The Alternatives To Military Schools

What are the best choices for a parent who has a pre-teen or adolescent child with behavioral and academic problems? There are short-term therapeutic wilderness programs, also known as outdoor therapy programs, and therapeutic boarding schools, also known as emotional growth schools, that will address your child's particular behavior issues while helping them catch up with school work and credits. Sometimes a single-sex environment is the best for your child - especially girls - like an all girl's boarding school.

This two-pronged approach addresses a troubled teen as a whole human being rather than as a "bad child" who just needs a little discipline. In researching such programs, parents should ask about the clinical approach of the program, how therapists and teens interact, what sort of activities do they use to effectively address behavioral and emotional issues, and how they deal with academic issues (particularly if your child has a learning challenge or disability). Many programs have exciting elements, such as trips to other countries, wilderness components, and great outdoor activities.

A structured boarding school environment can often help teenagers struggling with motivational and self-esteem issues. For students who need social or emotional guidance in addition to academic help, therapeutic boarding schools can work with troubled teens to permanently change negative behaviors and self-perceptions. With a nurturing, supportive curriculum and group and individual therapy, therapeutic boarding schools facilitate emotional healing. By receiving constant support and feedback about their emotional and academic progress, struggling teens develop a brighter, more positive sense of themselves as they grow into healthy, productive young adults.

Therapeutic boarding schools operate on a rolling admissions schedule, accepting students year-round as required. Prior to admission, students are evaluated so that each program can set up the necessary therapeutic and academic service that will best help the student reach his personal and educational goals.

Whether clinically or experientially based, therapeutic boarding school programs and residential treatment centers provide troubled teenagers a choice and opportunity to move past previous failures, address negative behaviors and improve their lives and their futures.

If you are looking for a shorter term solution, search for "outdoor therapy" or "outdoor therapeutic wilderness programs". Costs for such programs range from $8,000-$14,000 for a short-term wilderness school (28-35 days) and $4000-$6300/month for boarding schools.

Another option for parents are"working ranches" with a therapeutic approach. These programs emphasize a strong work ethic and taking responsibility for one's behavior and actions.Turn-About Ranch is a long-established program that uses such innovative therapeutic tools as equine-assisted psychotherapy.

Foreign-based Programs: A Special Warning

Parents should be particularly cautious about programs whose home base is in a foreign country, particularly if that country is considered "developing." These schools are often bound by much different rules and regulations than those in the United States and you are often at the mercy of those rules once your child is out of your hands. Be sure to research such programs, looking for media articles on incidents or complaints from past participants. The U.S. State Department has issued a formal warning about such programs.

Fast Facts About Adolescents

Almost 30 percent of teens in the United States (over 5.7 million people) are estimated to be involved in school bullying. In a recent national survey of students in grades 6 to 10, 13 percent reported bullying others, 11 percent reported being the target of school bullies, and another 6 percent said they bullied others and were bullied themselves.

Alternatives to Military Schools


Turn-About Ranch
Turn-About Ranch is a working cattle ranch for troubled teens that differs from typical residential treatment centers for troubled teens because it values action not just talk. The Ranch takes defiant teens out of their comfort zone and gets them excited about the natural environment, learning, and their physical and mental capabilities. They learn that, in the real world, rewards come through dedication and hard work. Turn-About Ranch has been featured in several European television series, including Brat Camp. To learn if Turn-About Ranch can help your teen, call 866.858.4883 .