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Compare Treatment Programs for Your Struggling Teen

Comparing Residential Treatment Facilities for Troubled Teens

Teen Military Schools & Boot Camps vs Therapeutic Christian Boarding Schools

Nearly 1 in 7 youth will run away from home, around 20% of teens will experience a serious mental disorder in their life, and approximately 50% have misused drugs at least once in their lifetime. It’s not uncommon for youth to struggle with obeying authority or with learning how to cope with trauma from their past.

If your teenager is struggling, they are not alone and neither are you. If therapy has been tried and little to no progress has been made, there are several residential troubled teen programs that could benefit your child. It is a difficult decision to send your child away, but these programs can give teens the chance to have a fresh start away from negative influences. Your child could have the chance to form a new perspective as he or she explores and interacts in a new environment.

There are several placement options for your troubled teen. These programs include teen boot camps, residential treatment facilities, military schools, and therapeutic Christian boarding schools. Each option has its own strengths and must be weighed carefully to fit your child’s situation.

 

Teen Boot Camps

Teen boot camps are typically military-style programs. They are often short-term and very physically demanding. Most boot camps for teenagers are state-run and mandated by the courts in place of juvenile jail. Boot camps are rigid in structure and are often meant to frighten campers into conforming to rules. If your child doesn’t respect authority, there will be very little leniency.

Due to its intensity, this type of camp is not recommended for people with a history of abuse or trauma in their past. Most boot camps don’t deal with the underlying issues involved with a teen’s rebellious behavior, so it is recommended to have a good mental-health follow up system in place once the camp is completed.

 

Residential Treatment Facility

Residential treatment facilities are specifically designed for troubled youth. There are a wide variety of treatment facilities available, and they are often focused on common struggles. For example, some teen treatment centers focus on addictions, eating disorders, problematic sexual behavior, or mental health issues. Residential treatment centers for teenagers provide counseling specifically for your child’s struggles and a predictable, structured environment.

As other residential facilities, one potential drawback is that it can be difficult to transition back home. For example, while many substance abusers find freedom during their time away, they often fall back into old habits once back in familiar environments. However, this can be alleviated with quality mental health follow up care.

 

Military Schools

Military schools are an academic boarding school with a military structure. They provide discipline and a structured environment for your teen. These schools are more specifically catered toward people who may be seeking a military career. Those who graduate may receive an advanced enlistment rank if they join the military. However, the majority of students do not go on to join the military after their time at the boarding school.

There are two options for military schools, a boys and girls military school, or a boys school. If you think the opposite sex could be a distraction for your teenager, this may be something to consider. One of biggest strengths of a military school is that it prepares students for college. They typically have strong academic programs, and the vast majority of graduates go on to college. The structured environment could be helpful for students with ADHD or who are struggling academically.

One drawback of military schools is that they have little tolerance when rules are broken, and most military schools aren’t specifically designed for teens who are in crisis, or have shown signs of rebellion. They are a better fit for students who have the mindset to better themselves.

 

Therapeutic Christian Boarding Schools

Therapeutic Christian boarding schools are similar to residential treatment facilities. They are specifically designed for troubled teens dealing with a wide range of struggles and have a faith-based component to their environment and treatments. The faith based approach can make the difference between temporary change and change that can last for a lifetime. Their staff members are all people of faith, and provide godly examples for the teens to follow. They are respectful of the students’ beliefs and will not “shove their faith down someone’s throat,” as they believe this can cause more harm than good.

They also take a holistic approach to counseling. In addition to individual and group counseling for the student, they also have weekly counseling sessions with the family to encourage lasting change on all sides. Their goal is to help families restore relationships, and to facilitate healthy communication.

Often times, therapeutic boarding schools for troubled teens also offer service opportunities for the students, which have been shown to reduce depression and increase self confidence.

As with the other residential facilities, one of the drawbacks could include your teen being exposed to new problems through his or her peers. However, with proper staff supervision, this can be prevented or dealt with in a healthy way. Instead of being a negative experience, these interactions can serve as an example of positive conflict resolution and provide your teen with skills that will follow them into adulthood.

 

The Best Residential Treatment Facility

While both the boot camps and military schools have strengths in teaching children obedience, they aren’t specifically focused on addressing deeper struggles. Residential treatment facilities, like therapeutic Christian boarding schools, address the specific issues a teen is struggling with. If you or your child is a Christian, the faith based component of a therapeutic Christian boarding school could make all the difference in your teenager’s life.

The therapeutic Christian boarding school also appears to offer the most holistic approach; they include the families in their treatment plans, their focus on service and giving back helps students think outside of themselves in a world of self-gratification and social media, and the faith based component allows teens the chance to discover a greater reality. Whatever program you choose for your child, these facilities are designed to help you in your journey toward providing hope and healing for your teen, and your family.

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1 “Homeless and Runaway Youth.” National Conference of State Legislatures, 14 Apr. 2016, www.ncsl.org/research/human-services/homeless-and-runaway-youth.aspx.

2 “National Survey Confirms That Youth Are Disproportionately Affected by Mental Disorders.” National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 27 Sept. 2010, www.nimh.nih.gov/news/science-news/2010/national-survey-confirms-that-youth-are-disproportionately-affected-by-mental-disorders.shtml.

3 “Monitoring the Future Survey: High School and Youth Trends.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, Dec. 2017, www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/monitoring-future-survey-high-school-youth-trends