Recent Industry Concerns​




To the Willows Community:

It certainly has come to our attention that a few journalists have recently reported on Therapeutic Boarding Schools and Residential Treatment Centers with highly critical evaluations, as well as a famous celebrity heiress exacerbating this with her recently published book decrying “the troubled teen industry".


If you have worked with us, you may certainly be aware of the hundreds of parents who have attended our meetings in its thirteen years of existence. It has been our experience that parents who have sent their child to a treatment program are often mitigating dangerous and self destructive behaviors. They have certainly realized a stronger, more successful outcome in addressing their family’s critical needs.


Over the years options for families of children having social, mental health/substance abuse, and/or behavioral challenges have been to send them to out-of-state Wilderness programs, Therapeutic Boarding Schools (TBS) or Residential Treatment Centers (RTC). An average length of time a child spends in one of these treatment programs is about one year to 18 months. Most parents who have attended Willows support groups have experienced sending a child to one or more of these programs and report overall success in addressing their family’s needs. Certainly, one solution does not fit all families.

Some parents have chosen to send their children to treatment programs in California. The length of stay varies from 30 days – 4 months, on average. There is a national accreditation/licensing program which reputable treatment and wilderness programs belong to, no matter the location. The Federal Trade Commission, for example, lists a number of questions to ask such a program, prior to sending a child:  ( Healthcare insurance coverage often influences the choice of which accredited school or program, the length of stay, and the specific type of therapy that is offered. Other resources may be researched if a longer stay is needed.


It has been our practice to inform parents that one solution does not fit all families. We encourage parents to use professional resources whenever possible, ask questions, gather resources and do your homework. Willows is here to support families in gathering this information and making informed decisions.

For more information, please contact us at Willows




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Call Jan:  (650) 868-1988



If a program, school or other resource appears on this site, it is not a recommendation.  Conversely, if a program, school or resource is omitted, it does not mean it is not a good program. What is a fine program for one child/family, may not work for another child/family and the opposite is true as well.

The information contained on this site is provided by parents, not professionals, and is meant as a starting point for parents with struggling children.  We recommend consulting therapists, psychiatrists, and other professionals to guide you in the placement of your child.