Therapeutic boarding schools

SW Arch 22 Edit copy 300x198 Therapeutic boarding schoolsWhen is it time to take the plunge?

There are no strict guidelines as to when parents should choose residential treatment as a placement option for their teen. Generally speaking, teens enter residential treatment when their needs are too intense to be managed with outpatient treatment.

When we receive referrals from an outpatient counselor, usually one or more of the following issues is taking place:

  • Outpatient treatment has failed to contain the symptoms and increasing the intensity and/or the frequency of counseling contacts has not stemmed the tide of distress and dysfunction.
  • Available emotional resources for support from friends and family have become depleted or drained, leaving the teen with a lack of support during periods of heightened symptomatology.
  • There is no clear indication for acute inpatient hospitalization.
  • There is considerable diagnostic ambiguity that may be clarified or eliminated by regular or round-the-clock observations in a safe environment—for example, to determine whether a behavioral disturbance is the result of a rapid-cycling mood disorder or concealed substance abuse.
  • There are safety issues, such as escalating levels of substance abuse, disordered eating or purging behaviors, or self-injurious behaviors, that may be reduced in a controlled (but not necessarily locked) treatment milieu that features round-the-clock behavioral observations.

Therapeutic boarding schools fill a gap between outpatient treatment and inpatient hospitalization. But often the medical environment is simply not an effective intervention for most adolescent development issues. A hospital can feel impersonal, short, detached, expensive, and create a label for your teen that will be difficult for them to move past. Outpatient counseling can also feel impersonal to your teen as they tolerate it in an effort to simply get by each week. Unless your teen is motivated to change, outpatient counseling does not have sufficient structure and oversight to require a teen to ‘try change.’ The mere attendance in a weekly session can lull you as a parent into believing something is happening even though no real progress is being made.

Many teens confess when they arrive at Shelterwood that they are desperate for this kind of inpatient therapeutic help. While they might not admit it to their parents, most students realize that without a firm intervention that removes them from their environment, they had no ability to ‘self heal.’ As long as it was possible to avoid change, they were committed to avoiding it. But once they felt the warmth, support, and duration of a therapeutic boarding school, they let their guard down and tried on new ways to live.

Counseling isn’t working

When should I place my teen in a facility to get help?

So often it feels like an extreme measure to remove children from their homes and place them in a facility that might be in a completely different state.

There are no well-established guidelines for placing your teen in residential treatment. Generally speaking, teens enter residential treatment when their needs are too intense to be managed with outpatient counseling.

iStock 000007761349Small 200x300 Counseling isnt workingAfter talking with thousands of parents, what we hear most often is…

  1. “Outpatient counseling isn’t working.”

Parents frequently report that their teen seems to be spiraling out of control and increasing the intensity and/or the frequency of counseling has done nothing to stem the tide of distress and dysfunction. No matter how many opportunities they have given their teen to change, counseling, rewards, punishments have all failed to change the direction of their teen’s life.

  1. “Our family has had enough.”  “He was staying with his uncle, but he has worn out his welcome there too.”

All of the available emotional resources for support from friends and family have become depleted or drained.

  1. “I don’t understand it… he has a great life… I don’t understand why he is so depressed or angry or apathetic or lazy or failing….

Parents often experience confusion or ambiguity as to what the teen might be struggling with and are looking for greater insight and clarity.

  1. “We have to lock our bedroom door because he has stolen from us.” “We are afraid to leave her alone.” “She was grounded, but she just shoved me aside to run out the door.”

There are safety issues, such as escalating levels of substance misuse, self-injurious behaviors, or physical acting out that may be reduced in a controlled treatment milieu.

 

%name Counseling isnt workingAt Shelterwood Academy we can provide round the clock observation in a controlled environment. This level of stabilization helps clarify behaviors or emotions and allows parents to regain control of their homes. Reducing the impact of the teen in the home often protects siblings and enables parents to re-establish their relationships with one another. This renewed strength empowers parents and many families have reported to us that they felt the time out in a residential setting was critical in their own lives. The stress of worry, self doubt with regards to parenting skills, and the anxiety about their teen’s future were all greatly reduced while their teen was in residential care.