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Residential Therapeutic Boarding Schools Offer Alternative to Military School for Troubled Teens


A common misconception is that military schools are often viewed as a course correction alternative for troubled teens — however that is not the case. Military school is not a solution for out-of-control teens as a form of discipline and alternative education. Often, what parents really seek is a Residential Therapeutic Boarding School.

Morrill, Maine: Military school is a viable option for parents and teens who wish to instill the core values taught within the military. . . leadership, discipline, respect, and accountability. . . in conjunction with a core foundation in education and athletic involvement. Military school is not a solution for parents who seek placement for their struggling, defiant or out-of-control teen. Military schools are prestigious education institutions that offer a more disciplined regimen than a traditional boarding school and are not used as punishment.

Parents who seek an alternative to traditional school or military school for disciplining their teen who engages in defiant behavior, substance use, or emotionally acting out should know that another type of school exists: the Residential Therapeutic Boarding School. These are private schools that offer behavior modification in conjunction with a college prep education in addition to therapeutic interventions. This type of special school instills the same philosophies and values taught in a military school setting such as team building, leadership, responsibility, discipline, respect, self-regulation, and accountability, but without the physically and mentally rigorous regimen that might be too difficult for a troubled teen to manage without addressing the underlying causes of his or her negative behavior.

Residential therapeutic boarding schools have proven to be successful for underachieving and struggling teens. These schools, a number of which offer intensive therapeutic programs from six months to one year in length, are able to provide a safe structured environment for teens to grow and mature while also maintaining or catching up on academic credits. Therapeutic boarding schools like Ironwood Maine School provide an accelerated academic program and intensive therapeutic environment that treats the whole child. Ironwood Maine’s licensed, experienced therapists and academic professionals help resident teens address emotional and behavioral concerns while also achieving an enriched education.

Better Than a Boot Camp or Military School

A therapeutic boarding school is an effective alternative to Boot Camp or Military School programs because their approach preserves safety, dignity and respect while transforming teens into healthy, responsible, disciplined and purpose-driven individuals. Ironwood Maine, for example, through its individualized approach, provides a balance of structure and nurturing along a continuum of therapeutic programming designed to assist each student to achieve more than he or she thought possible. Ironwood Maine clinicians and staff guide teens through a journey of self-discovery where underlying issues that prevented them from succeeding are uncovered, addressed and resolved. As a result, Ironwood Maine teens and their families experience an entirely new level of closeness, respect and cooperation.

Customized Academics Benefit Struggling Teens

Another advantage of choosing a therapeutic boarding school to help the struggling teen as an alternative to military school or boot camp is the quality of the academic program. At a number of therapeutic boarding schools, the academic program is customized to each individual student. Upon arrival, students are given a comprehensive learning style analysis that assists them to both recognize and manage their learning style. Empowered with this new understanding allows students to both advocate for their learning needs while being able to maximize their learning potential.

At Ironwood Maine, the vast array of customized courses coupled with both AP and remedial level gives students the greatest opportunity for academic success.

“Many Ironwood Maine students advance one full grade level during their 24-36 week program,” said Robin Cubberly, Ph.D., Clinical Director and Therapist at Ironwood Maine. “Students are able to earn more credits than usual because they have discovered a new satisfaction and purpose for learning. This desire for learning coupled with the personalized attention to each student provides the support they need to stay focused for the future.”

“Considering that many of our students have not done well academically before coming to Ironwood Maine, it is impressive that more than 90% plan to attend college after completing their program here,” Dr. Cubberly concluded.

Intensive Therapy Highly Successful for Teen Behavior Modification

The therapeutic intervention that occurs in a residential therapeutic boarding school setting allows the teen to develop internal insight that facilitates the development of core values, healthy self-esteem, personal motivation, and a strong sense of responsibility. The importance of working and supporting others is emphasized as a way of living which helps provide a solid foundation for positive interpersonal relationships.

Intensive therapy is the foundation of a therapeutic boarding school’s success in working with troubled and underachieving teens, according to Dr. Cubberly.

“At Ironwood Maine, therapy is founded on the basis of relationships – relationships of trust, truthfulness, confidence and humor. When students are willing to engage in a trusted therapist – then learning, change and growth can begin. Ironwood Maine’s licensed therapists have a broad range of experience and expertise. From dialectical behavioral therapy to the renowned animal assisted therapy and most everything in between, Ironwood Maine’s skilled therapists are both current and competent.”

Therapeutic boarding schools help teens build a solid foundation to ensure academic success, leadership and personal growth in any setting. The development that occurs in a residential therapeutic setting instills the tools and strategies to be successful in a military school setting. For example, teens who have graduated from Ironwood Maine have gone on to military boarding school and military colleges where they have achieved success, said Cubberly. Many Ironwood Maine graduates return year after year to mentor new young students at Ironwood Maine, and have shared their thoughts and experiences in the Ironwood Maine Mentor Blog.

About Ironwood Maine Therapeutic Boarding School

Ironwood Maine is a one-of-a-kind combination of a traditional boarding school and therapeutic treatment program that specializes in working with struggling, underachieving teens whose behavior is often out of control. Through an extensive and customized therapeutic program and academic curriculum, Ironwood Maine helps teens find greater success than they have ever experienced. Ironwood Maine’s mission is to give hope to parents who are concerned about their children by helping their teen become healthy, happy and responsible. For more information on the Ironwood Maine program, call toll-free 1-877-496-2463 or go to


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