Military Schools For Troubled Teens - Best Therapeutic Boarding Schools (2023)

If your teenager is exhibiting harmful or concerning behavior, getting your troubled teen professional help is necessary. But what kind of facility would best be able to help your child? Many parents start looking at military schools for troubled teens as a way to eliminate and resolve bad behavior, but they may not be aware that military schools don’t accept troubled teens (like some of them once did).

Military Schools No Longer Accept Troubled Youth

It is important to start dispelling myths and misunderstandings about teen help programs. For example, military school is not really an appropriate place to send troubled teenagers. In fact, nearly all military schools will not accept troubled teens (as reported by

Despite what you’ve seen and heard in movies and media, military school is not what you think it is. It’s common for parents to think of military schools as a place that is strict, structured, and staffed with people who will take a hard line on discipline. However, these schools are not designed to help troubled teens, nor do they contain the crucial therapy component to address emotional, behavioral, and mental health issues. In other words, experienced advisers would never recommend a military school for your troubled teen, nor will military schools want to enroll a troubled teenager.

This is not just a problem of staff. State laws will often offer a different set of rules for a military school than a therapeutic boarding school or residential treatment center. For example, they are under no obligation to deal with their students’ emotional or even mental needs. There is no requirement to have psychiatrists or therapists on staff. There is no law regarding mental health statutes. All of this makes it an ill-suited place for troubled youth needing help.

Military Schools For Troubled Teens - Best Therapeutic Boarding Schools (1)

(Video) A Look Inside the USA's Tough Boot Camps for Kids: America's Troubled Teen Industry | Documentary

Most military schools are most definitely not meant to work with troubled teens. They have little tolerance for boys who are unwilling to follow the rules. However, if a boy has plenty of incentive and drive to change his ways, a military school can be a great place for him to do so. Most kids who have gotten off track need discipline and stability in their life. Military schools provide a military-style structure to everyday life combined with comprehensive academic, athletic, and extracurricular programs.

Many graduates of the military schools in the U.S. go on to attend colleges and universities at home and abroad. Academic training and good results are the primary objectives of military schools and always have been. Most military schools think of themselves as “college preparatory schools,” but they have a long way to make that thought the primary thought of parents who are looking for the best training for their child.

Military schools are not meant to force teens to think differently but to prepare them for a military career later on. Military school is not the best option for your troubled teen, and you should question why and get the help you need to figure out what type of program your teen really needs.

Military School is NOT An Option For Troubled Teenagers

If you’re serious about finding the best help for your struggling teen, then it’s time to seek schools for troubled teens outside of military school. A facility with a therapeutic component is necessary for troubled teens to heal, learn, recover, and progress. We typically recommend looking into residential treatment centers or therapeutic boarding schools for troubled teens and can offer you free advice and options in that regard, without obligation.

Thankfully, we have a wealth of knowledge about the teen help industry, including information about all the different kinds of teen help programs. There is no shortage of options for you to consider moving forward.

(Video) Here's What Survivors of a 'Troubled Teen' Program Say Went On Inside

Program Options Besides Military School For Troubled Youth

A military school for troubled youth is not the only option for troubled teens’ parents. There are all kinds of teen other helpful programs that provide care and therapy for teens struggling with emotional, behavioral, and mental illnesses. Those include:

Residential Treatment Centers: These highly clinical facilities usually require a 6 to 9-month stay and focus on treatment for various issues, with more of a medical recovery focus. Usually, these centers deal more with substance abuse, serious mental health disorders, and similar issues requiring a high treatment level. Academics can be a part of some residential treatment centers and may be implemented at varying degrees, but not all do.

Equine Residential Treatment Centers: These facilities are very similar to traditional residential treatment centers for troubled teens. The major difference, however, is the inclusion of equine-assisted therapy. Through this unique approach to treatment, equine residential treatment centers address teenagers’ mental and emotional difficulties.

Wilderness Programs: These programs are generally 1 to 3 months long and are a good FIRST STEP to get teens to get used to a new life of professional help, living away from home, and working on changing their behaviors. As a transition plan, wilderness camps are a good idea, but there are few long-term benefits from it. There’s not enough time for much therapy or academics at a wilderness camp, and they are better used as a transition time or temporary solution while a more permanent one is found.

Therapeutic Boarding Schools: Therapeutic boarding schools for troubled teens are the ideal alternative to teen military schools. They provide the security and safety that other programs provide and have a highly successful school structure, including regular classes, specialty classes, and after-school activities. Therapy is conducted several times per week, both individual and group.

(Video) Shepherds Hill Academy Boarding School for Troubled Teens

Therapists and teachers live and work next to the teenagers daily, letting the treatment appear to be more organic and for students to create the necessary trust with the men and women striving enthusiastically to help transform their lives. Students are diligently monitored to help secure their success, and parents are typically kept up-to-date by a personal counselor.

Many therapeutic boarding schools have structured activities and recreation components to help each teen’s behavior modification goals. Therapy is a big part of a teen’s day, with group and individual therapy sessions to address the teen’s issues.

When It is Time to Get Help

When kids become aggressive, defiant, despondent, abusive, or fail to prepare for their future, it is definitely time to consider that they may need the structure and support of a proven teen help program, but one that is not a military school. When teens struggle with physical, mental, or emotional challenges, they often demonstrate extreme behavior, make poor choices, and can even endanger their own life or the lives of others. They participate in risky behavior that can jeopardize their future with long-term consequences, especially if nothing is done to help them.

Here are just some of the risky behaviors that troubled teens may engage in:

  • Violence
  • Expulsion from school
  • Suicidal Thoughts
  • Risky sexual activity
  • Breaking the law
  • Alcohol or drug abuse

Outside of risky behaviors, parents who consider military schools are usually dealing with emotional struggles, arguing, disrespect, and other inappropriate behaviors in their child, such as:

(Video) How to Choose Military Schools for Troubled Teens

  • Low self-esteem
  • Rebellion/Anger/Defiance
  • Depression/Self-destructive thoughts
  • Deceitfulness/Cheating/Theft
  • Manipulation
  • Promiscuity
  • Self-harm
  • Risky online behavior

Some have been previously diagnosed with behavioral or psychological “disorders” such as:

  • ADHDor ADD
  • Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD)
  • Bipolar/Psychological Disorders
  • Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)
  • Depression or Anxiety
  • Cutting or Eating Disorders

When parents of troubled teens don’t know what to do to provide help, many of them contact the nearest military school, hoping that could be the answer. Parents need to know the potential risk that military schools lack the proper treatment options necessary to help their child get over these issues. They may be putting their teen in a dangerous situation.

Research Options Other than Military Schools For Troubled Teens

All the teen help programs out there, whether it is a behavior boot camp, therapeutic boarding school, wilderness program, or residential treatment center, have a similar purpose: helping troubled teens with their current problems. Depending on what your teen is struggling with, one facility may be better than another in leading them toward health and healing. Making that decision is difficult, but having a general idea of your options can help.

We Can Help You Find The Right School For Your Troubled Teen

Finding the right fit for your teenager is not an easy task. It’s great that there are so many options and facilities available, but each struggling teen is different with unique struggles and needs. Contact us to help guide you through choosing the program that will benefit your teen the most. We have a wealth of knowledge on the various residential treatment centers, therapeutic boarding schools, and other behavioral modification programs that offer the best, specialized help for troubled teens.


Can you force your child to go to military school? ›

The majority of Military Schools are a privilege to attend. You may find a few that will accept your at-risk teen, but keep in mind, they typically have policies in place for behavioral issues that are not much different than the school you are leaving.

What is the purpose of therapeutic boarding school? ›

Therapeutic boarding schools for teens are designed to support students struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues. That's why they're sometimes known as boarding schools for “troubled teens.” These boarding schools integrate academics with group and individual therapy sessions.

What is the difference between boarding school and military school? ›

A military school provides teens with a robust blend of education and discipline, often to help prep them for a future in the military. A discipline boarding school focuses more on providing a therapeutic residential environment that will help to prep teens for returning to life and home and in their communities.

Where can I send my troubled child in Indiana? ›

Resource Treatment Center in Indianapolis, IN, is the trusted provider of oppositional defiant disorder treatment for youth who are suffering from emotional, behavioral, developmental, and psychiatric concerns.

What age can a child stay home alone military? ›

-- Children 15 and older can be left alone during the day, evenings and overnight. -- Children of any age can never be left in self-care or home alone on a regular basis during weekdays or out of school sessions such as vacations, weekends, and holiday.

What happens if you misbehave in military school? ›

It has been found by most military schools that once a cadet has violated the code of conduct the most influential consequence that can be levied is a restriction on one's personal time. Military schools offer a regimented daily schedule to help cadets to focus by limiting distractions and free time.

What happens after therapeutic boarding school? ›

Many students coming from a therapeutic program need to “warm up” to more traditional academic classes. They may need to work at a slower pace, have a reduced course or homework load, or benefit from academic coaching as they start to build their academic muscles.


1. Survivors of the "troubled teen industry" speak out and fight back | 60 Minutes Australia
(60 Minutes Australia)
2. Boarding Schools - Tour of Therapeutic Boarding School
3. What's it like to attend Missouri Military Academy?
4. Minds of the Future
(Unga Forskare)
5. Best Boarding Schools for Troubled Teens
(Lezlee Shaw)
6. STORYTIME: I went to a therapeutic boarding school.
(Makala O’Siggins)
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