Therapeutic Boarding Schools

Schools for Emotionally Disturbed Children in Maryland

Forbush School at Glyndon

The Forbush School, located in Glyndon, is a part of the Sheppard Pratt Health System. This school provides services to 160 children year-round and delivers educational and therapeutic services to children with emotional and behavioral challenges. For older students, the school offers two educational tracks, academic and vocational. The school is staffed with certified teachers, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists to meet all children’s needs.

Villa Maria Schools

The Villa Maria Schools provide therapeutic and educational services for children with emotional and learning difficulties who need support above and beyond what their public schools can offer. The various locations offer day and residential programs for children from pre-kindergarten through ninth grade, depending on the location. For those children struggling with emotional disabilities, Villa Maria offers a brief day program to help structure a clinical and educational service plan. Children between the ages of six and 13 may qualify for this service, dependent upon a recommendation by their public school.

The Children’s Guild

The Children’s Guild has two locations in Maryland, with day schools in Baltimore and in Prince George’s County. These day schools provide services to children with emotional disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, multiple disabilities, and other secondary disabilities. These children struggle to be successful in their regular school setting. In addition to an educational curriculum, students also receive therapeutic support through individual and group therapy, medication management, case management, and crisis intervention.

The Foundation Schools

The Foundation Schools, with campuses in Largo and Gaithersburg, provide support to students with emotional disabilities. These schools aim to provide therapeutic and educational support for children in grades 1 through 12 at the Largo location and grades 3 through 12 at the Gaithersburg location. Referrals are often received from local public schools, mental health agencies, and parents. The school’s goal is to provide support to children with emotional disabilities to allow them to experience success in their academic careers.

Information on Therapeutic Boarding Schools

Who Should Go

Therapeutic boarding schools are ideal for students with behavioural problems. Behavioural problems can include violent, threatening, angry, destructive and dishonest behaviour. Inability to get along with others and trouble respecting authority, including parental authority, are also signs that a therapeutic boarding school may be a good fit for your child. Therapeutic boarding schools have a professional support system in place to address these behaviours. A therapeutic boarding school may also be a good fit if you suspect your child is using drugs or alcohol.


Before selecting a school, check out the schools accreditations, and the credentials of the staff. If you are unsure about what accreditations the school should have, check with the state education department in the state where the school is located. Find out if anyone has sued or investigated the school for child abuse or child neglect. Review student-teacher ratios, graduation rates and their academic program. Also, ask to speak to a parent of a student who attends the school and ask her about her experience with the school. Ask how involved and informed the school keeps the parents.

Campus Life

Make an appointment to visit the school. Tour the campus and student living quarters. Find out how much supervision students receive when they are in the living quarters and how much therapy is available to the students. How structured will the school make your child's day? Ask about the backgrounds of the other students. If your child does not have a drug problem, you may not want to send her to a school where most of the students have that problem.


Therapeutic boarding schools have professional staffs trained to deal with students with behavioural problems. These schools offer smaller classes where students can receive more individualised attention in a structured learning environment. Therapeutic boarding schools offer extra-curricular activities designed to encourage intellectual growth and creativity. The students can take part in individual, group and recreational therapy sessions with trained professionals to deal with their behavioural problems.


Therapeutic boarding schools often provide counselling for the whole family. The programs are designed to promote permanent changes, but it can take up to two years for the changes to become apparent. Therapeutic boarding schools also focus more than other types of schools on preparing your child to transition from the school, whether than be to go to college or return home. Therapeutic boarding schools offer an academic curriculum and structure designed to prepare students for the rigours and discipline required in college.

Therapeutic Boarding Schools for Troubled Children

Structured Setting

Many therapeutic boarding schools require incoming students to earn privileges and trust by demonstrating appropriate, cooperative behavior. Privileges can range from being allowed computer or phone access to more responsible roles such as mentoring other students. Even after earning privileges, therapeutic boarding schools rarely offer unsupervised free time -- students usually have choices among a limited number of activities. Depending on the school, students who fail to participate or report for school or activities might receive a negative consequence.

The Staff

Staff members at most therapeutic boarding schools include trained staff and teachers and licensed therapists and counselors. Staff are expected to follow the Guidelines and Practice of Behavioral Management as outlined by the National Association of Therapeutic Boarding Schools. According to these guidelines, staff should foster pro-social behavior while actively de-escalating angry children by remaining calm and consistent. This isn't boot camp -- yelling or demeaning students isn't allowed.

Therapeutic Component

Because behavior often stems from deeper emotional and psychological issues, therapeutic boarding schools typically require group therapy, possibly individual therapy, and in some cases, family therapy. Therapy and counseling are essential elements of promoting long-term emotional growth and health, according to the National Association of Therapeutic Boarding School Principles of Good Practice. In some schools, the type of therapy a student receives depends on her incoming behavioral status and issues reported by her parents.

Specific Consequences

Specific consequences are clearly outlined for misbehavior such as punching a wall or stealing. Therapeutic boarding schools clearly outline these behaviors and their subsequent consequences to all new students. While consequences might include extra chores or a loss of privileges, they should never include deprivation of nourishing food, physically striking a student or any other potentially injurious acts, according to the National Association of Therapeutic Boarding Schools.