What are therapeutic boarding schools?  

Therapeutic boarding schools are residential schools for teens that have struggled to function in their home or school environment. Therapeutic boarding schools – sometimes abbreviated TBS – are places that students can continue their education while they pursue therapeutic support. Often times, students have fallen behind academically due to their emotional struggles. They are designed to help heal these emotional wounds while also getting students back on track academically.

At a TBS, teens have the opportunity to get their educational and therapeutic needs met in a residential setting. By living on campus, therapeutic boarding school students are able to receive more programming then they would in a traditional day school setting.

While the term “therapeutic boarding schools” can be unfamiliar or confusing to some, it may be easier to visualize what a therapeutic boarding school feels like instead. They are similar to traditional boarding schools, with therapeutic support and also usually smaller in size. Therapeutic schools have a welcoming and home-like feel, while attending to the educational and clinical needs of students.

therapeutic boarding schools

In addition to exceptional academic and therapeutic programming, therapeutic boarding schools provide students with a full and diverse residential life program. This is to address the developmental needs of teenagers: teens need increased social activities in order to develop independence and healthy relationships outside of their immediate family. Residential life  programs typically includes off-campus activities, cultural and social events, and service learning opportunities.

Therapeutic boarding schools also offer family programming, in order to work through unhealthy family dynamics and heal old patterns. Family programming typically includes distance therapy sessions, in-person sessions, and home visits (where the student goes home to visit for a few days or up to a week).  

With 24/7 support, students that attend therapeutic boarding schools are able to make improvement more quickly than they would in traditional outpatient therapy. Even with this expedited progress, it’s still important for students to complete the entire program at their therapeutic boarding school. The average length of stay can range anywhere from 12-18 months, depending on individual treatment needs and goals.

Who do therapeutic boarding schools help?

Therapeutic boarding schools serve a range of ages and concerns. While there are some therapeutic boarding schools available for middle school students, the majority of therapeutic boarding schools are designed for high schoolers. They typically serve 14-18 year-olds and grades 9-12. While there are a few co-ed therapeutic boarding schools, most therapeutic schools are single-gender (all-girls or all-boys). This allows schools to tailor their programming, interventions, and therapeutic modalities to best meet the specific needs of their population. This also extends to the classroom: teachers can utilize more effective learning strategies in a single-gender learning environment.

therapeutic boarding schools

Therapeutic boarding schools work with students facing a spectrum of emotional, social, and behavioral issues. Some of these issues include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood disorders
  • Body Image issues
  • Learning differences/disabilities
  • Trauma
  • Attachment issues
  • Unhealthy relationships
  • Adoption issues
  • Family conflict
  • Social struggles
  • Poor choices/risk-taking behaviors
  • Self-harm or suicidal ideation
  • School refusal
  • Non-compliance/defiance

This list is just a sampling of some of the issues that therapeutic boarding schools help with. Regardless of your child’s needs, there is a therapeutic boarding school that can help!

A TBS typically attracts students based on their ideal student – or the issues they are most successful at working with. Because of this, students that attend a therapeutic boarding school are not limited to one geographic region; students come from all over the country to attend the right therapeutic boarding school.

While therapeutic boarding schools are aimed at helping the teenagers that attend, a teen’s family members are also helped through that student’s healing and growth. With family therapy and regular family involvement, parents and siblings are able to grow alongside their teen.

Choosing Solstice West For Your Teen

Solstice West is a leading program for girls ages 14-18. Our premier program provides a nurturing environment for your teen as she heals and grows. At Solstice West, we believe students heal best in the context of healthy relationships. Using this relationship-based approach, our students are able to achieve lasting change.

We offer an innovative combination of clinical sophistication with experiential and hands-on modalities. Our therapeutic boarding school empowers students with our Hero’s Journey curriculum, which helps reframe each student’s individual path through this time as an empowered journey of self-discovery.

At our all-girls therapeutic boarding school, we have a holistic approach to care that takes into consideration every individual student’s therapeutic, academic, social, family, physical, and spiritual needs. This whole person approach help students understand who they are and how to live an authentic, healthy life.

Related to this comprehensive approach is our multidisciplinary treatment team. By utilizing an interdisciplinary treatment approach, we are able to use individualized strategies across multiple contexts that are more effective and productive. Solstice West is made up of a team of professionals that you can trust. Our caring, connected, and dedicated staff members are there for your daughter every step of the way.

With our family focus at Solstice West, we work hard to reconnect the family system through regular therapy, family programming, and home visits. Home visits are designed for students to be able to enjoy family time together while also practicing effective coping strategies and new communication tools.

Thought having your daughter away from home may be difficult at first, many of our alumni parents tell us that having their daughter attend Solstice West was the best decision they’ve ever made for their family. With our premier therapeutic boarding school, Solstice West offers teenage girls a transformational experience that leads to lasting change.

Academic Programming at Solstice West

As one of the best therapeutic boarding schools, Solstice West offers a college preparatory academic curriculum within a traditional learning environment. This setting ensures that our students are ready to transition on to whatever comes next: a traditional boarding school, a local high school, or college. With our accredited academic program, Solstice West students can graduate with a diploma from the state of Utah; credits will also transfer easily to a student’s next high school due to our AdvancED accreditation status.

Solstice West offers each of our students the opportunity to prepare for and take college entrance exams. This includes test preparation materials and classes for both ACT and SAT. Solstice West students consistently score above state and national benchmarks on these tests! And since the majority of our students are college-bound, we also assist with the college application process and the ever-important application essay! The curriculum at our therapeutic boarding school also is designed to support the typical college application criteria requirements. If students need to do credit recovery in certain subjects, our year-round school calendar supports this need as well. Girls can get caught up or even get ahead in school at Solstice West!

With our small classroom sizes – typically 6 students per class – teachers are able to get to know each student as a learner and a whole person. Our certified teachers utilize multiple learning styles in each classroom. This personalized learning experience helps Solstice West students realize their academic potential!

Our leading therapeutic boarding school also offers Executive Functioning and Study Strategies classes taught by our certified special education teacher. This additional support for students that need it allows them to gain the skills necessary to be successful in the classroom, both while at and after Solstice West.

We understand that when a teenager’s primary job is to be successful in school and if they haven’t had that experience, it can contribute to feelings of low self-esteem. Within the school at Solstice West, we are able to shift that narrative to a positive and successful learning experience, resulting in increased confidence, self-esteem, and instilling a lifelong love of learning!

Therapeutic Programming at Solstice West  

Using a relationship based approach, Solstice West is a therapeutic boarding school that helps students achieve lasting change. While many therapeutic boarding schools use a system of compliance based rewards to encourage behavioral shifts, Solstice West believes that growth occurs through understanding, connection, and authenticity.


With a clinical focus on trauma, attachment, and loss, we use this relationship-based approach at Solstice West to heal and change from within. Coupled with research-proven therapeutic modalities, our therapeutic boarding school gives students the tools they need to thrive. Some of these evidence-based practices include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT)
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
  • EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)
  • Somatic Experiencing (SE)
  • Adventure Therapy
  • Art Therapy

These approaches are as diverse as our students’ needs: we want to find the therapeutic methods and modalities that work best for each of our students. Having this wide range of approaches available helps each student find therapeutic success more quickly than they would in traditional, outpatient therapy. We use these different modalities in weekly individual, group, and family therapy, during both in-office sessions and experiential activities.

With weekly Adventure Therapy, our therapeutic boarding school provides students with the opportunity to heal, learn, and serve with experiential activities. Utah provides an exceptional backdrop for all sorts of outdoor activities, including camping, hiking, white water rafting, snowshoeing, skiing and snowboarding, canoeing and kayaking, and mountain biking. By finding success in these new and challenging experiences, girls are able to increase their self-esteem while practicing communication and coping skills.

At Solstice West, we also have a strong family-focused approach. This means that our relational work extends to the first relationships your child ever had: the relationships with her family. Through weekly family therapy calls and quarterly on-site family intensives, we reconnect the family system in a healthy and loving way.

We help families from:

Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii,
Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts,Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi,
Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina,North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont,Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming