1. Therapy ProgramsThe number one reason you're considering a therapeutic school over other types of private boarding schools is for the mental health of your child. Whether he has a behavioral issue or some other type of disorder, investigate the type of psychological help the school provides. How often do the kids receive therapy? What type of therapy is it? For example, do they put the boys into "talk" therapy, "experiential" therapy, or antagonistic methods like boot camp. What type of lifestyle will your teen have while he's in residence? Is family encouraged to join in therapy during their visits?
2. Antagonistic vs. Empathetic TreatmentStudies have shown that antagonistic treatment strategies like boot camps and extreme wilderness trips do not work as well for troubled youth as empathetic treatment strategies. Empathetic treatment encourages the teen to think about how his family and others feel about his behavior. It creates an environment where teenagers gain more understanding about others through their interactions with fellow students and staff without the harsh, ongoing, and intense conflict found in antagonistic treatment strategies.
Make sure the boarding schools you're considering have staff who specialize in the kind of treatment your son needs. What types of licenses do the therapists hold -- not just levels like Masters or Doctoral degrees, but also their subject focus? What are their behavioral or psychological specialities and do they mesh with your son's needs? Look for licenses and specialities like Marriage and Family Therapy, Family Science, Human Development, Psychology, and Social Work. Also check how many years of experience the top members of the staff have accumulated.