Therapeutic boarding schools are generally middle schools, and high schools that have comprehensive therapies for the students and a program to help them with self-esteem and problem behaviors. Some of them are “character building” schools, and all have individual philosophies.

At this time most of the therapeutic boarding schools do not have a medical plan for bipolar disorder, and do not provide psychiatrists on staff. If you want your child to attend a therapeutic boarding school he or she needs to be stable enough to attend school with therapy support, while maintaining a relationship with an outside psychiatrist. Additionally, some schools do not wish to administer psychotropic meds.

Residential Treatment Centers

Sometimes the school that best meets the child’s needs just doesn’t exist anywhere near the child’s home, or the child may become too unstable to stay at home and attend school. It may become painfully obvious that a change in environment with a twenty-four-hour peer group and nonparental authority figures may help the child blossom and mature in a safe environment. Maybe they are a danger to themselves or to others and they need to be in a setting that can monitor their illness, as well as provide them with tools to understand and deal with their illness.

Residential Treatment Centers (RTCs) are medical facilities. They have psychiatrists and nurses on staff. They administer medications, make medication adjustments, and provide therapy and schooling. They are required to follow a student’s IEP.

Residential schools can cost anywhere from $56,000 to over $125,00 per year. A school district may pay part or most of the fee of such a placement, but typically only after a due process hearing.

Parents should definitely seek the help of a professional consultant and the child psychiatrist should be involved with the search process.

Websites that are particularly helpful are: