Frequently Asked Questions



What is a therapeutic boarding school?


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. This study is researching therapeutic boarding schools based in the USA only.


Who can participate in the study?


To be eligible, 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. You should NOT currently be a student in a therapeutic boarding school. The research hopes to engage people with a range of backgrounds and experiences.

What about boarding schools for people with learning / cognitive disabilities?


This is a very important topic. This research study is specifically looking at schools where the majority of the young people are admitted primarily due to being assessed as having mental health or substance misuse problems. These mental health problems and substance misuse problems may be in addition to learning or cognitive disabilities. However, the therapeutic boarding schools that are the focus of this study are NOT schools that are mainly for people with learning/ cognitive disabilities.

Are wilderness programs included in the research?


The research is focusing on therapeutic boarding schools. Many people who attend therapeutic boarding schools will have also attended a wilderness program or experienced a wilderness component as part of the school, this will be reflected in the research. However, to be included as a participant in this study you must have resided in at least one boarding school and not only a wilderness program. This means having been a student and resident at a school that runs classes and has fixed accommodation that is NOT tents.


Can I invite my friends to participate?


Yes, please do. If you have friends, former classmates, or family members who are former therapeutic boarding school students please send this website to them, here is the link to the research website: If you are a part of a social media group or network you are welcome to post this link onto these forums.


Is my personal data safe?


The research is confidential. Your personal information will NOT be shared with any outside institutions or individuals. Information will be stored securely, according to UK research council security regulations, and your information will be kept confidential. In publications based on the research, your responses will be anonymous and any identifying information removed. This research has been approved by the School of Social and Political Sciences Board of Ethics, University of Edinburgh, UK. 


What is the privacy policy of this website?


Your use of this website is NOT being analysed and is NOT being tracked by the researcher. The website is hosted by GDPR compliant Ltd, see their privacy statement here.


Is the research independent from the therapeutic boarding school industry?


There are no known conflicts of interest. I am the researcher, Sarah Golightley, a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh. I have no financial, familial or personal investment in the therapeutic boarding school industry. I have never worked in the industry. The research is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, a UK research funding organization that has no known connections to the therapeutic boarding school industry. 


If I change my mind, can I stop participating?


Yes. You can stop completing the registration, return to it later, or e-mail if you would like to withdraw your registration. You do not have to participate in an interview, if invited. During the interview if you would like to stop or pause the interview, you can


I want emotional support, who can I talk to?


If you are looking for emotional support, Crisis Text Line is one option for accessing someone who will listen. Visit their website Crisis Text Line or text TALK to 741741 and a crisis counsellor will call you.
Please note this research study is independent from the above suggested resource.