The world of therapeutic schools can be very confusing to the family who find themselves in need of one. What exactly are therapeutic schools and what are the types of facilities out there that might be appropriate for your child?
Psychiatric hospitals, residential treatment centers (RTC), therapeutic boarding schools(TBS), therapeutic wilderness programs, step down programs, failure to launch programs, aftercare in home treatment, are some of the labels that you may see thrown around on sites that you will find on line.
Therapeutic schools used to mean a boarding school with some emotional/behavioral support. However, more and more therapeutic boarding schools (TBS), are being replaced by residential treatment centers(RTC). The reason may be because the acuity of the student has increased over the years and the psychiatric profiles have become more and more complex. Due to that, the choice among therapeutic schools has been narrowing to allow more higher levels of care; residential treatment centers or psychiatric hospitals have been proliferating to address this population.
Therapeutic boarding schools are no longer equipped with the ability to handle a population of students with personality or mood disorders who may also need a psychiatrist to prescribe medication. The therapeutic boarding school is really more for a student who has some emotional/behavioral struggles but not deep seated, long standing mental health challenges.
Of course, there are still many therapeutic school options that concentrate on the population who is struggling with substance abuse. You will also find some amount of overlapping of issues so that experimentation with substances may be a part of many of the students who come to see me, without it being the primary focus to be addressed in their therapeutic school placement.
It is easy for the unsuspecting parent to go on line and find many therapeutic schools that seem to be the answer. The web sites of these therapeutic schools are often created by painting with a broad brush. It is not unusual for a parent to feel as though these programs already know their child; they are eager to help a family out and are willing to do what they can to facilitate getting your child into their program. Although most of these programs are expensive, keep in mind that the most expensive program is the one that doesn’t work. If the choice of a therapeutic school looks too easy to make, it probably is not the right one for your child.