Telos is a unique, clinically-sophisticated, relationship-based treatment center for teens and young adults ages 13-26.


Telos is a unique, clinically-sophisticated, relationship-based treatment center for teens and young adults ages 13-26.

Navigating Residential Treatment

Navigating Residential Treatment

For Parents  Navigating Residential Treatment

So you’re new. Hundreds of families nationwide are introduced each year to residential care due to a son or daughter who needs more help and stability. Though it is a path few parent’s would choose, in most cases it is the only thing that “works.” This site will help you find answers.

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No parent wants to put their child into residential care. Part of the vision of Telos is to provide you with information so you can make informed decisions. The right program is critical. You may not place your child with Telos, and that is okay. Our hope is you can find a program that is the right fit for your child’s individual needs.

To help with that, we have designed this NEW TO TELOS section with industry knowledge and support to help you along the way. Below are definitions commonly used industry-wide. Other menu items will help you learn about navigating residential treatment and get a general sense of the treatment process. Each section, including our blog, is aimed at assisting parents in making good decisions.

If you hired an educational consultant they will walk you through this process step-by-step. Typically an independent testing company tests the student to determine need.  Then those needs are put up against dozens of options for placement. Most students begin with a wilderness program. This is an intensive program that is designed to help bring the student clarity, helping them realize the therapeutic need is real and all the problems they are experiencing need their focus and attention.  Many students experience a significant therapeutic boost and feel they are “cured” after wilderness. Unfortunately, this is often a temporary fix if not followed up by a residential therapeutic center. Most centers have an average stay of 8-18 months, depending on the severity of the student’s needs. The goal at most residential centers is to give students a toolset that helps them leave the program prepared for the next phase of their lives. This varies depending on the student and their buy-in to the program. The key program differences are these: Clinical strength, type of student they treat, quality of staff, core goals, and purpose for the program.

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This professional’s sole focus is to help parents find the correct path for their child. Only a few Educational Consultants have a therapeutic specialization. This is an important distinction because most work with prep schools, military schools, and premier colleges.

If you need a therapeutic solution, hire a consultant who is an expert in therapeutic placements. Though consultants are paid, in the long run, it is generally the least expensive route and is less stressful for parents. Click here for help finding an Independent Consultant.

A broad term for boarding options while in a mental health treatment facility.  What is difficult to manage are the offerings of each facility. This is a highly researched part of what consultants help you with.
Students are typically done after residential if they are willing to work hard and the family is engaged in supporting ongoing effort and learning. Aftercare support (“after” residential treatment) is essential to a student’s long-term success. Some premium programs offer this to help students’ success rates soar.


To begin we want to familiarize you with a few of the most common terms and what the definitions are. The following definitions are known profession-wide:

A licensed mental health professional who spends time with your child to help identify the areas where mental health can be supported

A physical campus or home setting where students are able to live and receive a more intensive focus on healing emotionally. Therapists typically meet weekly with students to help student progress.

There are many programs nationally. Each program is focused on a certain type of child. It is important to make sure you understand what the program is expert at and that your child has those needs.

Programs have people who work in admissions, much like a college. They take a look at your students test scores and determine if there is a good fit. Unlike college, the testing is to help understand the child’s needs. The admissions team usually host a family and provide tours prior to any formal acceptance to see if there is a good fit.

Tests are administered to students to see basic core scores in reading comprehension, verbal retention, IQ, etc. Most programs don’t administer these tests because they stay with the student rather than the program.

These amazing people stand between you and your program choices to ensure your child finds the correct help. They are paid for their services but help parents avoid enormous pitfalls that cost even more. It is important to note that, for ethical reasons, the family pays consultants directly, not the program. As treatment progresses, the consultant stays in touch with the program and helps mitigate any needs or problems.
Wilderness is often the first step in the therapeutic process. It helps students remove themselves from all electronics, parents, family and stimulation. Students soon realize that they have no more excuses why things are failing and can begin the healing process. Wilderness is typically 8-10 weeks. Program is a generic term for a place where students go after wilderness, where they often are managed and cared for in a structured environment. Students often feel that wilderness is all they need. It is rare that a student only needs that first experience.

A robust residential program helps by diving deep and working on long-term solutions. Program lengths vary but are typically about 8-18 months, depending on needs.

The level of adult support needed for the type of student being treated. High structure typically means more staff, rules, safety protocols, and therapeutic attention dedicated to a student. Low structure is just the opposite.

Lockdown is exactly what it sounds like. It is a program that works with students who need a highly structured environment with high structure staffing and restricted movement on campus (locked doors). Staff Secure means the students are not a flight risk and don’t need movement restricted by locked doors. Staff are always near and keep students engaged and focused during the day.

More questions?  Check Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What families had to say about Telos

Our experience at Telos was phenomenal! From the day we took the parent tour until the day our son was discharged. We were impressed by the team and staff’s skill, experience, professionalism and positive attitude.

I have been to 4 treatment centers. Wilderness, then Telos and a third (I left early) and finally a fourth (I graduated from). By far, Telos is the program that went above and beyond. Not only has Telos stuck by me when I refused to progress, Telos completely turned my life around.

Telos saved my son’s life! They customized his treatment to fit his needs and adapted it as he grew. They also treated our family along side him, ensuring the most successful transition home. We are eternally grateful.

It has been almost 7 years now since I was at Telos but the skills I learned there have help me through my life. I will always remember the great people who helped me along the way!

Our son spent 17 months at Telos and to say his time was transformative is an understatement. Their focus on helping kids and their families grow and heal is a caring and supportive environment and is truly exceptional.

I was at Telos 5 years ago…I still love this place. Before Telos my life was awful.

Our son just completed Telos. I can say Telos is a godsend. The therapeutic resources at every level are excellent. It takes a lot of courage and trust to hand over your child to an institution 2,000 miles away. Our son is finally able to move forward.

There really are not words to describe how amazing Telos is. From the owners and staff to the therapists and teachers. All are special people with caring hearts and amazing training. Though it took longer than expected, our family is soooooooo much better now. We are forever grateful.

There really is a special feeling and atmosphere at Telos, I recommend Telos to anyone!

I was a student at Telos for over a year. There have never been better experiences in my life than the ones that I had there. The Telos tools have improved my life immeasurably.

Great school for struggling teens. Intense therapy for the child and family. Fabulous resource, strong academics. They won’t give up on your child!

I’ve spent my career certifying private schools and I would put Telos High School in the top 5 nationally, even compared to the most prestigious private schools available.

OMG! Having our son at Telos was an amazing experience. Their program is very well thought out and covers all the many aspects of a struggling teen. I am proud to say that now he is a confident, capable and most important, HAPPY young man, ready to take all that he has learned in to the real world.

Thank you to all of the amazing people at Telos for changing our family forever.

Telos is Right for Me!

Is Telos Right for You?

Telos offers hope to those who have run out of options.

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