Schools for troubled teens are programs for adolescents that are struggling in their day-to-day lives. At a school for troubled teens, students and their parents are able to get the help they need to move through this difficult time with professional support. Schools for troubled teens are often boarding schools or residential programs, meaning that students live on-site while attending classes. By providing a different location for students to attend school and also get therapeutic support, teens are removed from the environment that contributed to their negative thinking and behavioral patterns.
In this new space, teens are free from the distractions of home and encouraged to pursue healthier habits and behaviors. Troubled teens are able to learn about themselves in a safe and structured setting, with a built-in support network of therapists, teachers, and peers. Because students live on site at schools for troubled teens, these schools also provide age-appropriate social activities for students. These activities are often dual-purpose: getting off campus to meet the social needs of students while also providing some sort of therapeutic benefit. Of course, there are plenty of opportunities for students to just have fun! Specific social and off-campus activities vary from school to school, and this is great information to ask about when learning about schools for troubled teens. It will give you a feel for the culture and also the appropriateness of fit for your own child.
Schools for troubled teens also provide family support or family therapy, in order to help the family system grow and heal along with the teen that is in treatment. This family therapy is typically some combination of distance and in-person therapy sessions. Sometimes there will also be a recommendation for parents or family members to pursue individual counseling to aid in this process.
Who do schools for troubled teens help?
Schools for troubled teens help girls and assigned female at birth and boys ages 13-18 that are struggling with emotional, academic, or behavioral issues. While there are co-ed schools for troubled teens, single-gender (all-girls and assigned female at birth or all-boys) schools are far more common. This is because the types of issues that teens are facing show up similarly with their same-sex peers. There are many different reasons that an adolescent might attend a school for troubled teens. There is typically not one single reason for this type of placement, but a combination of different factors. These may include emotional, academic, or behavioral issues such as:
Trauma (or PTSD)
Underperforming in school
Loss of interest in school or extra-curricular activities
Learning differences or disabilities
Impulsive or risk-taking behaviors
Substance use or abuse
Many of these issues overlap multiple categories. A good example is depression: depression may show up as a depressed mood at home, loss of interest at school, and isolating both socially and behaviorally.
For teens that have mental health issues or struggles that overlap multiple areas of their life, a residential school for troubled teens is the ideal solution. Because schools for troubled teens care for all facets of a teen’s life, they are the most well-equipped places to receive comprehensive help and support.
Schools for troubled teens also help the parents, caregivers, siblings, and family members of the teen in treatment. With regular family therapy as well as in-person family programs, schools for troubled needs can help reconnect the family system.
Why choose a residential school for your struggling teen over day school?
Parents thinking about a school for troubled teens are also likely looking at day school options. While both have their strengths, there are some key differences that are important to consider:
For teens that are trying to break bad habits or patterns, it’s important that they receive consistent and continuous support around these efforts. While a day school can provide that level of support during the traditional school day, the after-school hours and weekends are left unstructured. Having a consistent approach improves positive outcomes, and this is one of the benefits that a residential school for troubled teens provides over a day school.
A day school can offer academic programming that is on par with that of a residential school for troubled teens. And though certain day schools may also offer therapeutic support, the amount of individual, group, and family therapy that residential schools for troubled teens can provide is significant. (Typically one individual and one family session per week plus multiple groups are standard for a residential school for troubled teens.)
While day schools provide well-rounded curricula, they cannot provide the residential-level of collaboration between all the providers that a student needs. At a residential school for troubled teens, this interdisciplinary treatment team typically includes therapists, teachers, psychiatrists, residential, and nursing staff, as well as any specialists.
At the end of the day, it’s about finding a setting that can truly meet the needs of your child. Residential schools for troubled teens offer more resources for students to reach their therapeutic, emotional, academic, familial, and social goals.
As one of the best schools for troubled teens, Solstice West has helped hundreds of teens – and their families – achieve healing and lasting change. Solstice West is known for our relationship-based approach, which utilizes a variety of evidence-based modalities to support our students as they move through their own journey in a safe and healthy way. We work with girls and assigned female at birth ages 14-18 that are struggling with a variety of issues and specialize in working with girls and assigned female at birth that internalize their emotional distress.
To provide a framework for each student’s journey at Solstice West, we have developed the Hero’s Journey curriculum. This structure helps students develop an internal locus of control while also helping them understand that getting support along the way is a necessary part of the journey. With the Hero’s Journey, students begin to understand that they have the ability to shift the outcome of their future and come to see themselves as the hero of their own story.
The Hero’s Journey curriculum is closely tied to the master treatment plan as well as the multidisciplinary treatment team. By using this comprehensive approach at our school for troubled teens, we help students achieve lasting change and all areas of their lives. Students are encouraged to draw connections between their emotions and physical health (the mind-body connection), to recognize their patterns in all contexts, and to learn how to advocate for themselves.
At Solstice West, Adventure Therapy is a cornerstone of our program and has been from the beginning! Not only are these experiential activities fun and engaging, they also provide real benefits: increased self-esteem, improved confidence, better communication skills. With Adventure Therapy, we are helping our students overcome challenges in the here and now, building resilience and their belief in themselves that they will be able to do the same in the future.
Solstice West’s school for troubled teens is a special place of healing and hope. Our compassionate and nurturing team of dedicated professionals helps each student begin anew, believe in herself, and become the hero of their own life.
Academic Programming at Solstice West
Solstice West is a leading school for troubled teens that serves grades 9-12. Our college-preparatory academic curriculum provides the appropriate amount of intellectual challenge, coupled with a caring and supportive teaching team. All of our teachers are certified by the State of Utah, and the school is accredited by AdvancED – ensuring all credits earned will transfer to other schools.
Solstice West students can also graduate from high school with us and transition to college! We offer college entrance exam prep materials and classes as part of our curriculum and are dedicated to helping students prepare for these important tests. And it shows: Solstice West students consistently score well above state and national averages on college entrance exams.
The academic program at Solstice West is designed to feel like a traditional classroom environment so that students feel comfortable and well prepared to transition onto what comes next. With small class sizes and experiential, hands-on learning opportunities, we have cultivated an engaging classroom culture at Solstice West.
This is in no small part due to our talented teaching staff! The teachers at our school for troubled teens are dedicated professionals that want to help our students learn and grow, both in and out of the classroom. Our academic team also works closely with the clinical team to ensure that each student’s individualized academic plan works in tandem with their therapeutic treatment plan. With these plans and one-on-one attention, students to experience academic success. This academic success leads to increased self-esteem, self-efficacy, and confidence.
At Solstice West, our goal is to help students achieve healthy, lasting changes in their lives. Our academic program does this through effective teaching and learning strategies in a caring setting that nurtures critical thinking and fosters creativity. Students come to us as troubled teens and struggling in school; they leave Solstice West as confident young people that are active learners that are ready to take on the world! In the decades we have been helping troubled teens, we see these beautiful transformations occur every day.