Residential Therapeutic Boarding Schools in California

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therapeutic boarding schools in california

When behavior problems or mental health issues interfere with a teen’s academic progress they may benefit from a residential therapeutic boarding school. These are specialized programs that help adolescents better manage their emotional challenges while moving forward scholastically. To achieve this end will entail a combination of psychological support and a dedicated academic support team.

For assorted reasons, many teens struggle to find their footing in the traditional school environment. When they fall through the cracks academically it can impact their behaviors, even leading to substance use or the possibility of dropping out of school. A therapeutic boarding school in California provides the perfect blend of psychotherapy, school support, and family involvement to help a troubled teen get back on track.

About Therapeutic Boarding Schools in California

Therapeutic boarding schools offer a solution for parents whose adolescent seems to have lost their way. By the time a parent is considering a residential program they have usually exhausted all other school, outpatient, and community support options. A residential program is understandably a big leap for parents to take, but may be the best therapeutic solution for their teen if all other attempts to help them have fallen short.

The therapeutic boarding school environment offers a structured, safe, and supportive setting for a teen to obtain a higher level of care. Without the daily distractions or aggravations that may cause a teenager to act out they are able to focus attention on both their psychological needs and their schoolwork. The residential mental health program offers an individualized treatment plan that aligns with the specific challenges of each teen. This intensive and tailored approach delivers more targeted treatment elements to better address the adolescent’s unique needs.

While therapeutic boarding schools offer varying features and philosophies, most will provide the following comprehensive modalities over and above the scholastic services:

  • Individual psychotherapy sessions. Often, behind troubled teen behavior lies an unresolved psychological issue. The individual counseling sessions help guide the teen toward examining emotional pain, possibly related to past trauma or abuse, loss of a loved one, divorce, or other negative life events. Utilizing evidence-based therapies, the therapist guides the teen in processing the emotions connected to the core issue, as well as shaping new positive thought-behavior patterns.
  • Group sessions. Teens are generally social beings, so allowing peers to gather in small groups and share their stories and challenges can help them bond while in treatment.
  • Family sessions. Family-focused therapy helps family members restore harmony in the family system. Parents are provided with information and tools to help them understand their role in the therapeutic process. Families are encouraged to cultivate more connected relationships through effective communication methods.
  • Experiential activities. Many teens are more open to the therapeutic process while engaged in movement, such as physical outdoor activities. Teens are receptive to participating in immersive group activities with peers, and that offers an opportunity to teach interpersonal and social skills.
  • Psychosocial skills. Teens are taught effective communication skills, as well as emotion regulation, anger management, and conflict resolution.
  • Medication management. For some teens, medication may be appropriate for managing a mental health disorder.
  • Substance use treatment. Teens who have developed a substance use problem can obtain a medical detox and addiction treatment counseling at some residential therapeutic boarding schools..

Academic Support at Therapeutic Boarding Schools in California

Assisting teens with their academic needs is an intrinsic component of a residential program. Students work with teachers or tutors to meet educational coursework goals, and to hopefully rekindle an interest in learning. The teens are expected to establish goals and meet benchmarks while enrolled at a residential therapeutic boarding school.

Staff members are tasked with interfacing on a regular basis with the teen’s school through an academic liaison that is appointed through the school administration personnel. This partnership helps ensure that the student is maintaining their coursework while in treatment so they can continue to make academic progress.

How Residential Therapeutic Boarding Schools Help Teens with Mental Health Conditions

Teens are increasingly struggling with unstable mental health. In particular, teen depression and anxiety are on the rise. Causes for the increase in mental health disorders among adolescents might include excessive exposure to social media or other tech addiction, anxiety related to academic pressure, instability in the family dynamic, or being bullied to name a few.

Teen Depression

A disturbing rise in teen suicides has drawn attention to teen depressive disorder. Among teen girls, about 20% have experienced a depressive episode. Debilitating depression can sideline a teen as they become more isolated. Symptoms of teen depression include:

  • Loss of interest in the activities usually enjoyed
  • Irritability, agitation, easily frustrated
  • More frequent mood swings
  • Angry outbursts
  • Fatigue, listlessness
  • Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • Unreasonable feelings of guilt, shame, or worthlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering things
  • Sleep problems, change in sleep habits
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Self-harming behaviors
  • Decline in academic performance
  • Loss of interest in appearance, neglecting hygiene
  • Skipping school
  • Change in eating habits, rapid weight gain or loss
  • Overly sensitive to criticism
  • Substance abuse
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions

Teen Anxiety

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 32% of teens aged 13-18 had experienced some form of an anxiety disorder. Further, the NIMH reports that female teens are more prone to anxiety than males (38% versus 26%), and that 8.3% of adolescents with an anxiety disorder suffer severe impairment in functioning. Symptoms of teen anxiety include:

  • Irrational feelings of worry, dread, and fear
  • Extreme irritability
  • Increase in mood swings
  • Restlessness
  • Muscle tension
  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Hyper-vigilance
  • Trembling
  • Racing heart, palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Avoidant behaviors
  • Intense fear of rejection or public humiliation
  • Trouble concentrating

How Therapeutic Boarding Schools in California Help Teens with Behavior Problems

Disruptive, aggressive, or destructive behaviors pose a serious risk to teens going on to become involved in social deviance, substance abuse, or crime. Some mental health disorders that feature behavior problems in adolescents include oppositional defiance disorder, conduct disorder, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Oppositional Defiance Disorder

Oppositional defiance disorder (ODD) is often first identified in childhood. As the child gets older, the behaviors tend to become more disruptive. Symptoms of ODD persist for more that six months and include:

  • Hostility
  • Defiance
  • Rejection of authority
  • Stubbornness
  • Refusal to follow rules
  • Spitefulness
  • Verbal aggression
  • Negative attitude
  • Angry or aggressive outbursts
  • Argumentative, uncooperative

Conduct Disorder

Conduct disorder is a mental health disorder that affects about double the number of male teens compared to females. Generally, the younger the adolescent is when beginning to exhibit the signs of conduct disorder the worse the prognosis. Symptoms of conduct disorder include:

  • Aggression toward people or animals
  • Destruction of property
  • Setting fires
  • Lying
  • Threatening harm to others
  • Cruelty toward animals
  • Stealing
  • No remorse, lack of empathy or compassion
  • Bullying
  • Truancy
  • Running away from home
  • Physical violence towards others
  • Getting into fights
  • Breaking into to people’s cars or homes
  • Deceitful behaviors
  • Violating the rights of others
  • Problems discerning social cues


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurobiologic disorder that affects more than double the rate of boys versus girls. The disorder is usually detected in early childhood, and about 30% of those kids do outgrow it. The remainder will carry the disorder into the teens years, where the symptoms will be difference from childhood ADHD. Symptoms of teen ADHD include:

  • Declining academic performance
  • Impulsivity
  • Boredom
  • Problems with social relationships
  • Restlessness
  • Works below potential
  • Difficulty concentrating on tasks, reading materials
  • Tends to give up, to quit before finishing things
  • Difficulty remembering assignments or responsibilities
  • Rushes through schoolwork
  • Trouble with organization of tasks
  • Difficulty in test taking
  • Easily distracted
  • Engages in risky behaviors
  • Engages in sexual activity at an early age
  • Substance abuse

How a Residential Boarding School Helps Teens with Low Self-Esteem

One trait that runs through the most common teen mental health issues is low self-esteem. Some teens just feel they do not measure up or fit in with their peers. Some of the common factors that might contribute to low self-esteem include doing poorly in school, struggling socially, sensitivity about socioeconomic status, negative body image, persistent negative thought patterns, or a history of abuse or neglect. All of these factors influence the way a teen feels about him or her self.

Generally, when a teen suffers from low self-esteem they tend to avoid situations that may introduce the possibility of failure or being ridiculed. Identifying low self-esteem in an adolescent is fairly straightforward. Some of the signs a teen has low self-esteem might include:

  • Isolating behaviors
  • Uses body language like slouching that signals low self-esteem
  • Excessive bragging
  • Disordered eating habits
  • Negative tone and attitude when discussing others
  • Few friends, has trouble maintaining friendships
  • Negative talk, a defeatist attitude
  • Irrational feelings of guilt or shame
  • Constantly apologizing
  • Prefers the fantasy world, excessive video gaming
  • Avoids competition, doesn’t go out for extracurricular activities

A residential therapeutic boarding school setting can help teens who struggle with low self-esteem. Through participation in therapy, individualized tutoring, and team-building activities, teens find their strengths and learn to cultivate healthy relationships, which enhances self-image.

BNI Treatment Centers a Leading Residential Mental Health Program Los Angeles

BNI Treatment Centers is a psychiatrist owned and operated residential boarding school in California. BNI Treatment provides academic support and comprehensive mental health treatment for struggling adolescents. BNI Treatment helps teens develop their emotional, intellectual, and social skills within a nurturing and supportive environment. Our program connects well with teens, offering activities that they can relate to and truly enjoy with others as they build new social skills and friendships. For more information about BNI Treatment Center, please call us today at (888) 522-1504.

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