No parent ever wants or even thinks it could come to this. Your teen is out of control, completely disrupting your home, perhaps using drugs or alcohol, maybe in trouble with the law. You have to do something even though it sometimes feels like you’ve tried everything. The pain is palpable.
When a family makes the decision to send their child to a therapeutic boarding school it can feel like a failure, like giving up. Of course your teen absolutely doesn’t want to go and you as a parent will feel guilt for following through with your decision.
But despite all the drama that leads to this point the end result can be more successful than you ever hoped. Therapeutic boarding schools are often the best way to heal your teen’s fragile emotions but also can have a very positive impact on their physical health. Mental and emotional issues can often be linked to physical ones, so we’ll look at five ways a boarding school can drastically improve your teen’s health.
1. A Thorough Evaluation by a Physician and Medical Team
Therapeutic boarding schools employ trained medical professionals so your teen’s physical health can be evaluated along with their mental health. Extensive blood tests and physical exams are performed to look for connections between a possible medical condition and your teen’s behavioral issues. For instance, deficiencies in vitamin D and the B complex vitamins have been linked to depression. Appropriate prescription medications may also be added to the treatment plan.
Your teen may also be evaluated by a nutritionist who will create a meal plan based on the physician’s findings that is suited to their individual needs. Eating fresh, healthy food benefits both body and mind and can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
2. Rigorous Exercise Programs
Many studies show that regular exercise has a very positive impact on the brain, releasing endorphins that make one feel good, limiting the release of chemicals that negatively affect the immune system and can increase depression, and increasing the body temperature which may have a calming effect on some people.
A regular exercise program can also do wonders for a teen with low self-esteem or issues with their body image. As they lose weight and gain muscle mass to the point where they can literally see the results their self-esteem will increase, and this always makes a big difference.
3. Equine Therapy
Equine therapy has become one of the most common therapeutic tools used to work with troubled teens, people with PTSD, and children with autism. Horses are a very special kind of animal and forming a relationship with one requires trust and patience, skills that many teens with behavioral issues sorely lack.
In many cases the teens are expected to perform barn chores and these are not easy tasks. The simple act of caring of for a horse requires a great amount of physical work. When they begin riding they will hurt in muscles they didn’t even know they had. Horseback riding and barn work are both very physically demanding but equine therapy has proven time and time again to improve both the physical and mental health of anyone who is involved in this type of program.
4. Individual and Group Mental Health Therapy
Our mental health and our physical health go hand in hand and more and more clinicians are focusing on this. When we’re stressed or depressed our brains are flooded with a multitude of chemicals that can negatively affect the body. For instance, someone with anxiety will have high levels of cortisol and adrenaline flooding through their bodies and while this is due to the body’s “fight or flight” instinct it also physically harms the body over time.
Engaging in individual and group therapy sessions can help your teen express their emotions, feelings, and fears in a supportive environment and learn better coping skills. Recognizing that these feelings are often caused by chemical reactions within the body can help them better understand why they feel the way they do and how to better handle the situations they face.
Physical health is extremely important when working with troubled teens. Choosing a boarding school that takes this issue seriously can make a big difference in the overall treatment outcome, which is the best news a parent can hear.