Student Profile

Student Profile

White River Academy was created to be a lifeline for troubled teenage boys who are out of control.

The boys who arrive at White River Academy are between the ages of 12 and 17 and are often doing poorly in school. They may have a variety of difficulties, but generally they are making bad decisions and acting in ways that could sabotage their futures. Some are defiant and uncommunicative, others are withdrawn and isolated. Telling them what to do and what not to do is no longer working for their distressed parents. If the parents have not already had episodes involving police or ambulances, they live in dread of the day that will happen.

These boys are struggling and they lack the life skills they need in order to handle the challenges in their lives. They are intelligent, but have been using their intelligence to “beat the system.” Their behaviors may include substance abuse, indications of mental health issues or disorders, emotional difficulties and in some cases, learning disabilities or simply learning differences. Whatever the diagnosis, the situation has reached a critical point and parents are forced to look beyond the standard available resources to save their son.

The challenges adolescent males face

The personalities of adolescents, like their bodies and minds, are still developing. They are going through major changes in their lives as they transition from childhood toward adulthood. Many adolescent males suffer from low self-esteem – the boys feel that they are different and alone, or that they can’t live up to family or societal expectations. The pressures and responsibilities of adulthood, such as having a balancing school, a job and eventually maybe even a family, are intimidating. So they avoid the tough challenges of life, retreating into child-like petulant behavior and refusing to be told what to do, hiding their fears behind bad decisions and teenage bravado. Typically, we see elements of narcissism, feelings of entitlement, environmental manipulation and complete disregard of consequences.

How White River Academy can help

Therapeutic boarding schools such as White River Academy specialize in rescuing those lives before they are irrevocably destroyed. When kids become teenagers, there are many influences that parents can no longer control. As a rule, most parents never foresaw the need to try and monitor their son 24 hours a day to keep them safe and out of trouble. Once a parent is in this position, the home becomes a battleground with constant conflict.

However, in a therapeutic boarding school, there is 24/7 supervision in the classroom, the residences and in all activities, so there is nowhere to hide. The boys have no leverage to play games of manipulation or bargaining with staff or teachers.

At White River Academy, teens receive academic instruction, take part in sports and outdoor adventures, perform volunteer work in the community and engage in individual and group therapy. There is total immersion in a new culture a new way of living and a new environment. Students learn to be aware of their thought processes, the decisions that they make and the consequences of those choices. The safe, purposefully structured environment is designed to build confidence and self-esteem through varied experiences with consistent feedback. The experience is designed to give the boys the skills competencies necessary to cope with their issues, turn their lives around, return to their families and prepare to become responsible men.

Common conditions affecting students at White River Academy

Incoming students may exhibit one or more of the following difficulties:

  • Substance abuse and addiction

  • Technology addiction

  • Pornography addiction

  • Anxiety disorders

  • Depression and other mood disorders

  • Bipolar disorder

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

  • Low self-esteem

  • Attachment disorders

  • Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)

  • Eating disorders

  • Learning disorders and disabilities

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

  • Poor socialization skills

  • Immaturity

  • Academic difficulties

  • Relational problems with family

  • Peer conflict

  • Entitlement orientations

  • Impulsiveness

  • Doesn’t care about anything

  • Stopped doing things he used to love doing

Why regular schools fail to help

In addition to cutbacks in funding for academic programming in schools, support for behavioral and emotional interventions has been reduced. At the same time, growing use of psychiatric medications by children and adolescents suggests that teenagers face more pressure and stress than ever before.

At least six percent of teenagers are taking psychiatric medications, many of them for ADHD. Diagnoses of ADHD have risen 53 percent in 10 years, reaching a rate of 11 percent among children four to 17 years of age. Boys are three times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with ADHD, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). One in five high school boys has received an ADHD diagnosis at some point.

A therapeutic boarding school like White River Academy offers options for disrupting negative patterns of behavior, even when caused by mental health disorders, in teenage boys. It is able to provide more assistance than a traditional school to help students overcome their issues and learn to be accountable and responsible.

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What makes us great!


Justin Nielson

Program Administrator

It is natural for parents to worry and have concerns when sending their son away to a residential treatment center. We hope this detailed description of the admission process at White River Academy will answer some of your questions.

  • Small and Family-Directed

  • Accredited Educational Facility

  • Individualized Academics

  • Behavior Learning Component

  • Positive Peer Culture

  • Licensed Residential Treatment Center

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