Therapeutic boarding school – Wikipedia

A therapeutic boarding school is a residential school offering therapy for students with emotional or behavioral issues.[1]


The National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs listed 140 schools and programs as of 2005.[1][2] Therapeutic boarding schools aim to promote growth and learning for their students in a long-term model.[3][4][5][6][7][8][non-primary source needed]


Therapeutic boarding schools may be accredited by an academic accreditation body, such as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, AdvanceED divisions, and National Independent Private Schools Association.[9]

The National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP) is a non-profit association of state-licensed or nationally-accredited therapeutic programs.[10]

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) advises that several independent nonprofit organizations, such as the Joint Commission (JACHO), the Council on Accreditation (COA), and the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) accredit mental health programs and providers.[11][12]


Some organizations, such as the Bazelon Center question the appropriateness and efficacy of group placements, citing failure of some programs to address problems in the child’s home and community environment, lack of mental health services, and substandard educational programs. Concerns specifically related to private therapeutic boarding schools include inappropriate discipline techniques, medical neglect, restricted communication (such as lack of access to child protection and advocacy hotlines), and lack of monitoring and regulation. [13]

From late 2007 through 2008, a coalition of medical and psychological organizations that included members of Alliance for the Safe, Therapeutic and Appropriate use of Residential Treatment (ASTART) and the Community Alliance for the Ethical Treatment of Youth (CAFETY), provided testimony and support that led to the creation of the Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act of 2008 by the United States Congress Committee on Education and Labor.[14][15]

The U.S. Government Accountability Office Report has reported on negligence at residential treatment programs including wilderness therapy, boot camps, and academies:

GAO reviewed thousands of allegations of abuse, some of which involved death, at residential treatment programs across the country and in American-owned and American-operated facilities abroad between the years 1990 and 2007. Allegations included reports of abuse and death recorded by state agencies and the Department of Health and Human Services, allegations detailed in pending civil and criminal trials with hundreds of plaintiffs, and claims of abuse and death that were posted on the Internet. GAO did not attempt to evaluate the benefits of residential treatment programs or verify the facts regarding the thousands of allegations it reviewed.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Story, Louise (August 17, 2005), “A Business Built on the Troubles of Teenagers”, The New York Times
  2. ^ Earl, Trevor; Wanlass, Janine (April 10, 2017). “Working Towards Developing Practice Standards For the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs”. Journal of Therapeutic Schools and Programs. 8 (1): 9. doi:10.19157/JTSP.issue.08.01.10. ISSN 2469-3030.
  3. ^ Thomas, Bratter (2011). “Compassionate confrontation psychotherapy: Working with gifted but self-destructive adolescents in a therapeutic boarding school”. Adolescent Psychiatry. 1 (3): 227–234. doi:10.2174/2210676611101030227.
  4. ^ Behrens, Ellen; Santa, John; Gass, Michael (2010). “The Evidence Base for Private Therapeutic Schools, Residential Programs, and Wilderness Therapy Programs”. Journal of Therapeutic Schools and Programs. 4 (1). ISSN 2469-3030.
  5. ^ Matter, James (2006). “Solution-Focused Therapy with Adolescents in Residential Treatment”. Journal of Therapeutic Schools and Programs. 1 (2): 137–152. doi:10.19157/JTSP.issue.01.02.07. ISSN 2469-3030.
  6. ^ Shapiro, Valerie (2001–2002). “Is Long-Term Residential Treatment Effective for Adolescents? A Treatment Outcome Study” (PDF). Colgate University Journal of the Sciences. 34.
  7. ^ Behrens, Ellen; Satterfield, Kristin (August 12, 2006). “Report of Findings from a Multi-Center Study of Youth Outcomes in Private Residential Treatment” (PDF). Presented at the 114th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association. Retrieved February 24, 2018.
  8. ^ NATSAP. “NATSAP Principles”. Retrieved February 25, 2018.
  9. ^ NATSAP. “Selecting a Program”. Retrieved February 24, 2018.
  10. ^ NATSAP. “Importance of Oversight” (PDF). Retrieved February 24, 2018.
  11. ^ University of South Florida and the Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. “Alliance for the Safe, Therapeutic and Appropriate use of Residential Treatment” (PDF).
  12. ^ Federal Trade Commission (July 2008). “Residential Treatment Programs for Teens”. Retrieved February 24, 2018.
  13. ^ U.S. Supreme Court to Decide Forest Grove v. T.A.: Parents Should Win, But Bazelon Center Opposes Therapeutic Boarding Schools (PDF), Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, archived from the original (PDF) on May 21, 2009, retrieved May 1, 2009
  14. ^ Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act of 2008, Official bill language from the U.S. Congress, archived from the original on December 29, 2008, retrieved May 1, 2009
  15. ^ Friedman, Robert M.; Pinto, Allison; Behar, Lenore; Bush, Nicki; Chirolla, Amberly; Epstein, Monica; Green, Amy; et al. (2006). “Unlicensed residential programs: The next challenge in protecting youth”. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. 76 (3): 295–303. doi:10.1037/0002-9432.76.3.295. PMID 16981808.
  16. ^ United States Government Accountability Office (October 10, 2007). “Residential Treatment Programs: Concerns Regarding Abuse and Death in Certain Programs for Troubled Youth” (PDF).

Further reading[edit]

  • Kenneth R. Rosen (2021). Troubled: The Failed Promise of America’s Behavioral Treatment Programs. Little A. ISBN 978-1542007887.