Most students who end up in a therapeutic boarding school eventually recognize the problem behavior that got them here. Which is not to say that they themselves are a problem. A label like “problem teen” is harmful because it implies that the teen needs to be fixed, like a broken washing machine or your car’s transmission. Students who don’t distinguish between their behavior and their essence are often afraid of losing some essential part of themselves to the program. No wonder they resist changing!
No amount of bad behavior can destroy the essential goodness of a troubled teen. These are students troubled by their individual experience of soul suffering, which they can only express in behavior that’s problematic for themselves and their families. When we approach their difficulties from the perspective of their suffering, we are respecting them and identifying with their humanity: We all suffer. The program shows them they’re not alone. An important aspect of the school is the sense of community that gives troubled teens the experience of being “part of” instead of pushing them further into social isolation.