Schools for Troubled Teens

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Schools for Troubled Teens

Schools for troubled teens provide parents with support and guidance in areas that can be difficult to navigate. For parents of troubled teens the answer to which school is the best fit for their child isn’t immediately clear. Academic and social pressures in non-therapeutic high schools often present challenges for teens in recovery.

Therapeutic high school programs can be extremely beneficial to your teen’s academic and recovery growth process. Finding the appropriate program can take some time, but there are guidelines that can provide real help for parents who need to make this difficult choice.

Asking for Help

The best advice a parent can follow when dealing with a troubled teen is to step back, relax and ask for help from an expert. Teens can act up and act out for a variety of reasons, including:

Each one of these issues requires different treatment, and sometimes, teens can have many issues at the same time. Some teens are willing and able to articulate their emotions, but others hold back as a result of fear or shame. Parents should ask for help from an expert to find the best school program for their teen and his/her specific needs.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) suggests that teens who display severe behavioral issues should see a mental health professional.

To make a proper diagnosis, the clinician will ask the teen to answer some questions and take a variety of tests. The therapist will ask the teen to describe his/her current mental state and thoughts about the future. If they suspect drug use, the therapist will ask the teen to submit hair or urine samples.

Although it may sound intrusive, having your troubled teen see a clinical professional is very important. At the end of this process, parents have a better idea of the issues that are impacting their teen, and can use this information to choose the proper path forward. The therapist may also be able to advise the family on appropriate treatment.

Preliminary Investigation

According to the Federal Trade Commission, most inpatient school treatment programs are not regulated by the federal government. As a result, their programs are not periodically inspected for quality and conformance. It’s important to ask the following questions before enrolling your teen:

These are good questions to ask:

  • Is your facility licensed by the state?
  • Which academic program do you offer?
  • Can you provide me with the credentials of the teachers?
  • What specific issues does your program treat?
  • How do you discipline participants?

Financial Cost

Costs can vary dramatically between programs, and sometimes, insurance doesn’t cover the costs. Cost is a factor for most families when trying to decide which program is best for their child.

It’s important to remember that a facility that is inexpensive or close to home might be convenient, but it may not be the best program for long-term recovery. It’s always best to choose a program based on its credentials and dedication to recovery, rather than cost or location.

A Word About Tough Love

Many sober high schools pride themselves on providing a strict “tough love” environment. This approach was once quite popular in the field of adolescent therapy, but it has since fallen out of favor. Chicago Medicine experts found that tough love doesn’t always work if the goal is to change long-term behavior.

In the field of addiction, tough love can be punitive and cruel. People who abuse substances cause significant chemical changes in their brains that make it nearly impossible for them to stop using the substances without help. Often, the addicts desperately want to quit, but they’re simply unable to. Punishing them for something they cannot do on their own is counterproductive. They need help to overcome their addiction through clinical expertise and unconditional love. People with mental illnesses benefit from this approach as well, as they certainly may not be able to control their behavior. They may not even understand that their behavior is unacceptable in some way.

Finding the Best Option for Your Teen

Tough love is not the best approach for long-term recovery for troubled teens. Schools for troubled teens that employ this method are not the best choice for teens with mental health or substance abuse issues. Cruel and unusual punishment is not the goal of a therapeutic recovery program. Recovery and long-term behavior modification are the goals. Choosing facilities that employ empathy, clinical expertise, and unconditional love will be the most effective.

If you have questions about schools for troubled teens, or would like information on our teen treatment programs, please contact us. We are here to help.

Image courtesy of Ryan Tauss via Unsplash.