About the study



Research summary


Therapeutic boarding schools are residential facilitates for teenagers in the USA who are considered to have had mental health or substance misuse problems. This study is the main aspect of my PhD research that aims to gain insight into how former students make meaning of their therapeutic boarding school experience. The research study primarily involves interviews with former therapeutic boarding school students. Findings will contribute to improving social work practice and informing social policy.

If you are interested in participating in this study, you must be at least 18 years old and have attended at least one therapeutic boarding school in the USA. To participate, the first step is to complete the online registration of interest. A selection of those who have registered their interest will be invited to interview. The interview will provide an opportunity to discuss experiences in depth. The research hopes to engage people with a range of backgrounds and experiences. Participation is voluntary and confidential.


Who can participate


Participants should be 18 years of age or older and have been a boarding student in at least one therapeutic boarding school in the USA. For the purposes of this research, a therapeutic boarding school is a residential school or academy aimed at teenagers who are considered to have mental health problems or substance misuse issues. They may also be known as ‘emotional growth boarding schools’. The schools typically run 365 days a year, have on-site accommodation, have at least several hours of taught classes on an average weekday, and limit contact with family and peers outside of the school.

About the researcher


I am Sarah Golightley, a Social Work PhD student at the University of Edinburgh, UK. My background is in social work practice and mental health research. As a former therapeutic boarding school student myself, I aim to produce unique research on how former students describe their experience of therapeutic boarding schools.



Information will be stored securely, according to UK research council security regulations, and your information will be kept confidential. Personal information will NOT be shared with any outside institutions or individuals. In publications based on the research, all responses will be anonymous and any identifying information removed.

Ethical Approval


The research has been approved by the School of Social and Political Science Board of Ethics, at The University of Edinburgh, Scotland.


Research Funding

The research is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, UK.

Questions or feedback


Please contact me by e-mail at TBSResearch@ed.ac.uk