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A Mother’s Journey to Finding a Therapeutic School for Her Struggling Teen

An Inspiring Story of Transformation & Healing at Therapeutic School

About a 16-year Old Boy Struggling with Depression and Substance Misuse

A must-read! How Amy found the right therapeutic program for her struggling teen, Jimmy. A journey of hope for parents of teens struggling with similar behavioral challenges.  

I placed Jimmy in a therapeutic boarding school last year when he was 15. Amy’s email about her son’s transformation brought me to tears. She included an article Jimmy wrote for a surfer magazine, recounting the profound impact therapeutic boarding school had on his life. 

With Amy’s permission, I’m sharing both the article and her email to offer hope and guidance to other parents. 

Recognizing When Your Teen Needs More Than Home Support.

Amy is like most of the parents I work with. She spent years trying to help Jimmy. They’d make progress. He’d improve for a short while, only to slip back into his old patterns.  She was worried, even terrified, for him. When a friend of his died of an overdose, she knew they had to take drastic measures.

"We came to realize it was worth losing our son for a year vs. losing him forever. "

The Challenge: Dealing with a Rebellious Teenager

According to Amy, Jimmy was in middle school when he lost interest in most things he enjoyed. He became critical of himself and began disrespecting his parents. These behaviors were followed by experimenting with drugs and vaping.

Worried about Jimmy, she and her husband began family counseling, trying to learn how to deal with their rebellious and defiant son. While therapy helped them, their son’s depression didn’t improve, and in fact, his behavior worsened over time.

Amy and her husband struggled. Eventually, they decided to send their son away to a program for struggling teenagers.


Debunking Online Critics' Myths about Parenting Troubled Teens

I see it over and over again. Parents desperately search for answers, seeking counselors and programs to help their teens change course – to return to the good kid they knew before the disrespect, substance misuse, and self-harm began.

One of the most hurtful lies online is that these parents send their kids away because they don’t love them and that they’re unwilling to deal with “normal” teenage rebellion.

Worse yet, some cruelly judge them, accusing them of being bad parents. They misunderstand the inability to “control their teenager” as a parental failure.

These “online critics” in support groups and blogs fail to grasp the depth of these parents’ love. These parents have spent countless hours in conversations, therapy sessions, and shuttling their kids to countless appointments: therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, rehab, support groups, and more.

Their lives revolve around the one struggling child, often at the expense of siblings and their own relationships. These out-of-control kids create havoc in the household.

In over twenty years of working with families, I’ve never met a parent who wanted to send their child away. Deciding to send a teenager to a residential school or a therapeutic program is the hardest decision a parent ever makes.

Like Amy and her husband, often, the decision comes down to choosing whether your child will end up in jail, die, or have a chance at a happy, productive life.

The most difficult decision a parent can make for their struggling teenager is a LOVE DECISION. 💙
Every decision you make is a reflection of your love for your child, and with that love, comes the courage to make tough choices. It's important to trust your instincts and believe in yourself as a parent.

An Emotional Rollercoaster: Navigating the Highs and Lows of Parenting Troubled Teens

The harsh reality confronting many parents is that they provide their children with so many chances that their life becomes an emotional roller coaster, riddled with peaks of joy and valleys of terrifying, persistent fear.

Can you imagine what it feels like to experience such a wide spectrum of emotions, spanning from intense dread and anxiety? Or is that where you are now?

Every parent I’ve helped in the last 20-plus years has one thing in common: they come to me asking for guidance, driven by fear for their teenager’s well-being.

Always remember, there is absolutely no reason for you to feel guilty for choosing life for your child! Don’t ever let anyone make you feel guilty for wanting your child to live!

To illustrate this, let’s look at Amy’s email to me.  We first met through the B.I.L.Y. group.

Amy has graciously allowed me to share her story. You can view her original email and Jimmy’s article by clicking on the images below.

Choosing Life: A Mother's Struggle and Her Son's Path to Healing

Amy's email transcript

“Towards the end of middle school and into our son’s freshman year, we noticed he lost interest in most of the things he enjoyed doing. He became very critical of himself and disrespectful to his family. He also started experimenting with drugs, marijuana, and vaping.

His dad and I started to see a counselor to gain the tools we needed to deal with our son. Yes, we gained some tools to be better parents; however, it didn’t help Jimmy from falling further into his depression. We were also introduced to BILY (Because I Love You), a support group for parents of troubled teens.

I can’t stress enough the importance of this group in helping us make very difficult but life-changing decisions for our family and our son! I recommend going to a couple of meetings so you can see you are not alone and their resources are numerous.

There were kids of all financial walks of life, kids who were socially challenged, kids experimenting with drugs, gaming and depression. We would take one step forward in helping our son and five steps back until we realized he needed help we could no longer offer him.

I should also note, we had some good friends who lost their son to drug addiction the year before and he reminded us so much of our son and his friends. He came from a good family and loved the same things our son enjoyed, surfing, fishing, camping, etc. We came to realize it was worth losing our son for a year vs losing him forever.

With the help of BILY, we found Mary Warren, a Therapeutic Educational Consultant who helped us find the right program for our son.  Jimmy attended the program for 11 months. When he graduated, he’d met all of the requirements.

He has been home since February 2020. He’s happy, makes better choices and is a complete joy to be around. He often speaks on behalf of BILY about his life before, during and after therapeutic boarding school.

He was failing his Freshman year and is now graduated high school a year and a half early. After experiencing this program with our son, we believe all young adults would benefit from a program such as this. I’m crying as I type this letter because I’m happy and thankful that we made this incredibly difficult decision.

Amy a very proud and happy mom!

The Price of Procrastination: Unveiling the Tragic Consequences of Delaying Help for Struggling Teens

Tragically, when parents procrastinate in enrolling their struggling teenager into a supportive program, like a residential treatment center or a therapeutic school, they usually believe that waiting until after… 

  • the holidays
  • the family vacation
  • the next semester
  • the next…
  • or they decide to give their child ‘just one more chance.’


Regrettably, I can’t tell you how often I hear back from them with horrible news like their child died by suicide, suffered a drug overdose, has gone missing, or ended up entangled in the juvenile legal system.

If you’re a parent dealing with similar circumstances, understand that you’re not alone and that help is available.

You don’t need to let another holiday, vacation, or semester pass by while your child struggles. Schedule a consultation to discuss your situation and get advice, resources, parent coaching, and the information you need about residential treatment programs, wilderness therapy, and therapeutic boarding schools designed specifically for teenagers in crisis.

My mission is to help you and your child. I don’t believe in ‘just one more chance’; instead, I advocate for the right chance.

Don’t delay, contact me today. Together, we can embark on a journey toward your child’s happier, healthier future.

Remember, every decision you make for your child stems from love and courage. Trust your instincts, believe in yourself as a parent, and let’s make a difference in your child’s life today.

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Struggling to connect with your teen?
Feeling Helpless about their behavior?

Restore peace in your home and help your teen find their path to emotional and physical wellness. Get expert guidance on strategies to manage conflict and support your teen’s emotional growth. Don’t wait. Get the support you need today.

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