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Differences Between Therapeutic Boarding Schools & Residential Treatment Centers

What is the difference between a Therapeutic Boarding School (TBS) and a Residential Treatment Center (RTC)?

What is the best option for my teenager?

The short answer is: it depends on the state and how the state licenses residential programming.

There is no national standard and each of our fifty states have the responsibility to set their own licensure requirements for private-pay residential programming; many states divide up the enforcement between numerous governmental departments and some states do not even regulate private-pay residential care. The scope and specifics of state regulations vary greatly, and some states do not require independent licensure at all.

What these programs all have in common is that they are all addressing physical, emotional, behavioral, familial, social, and intellectual/academic development; it is how that is addressed which differentiates between the TBS or RTC.

RTC’s typically have more clinical care than a TBS, however we have also seen emotional growth programs that have a strong clinical foundation. We suggest you interview the program/school that you believe best fits your teen’s emotional needs (as well as what you can financially afford).

We also remind parents not to limit their search by proximity to their home. What’s most important is the best program for their emotional wellness, with the reminder that this is only a small part of their entire life. Also note that parents will be visiting usually bi-monthly – it’s not like a traditional boarding school where you are there every weekend or he/she is coming home regularly. It’s important to allow the program to do their work.

If you are determined to keep them close to home, keep in mind, this can also increase their flight plan in that program since they are familiar with that area.

We always remind parents to search for the following:

  • Accredited academics
  • Credentialed clinical support
  • Enrichment programs (such as animal assisted therapy, music, arts, sports – something your child is passionate about).

Is a TBS right for your teen? Some questions to ask yourself.

Contact us for information on therapeutic boarding schools around the country.

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