every therapist has their own modality,” LaTisha explains. “Although teens have a chronological age, play therapy really taps into their brain age component. Sometimes, play therapy can help shift the conversation into a lighter mood. Teens become fully engaged in the process of it. The possibilities are truly endless.”

Processing and play therapy: Another advantage to play therapy is the underlying messages teens will share. “We get the unwritten messages,” LaTisha says. “We can pick up on things that teens would not otherwise vocalize. Through actions in playing, their defenses are being lowered and it opens up so many different pathways. With play, you are interacting on a completely different level.” Teens are able to build skills in processing and self-awareness as well.

Play therapy in action: LaTisha recalls a student who thrived as a result of his participation in play therapy. “This student was really struggling with trust. He was putting up walls, he was defensive and would frequently break rules. So we started playing with a football, just throwing it back and forth. He was not saying much at first, and had never told me anything related to his personal life. During one session, he finally opened up and started telling me stories about football games, how he had been hurt in the past, how people had let him down and much more,” she says. Whenever the student had something to share, he would grab the football. He grew to see people as trustworthy and dependable.

Going beyond child’s play: “Play therapy has so much value and so much weight when you tap into that inner child who is longing to be heard and acknowledged,” LaTisha says. “Play therapy is a proven cognitive behavior way to work through trauma, grief, loss, anxiety, depression, and can have real power in gaining ground with teens.”