For parents with a troubled teen living at home, residential treatment can feel like a last resort. Yet there comes a point when a troubled teen needs more help than parents, even the best parents, can provide at home. Catholic boarding school or other Christian boarding schools are an option some families, especially those with deep religious convictions, look for when choosing an option for their troubled youth.
What are the Warning Signs of Problems
Before enrolling your child in residential treatment such as a Catholic boarding school, you must first know how to spot the symptoms that your troubled teen needs help. Some warning signs that you have a troubled youth on your hand include:
- Withdrawing form family and friends
- Lying becoming a habit
- Extreme mood swings without a clear cause
- Spending time with new friends who are not a good influence
- Drug abuse
- Extreme changes in behavior or personality
- Emotional outbursts
If you are noticing these kinds of concerns with your teenager, then it may be time for more intervention.
What Catholic Boarding Schools Offer
Christian and Catholic boarding school options offer a structured environment where teens get religious counseling and support in a residential environment. Many double as high schools, so students are educated in academic subjects while also addressing their problem behaviors.
Many religious boarding schools focus on spiritual health. They present religious theology and instruction with the hope that the biblical training will change the heart of students. Teenagers are involved in a highly structured program that includes religious instruction and counseling.
Most religious boarding schools aren’t designed primarily to deal with troubled teens. While they may accept students with behavior problems, their primary focus is on delivering religious instruction. Many have a strong focus on academics.
So what happens when a parent sends their troubled youth to this environment? If religious instruction does not create the desired change, the staff may resort to negative punishments and even conversion strategies to try to change behavior. Conversion strategies, which try to force a child into a particular religious belief, can be particularly damaging for teens that are already struggling with their mental health and lack of good self-esteem. Though they have their place, religious residential programs may not be therapeutic in nature and these schools rarely have trained therapists on staff.
Catholic boarding school has its place. Religious families can help their children embrace their personal faith in this rich religious environment. Teenagers that are showing some concerning symptoms, but who are not yet completely withdrawn from their families, may get the reset they need by attending a Catholic boarding school or similar Christian residential program. However, this may not be appropriate for troubled youth dealing with psychosis or trauma because of the lack of therapy offered.
How Therapeutic Schools and Programs Differ
In a therapeutic residential treatment setting, the staff is trained on effective cognitive behavioral therapy techniques for dealing with a troubled teen. These techniques focus on building the emotional well-being of the child to help them overcome their challenges in a positive, supportive way.
One way in which a therapeutic boarding school will differ from a Catholic boarding school is in the trauma training that the staff has. Teens that have experienced trauma need a different form of therapy that goes beyond religious instruction. Trauma has a deep impact on a developing child’s brain, and it needs to be treated appropriately so the child can continue to grow and thrive.
Because therapeutic schools and programs have trained therapists on hand, they know how to handle even the most extreme behavior in a way that supports the child’s emotional well-being. The goal of these programs is to give children the tools they need to overcome their mental health battles, rather than simply changing behavior or forcing them into a particular belief or religious ideology. Children are able to change their mental patterns and embrace a more positive lifestyle in a supportive, therapeutic environment.
Therapeutic Boarding School – The Right Option for a Troubled Teen
If your teen is showing symptoms of serious mental health concerns, it’s time to get help. A therapeutic boarding school has the knowledge and training to provide lasting help. These programs take children where they are to get them where they need to be, providing practical tools that teens can tap into in the future if they have relapses.
Parents are often drawn to religious boarding schools because they line up with their personal beliefs. While these programs have their place, they may not provide the best support to a troubled teen. Parents need to do their due diligence to research the therapeutic techniques used in any residential treatment program they are considering to ensure that their children will have a positive experience as they work to make lasting changes.
If you need further help, talk to one of Zion Educational System’s family advocates. Contact us here.