What is a Residential Treatment Center for Youth?

Is a Residential Treatment Center right for your child?

When it comes to your child’s health and wellbeing, you’ll do anything to keep them on the path towards a safe, healthy, and successful future. But when it seems you’ve done all you can, it can be hard to know what to do with an out-of-control teenager. So where do you turn?

If this sounds familiar, it may be time to consider a residential treatment center.

Today, we’ll discuss what residential treatments are, the four main types of residential treatment centers for youth, and signs it may be time to consider enrolling your child into a residential treatment center to help steer them back onto the road to success.

Residential Treatment Explained

Residential treatment centers are intensive inpatient programs designed to support the individual needs of teens with emotional, behavioral, and educational difficulties or whose health is at risk in their current environment. A residential treatment program is generally the next step for at-risk youth who failed to respond to an outpatient program or need more intensive treatment following inpatient psychiatric care.

While living in a residential treatment center for youth, your child will be supervised and monitored by trained professionals and receive individualistic based treatment, including (but not limited to):


Comprehensive evaluations to assess social, emotional, educational, behavioral, and medical needs


Develop an individualized treatment plan


Individual and group therapy sessions


Psychiatric care


Emotional and behavioral support through predictable, nonviolent methods

When to Consider a Residential Treatment Center

Speaking to a therapeutic placement counselor for residential treatment center placement may also be beneficial if your child is struggling with:


Mental Health Disorder


Eating Disorder Addictions


Safety Concerns


Lack of Support at Home

The 4 Levels of Residential Treatment Centers

Level 1: Short-Term Treatment

Level 1 residential treatment programs are less intensive, short-term programs designed for teens working their way out of a higher residential treatment facility or newcomers who aren’t exactly sure what they need. Level 1 programs typically include therapeutic boarding schools or wilderness therapy programs and are a great first step for giving teens a reset to their current routine and habits. 

At a level 1 facility, teens are expected to follow the rules and participate in group and individual activities and have more freedom than in higher-level residential treatment programs. If necessary, teens can be moved to a higher level of treatment, discussed in more detail below.

Level 2: Increased Length & Security

If your teen has a history of rejecting authority, running away, or substance abuse, a level 2 treatment program may be a better fit. At a level 2 residential treatment center, your son or daughter will be under a higher level of security and supervision for their safety or in case of a medical emergency. Level 2 residential treatment programs often include more intensive therapeutic boarding schools and individual counseling for behavioral issues and mental health disorders.

Level 3: Highly Structured Live-In Programs

This level of treatment facility is better equipped to handle defiant or self-harming teens. They often have higher security and more restrictions resembling those of a juvenile detention center or rehabilitation facility. A level 3 program will be longer in duration than level 1 or 2 programs, and educational assistance will be offered.

Level 4: Extensive Mental and Behavioral Therapy

Level 4 residential treatment facilities are reserved for the most severe cases of therapeutic treatment. The teens or adolescents best fit for level 4 treatment pose a threat to themselves or others. They will undergo treatment under constant supervision and security as trained professionals work to modify their self-destructive and violent behaviors and often resemble mental hospitals.

Youth Residential Treatment Center Placement

Once you realize therapeutic placement is needed, it’s time to find the right program for your child. At Morgan Guidance, we’re committed to helping teens struggling with mental, emotional, behavioral, and social challenges find the best therapeutic placement designed to put them back on a clear path towards health, happiness, and success.

No matter what your child is going through, Morgan Guidance has the knowledge and experience to help make a positive difference in their future. Contact Elaine at Morgan Guidance today to schedule your complimentary 30-minute consultation and to learn more about how we can support your family and child in this challenging time.



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