According to the recent findings of the multi-year, collaborative study made by various research institutions in the United States, private therapeutic boarding programs are more effective than other treatment methods in addressing the immediate issues faced by troubled teenagers.
Not only that, therapeutic boarding programs have also proven effective in reducing recidivism and giving teenagers a healthier attitude and performance long after the completion of the program.
Lead researcher Dr. Ellen Behrens of Canyon Research & Consulting in Salt Lake City, Utah, concluded, based on research, that troubled teens who participated in a private therapeutic residential program and were subsequently assessed ‘normal’ in the post-treatment results by the time of their discharge, they generally sustain the “normal” assessment a year later.
The study led by Dr. Behrens monitored for one year 1,027 teenagers, ages 13 to 18, from nine participating programs following their completion of a residential therapeutic program. The sample composed mostly of troubled teenagers and at-risk youth—adolescents that are having serious mental, behavioral or emotional issues—who had not responded to previous treatment methods, such as medication, psychiatric hospitalization, individual therapy, etc. The sample covered a wide range of these issues, including anger, anxiety, depression, borderline personality, manic depressive and many more. It utilizes two informant groups with repeated and standardized measures that was audited and reviewed by the Western Institutional Review Board, an independent organization that provides research review services to institutions worldwide.
New Hope for Trouble Teens
The participating teenagers were asked to fill a survey based on the Youth Self Report (YSR) and Child Behavior Check List (CBCL), both of which are considered “gold standard outcome measures” of the Achenbach System of Empirically Based Assessment.
Graph courtesy of NATSAP
The finding was a significant step for the residential treatment industry, who previously had to rely only on individual success stories, word of tongue, and anecdotal evidence as proof that what they are offering work.
“This study provides extremely significant information for the thousands of families who are making tough decisions about how to help a struggling teen,” says Elliot Sainer of the Aspen Education Group, a for-profit organization that operates a variety of treatment centers for troubled teens. “The research demonstrates that clinically-driven, high quality programs can offer solutions for these families.”
Residential treatment programs are umbrella term for any privately-paid residential/boarding institutions or programs that offer a highly structured environment for the purpose of therapeutic rehabilitation of a troubled teenager or at-risk youth. An academic component may or may not be offered. These institutions differ from each other based largely on the clientele is serves. Length of treatment also varies, but generally ranges from three to 18 months.