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Frequently Asked Questions



What is a therapeutic boarding school?


A therapeutic boarding school is a residential school or academy for teenagers perceived as having mental health problems or substance misuse issues. They may also be known as ‘emotional growth boarding schools’. The schools are part of a broader so-called 'troubled teen industry' in the USA.

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


How did you become interested in this topic?

I am a former therapeutic boarding school student, having been sent to a program when I was a teenager. 


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 HOME to 741741 and a crisis counsellor will call you.
Please note this research study is independent of the above-suggested resource.


I am a journalist, how can I find out more about the troubled teen industry?

I would be happy to help answer any questions, send resources, and connect you with activists and academics working to create change. Please e-mail me directly for questions or for requests to interview. My email address is: 




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