Enrolling Your Troubled Teen In Therapeutic Boarding School: What to Expect


Enrolling your daughter at a therapeutic boarding school is probably one of the most difficult decisions you will ever make. The thought of sending your troubled teen away to a therapeutic boarding school for girls to get closer is paradoxical, and you’ve worked hard to do your due diligence to ensure that the placement is optimal. Even though you’re comfortable with the staffing, facility and programming offered, when the time comes to depart, leaving her may feel as if your heart is being ripped from your body.


First Day

She may present a brave front as you leave, or may be angry, cry, or want to blame. The following is an account of what happens after you drive away, wondering if you’ve made the right decision. A student mentor, who acutely remembers her own first day, will come and begin taking your daughter on a tour. She begins introducing her to other students, and helps her become familiar with the environment. A teenager’s natural desire to fit in can help her to recover from saying goodbye to her parents, and her posture can be observed to relax. A Resident Advisor (a term we chose to reflect that most of your daughters will have an RA when they choose to go to college) will then meet with your daughter, inventory her belongings, and provide support and comfort from an adult perspective.

She will then generally meet her counselor and take part in an introductory session. Within twenty-four hours, you’ll receive a call from her counselor, updating you on how she is integrating into the community. Several days later, you’ll receive another call from the counselor, where the initial goals of her being at GBA are formulated, and expectations for family calls are discussed. An agreed-upon time for family calls in which your daughter will participate is also scheduled, and around the first week of her arrival, you will begin having family therapy calls. These calls will continue on a weekly basis throughout your daughter’s time at our therapeutic boarding school for girls.

Week 1

Sometime within the first week, she will be called into the student council, and made to feel welcomed, and begin her Aspirational journey. The first few weeks are a time of observing the friends that she makes, how she involves herself in the residential life, academics and other contexts that GBA offers. Her participation in these activities will provide fertile ground for her therapist to observe any old patterns of behavior, and begin planning interventions that support the formation of her most powerful, authentic self.

Week 6

Around the six-week mark, you will attend the first of three family intensive seminars, and have the opportunity evaluate the progress that has been made to this point, and further refine and clarify the work that still needs to be accomplished. You will most likely leave the workshop with a profound sense of optimism, an affirmation that you have made the right choice for your daughter. This workshop paves the way for home visits, which are opportunities for your daughter to demonstrate what she has internalized during her time at GBA, and provides “grist for the mill,” to discuss how she is reintegrating into the family and home environment.

At around the six – month mark, you’ll participate in another on-campus family workshop, which will further refine the work that your daughter is doing as well as provide assistance into how the family can best support the young woman that she is becoming.

Last Few Months

The last few months are characterized by her increasing excitement in progressing through the Aspirations, her opportunity to serve on various committees and councils at the school, her finding meaning and purpose in her life often reflected through service trips and projects, and finally preparation to support her graduation from Greenbrier. We will also be developing a plan that’ll continue the momentum that she has gained through her experience at Greenbrier. 

Trust the Process

You will have the opportunity to participate in an individualized third parent intensive, and shortly thereafter take part in a moving personalized graduation ceremony. It is this moment that you’ll come to understand another parents’ perspective, who commented, “the hardest day at Greenbrier was actually not her first day, but her last day. Our daughter’s ‘problems,’ ended up being a gift for the whole family to grow and heal.”

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