When I started working as an educational/therapeutic consultant, I had no idea what therapeutic schools were. I just assumed that they were places where delinquent kids went. Once I started traveling around the country visiting many different types of therapeutic schools, I found out that my misconception about these places couldn’t have been further from the truth. I found out that the population of teens and young adults that were in these programs was pretty much the same as the population was in many fine private schools. In some ways, these teens and young adults were the lucky ones. They got caught. It may not seem to them or to their families that getting caught was a good thing, however, it allowed many maladaptive behaviors to be uncovered and to be addressed. The kids that I really worry about are the ones that are keeping their grades up, but engaging in many risky behaviors that their parents have not yet discovered.
A lot of the young people that I place in therapeutic schools are extremely bright, but they are often their own worst enemy. They find themselves getting into risky situations for a variety of reasons. Some of the population that I deal with have serious mental health issues that have given them a life time of struggles. Other young people that I place in therapeutic schools, may have just started acting up recently. They may find themselves disenchanted with school, experimenting with substances, having low self-esteem, withdrawing from activities that they previously enjoyed and generally struggling just to get through the day. They may not be happy, but they are also unwilling to change. I call it familiar discomfort. They know that they don’t like what it going on in their lives, but they are reluctant to change without a guarantee that the change will make their lives better.
Unfortunately, life has no guarantees. Even if you do decide to place your teen or young adult in one of these therapeutic schools, there is no guarantee that things will change. However, if you have tried everything else, would you really be comfortable not even giving your child the chance to change by going into one of these therapeutic schools ?