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Introduction

In a previous articles, we discussed the causes for addiction in teens, the pros and cons of inpatient rehabilitation, and why wilderness therapy is oftentimes a more effective approach than inpatient rehab. This article discusses ranch therapy programs and therapeutic boarding schools as treatment options for substance addicted teens.

What is a ranch therapy program?

Ranch therapy is a mix of wilderness therapy and nurturing or therapeutic boarding school. Most of these programs are located on working ranches and farms, where students take concepts like leadership, teamwork, accountability, and responsibility and put them into practice in a real-world environment. The academics are accredited and address different learning techniques, such as visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Students receive academic credit with an emphasis on vocational training, such as culinary arts, auto mechanics, building trades, etc. The classroom size is small with a 1 to 4 staff to student ratio.

Like wilderness therapy, ranch therapy programs feature the development of intense interpersonal relationships, the opportunity to overcome significant emotional and physical challenges, and the encouragement to gain a greater understanding of oneself and one’s place in the world. Students learn to respect themselves and others, especially those people that care about them.

Most of these programs have a minimum length of stay of 6 months with the average being 9 to 12 months. Costs vary considerably with a monthly average of $8K to $10K. Health insurance does not typically offer reimbursement since the student does not receive medical services. However, many programs offer financing and payment programs.

What is a nurturing or therapeutic boarding school?

Nurturing or therapeutic boarding schools offer a holistic approach that includes therapy and/or emotional support, academics, and extracurricular activities. Please note that not all therapeutic boarding schools offer addiction support, so it may be of benefit to work with an educational consultant to help you determine which programs are most beneficial for your student. 

Students in these programs participate in individual and group therapy that help them understand and modify their behaviors. Boarding high schools typically include 9th through 12th grades, with some offering a post-graduate year. These schools have an average tuition of $60K a year with some being less, and others more, expensive.