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A Different Kind of School Designed to Meet the Needs of Struggling Teens


Family conflict, divorce, the death of a family member, or a parent leaving on military deployment, — can cause stress in teens leading to problems with behavior, mood, academic or social functioning. Struggling teens often exhibit behaviors such as defiance toward authority, disrespect and anger toward parents and family, and disregard of rules. They may also become involved with a new peer group that has a negative influence. If your teen has an emotional or behavioral problem or needs help coping with a difficult life event, what can you do to help your child?

Dealing with a troubled or out-of-control teen often feels overwhelming. Many parents have tried everything they can think of including counseling for the teen before resorting to consideration of a therapeutic boarding school. However, residential therapeutic boarding schools have been proven to achieve success in changing the lives of struggling teens. Many offer 24/7 structured treatment programs and therapies specifically designed to help teens get back on the right track.

What is a therapeutic boarding school and why are they effective?
A therapeutic boarding school combines a traditional boarding school experience with therapeutic programming for behavioral and emotional issues. Therapeutic programs teach students academic, social, and life skills to help teens achieve more than they thought possible.

This new breed of school is designed to remove the teen from his or her environment and to offset the many distractions, temptations and challenges of growing up in today’s world. Many teens need a safe, yet structured setting to positively refocus their attention, goals and values.

A therapeutic boarding school can be very effective because the teen is immersed in a total academic and therapeutic environment with more structure, support and resources than the teen has ever experienced. This vast array of services coupled with individualized treatment and academic plans, allows teens to succeed where previous difficulty or failure have been documented at a traditional school setting.

While each teen is unique, therapy should be customized to meet individual needs

Therapeutic boarding school programs for teens should be individualized to meet the needs of each teen. Many teens achieve success in a wilderness setting where therapy often takes place outdoors instead of traditional indoor “talk therapy.” Therapists now work with teens during trail rides, hiking, camping, caring for animals, and walks in the woods. The length of the treatment program will also vary; some students may graduate in six months and other teens may take nine months or longer to complete treatment and self-paced academics. Each student should progress at their own rate as they learn and develop skills.

For teens diagnosed with behavioral and emotional disorders, the use of horses and dogs is gaining popularity as a therapeutic treatment option. Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Canine Therapy has been used successfully with teens since the 1960s. Those who are familiar with equine assisted therapy and canine therapy programs recognize and understand the power of horses and dogs to influence young people in incredibly powerful ways. Often teens with trust issues develop close bonds with an animal after taking responsibility for its care and well-being. Animal therapy has been proven to increase communication skills, self-discipline and positive behaviors, as well as improving a teen’s self- esteem.

A therapeutic environment and academics go hand in hand
Many teens diagnosed with emotional or behavioral disorders have fallen behind in school due to lack of motivation, absences, and other factors such as abuse of alcohol and other substances.
Various therapeutic boarding schools not only offer treatment for behavioral and emotional problems, but also provide an educational program, allowing the teen to continue to earn credits required for graduation. Since schooling is a year round effort and the curriculum is individualized, many teens are able to not only keep up with their current academic workload but are able to earn back credits and complete courses previously failed.

The approach of a top notch Therapeutic Boarding School is geared around ‘whole child education’ where the focus is a delicate balance of academics, healthy self-esteem, personal responsibility and appropriate interpersonal relationships. To learn more about therapeutic boarding schools, call National Youth Network at 949-858-3265 or visit

This article is provided by Ironwood School and RTC.

About Ironwood School and Residential Treatment Center (RTC) - Ironwood is a new kind of boarding school that has emerged to meet the unique needs of today’s teens — 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 out of control.


 Ironwood School
 Treatment Center
 Troubled Teens

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