Insider’s Guide: List of (Almost All) Therapeutic Boarding Schools

I get loads of calls and emails every month for advice on how to find the best therapeutic boarding school. Unfortunately, there is no one-stop shopping list of schools so I’ve done my best to list them all out below. I’m sure I’ve missed some. By the time this is posted, there will probably be a few new ones that pop up, a few that changed their name or got gobbled up by a big company. If you have updates, feel free to email me and I’ll post the new info here. This is not meant to be an endorsement of these programs, just a list. As I visit schools that do great work, I generally will do a blog post about what I’ve found and why I like what they’re doing.

Academy at Sisters

62895 Hamby Rd Bend, OR 97701
Female Only, High School, Junior High School, Licensed


60 Hicksville Rd. Cromwell, CT 06416
Coed, High School, Junior High School, Licensed, Pre-Teen, Religious

Alabama Institute for Deaf and…

1209 Fort Lashley Ave. Talladega, AL 35160-2339
Coed, High School, Junior High School, Licensed, Pre-Teen

Allendale Association

600 W Grand Ave, Lake Villa, IL 60046
Coed, High School, Junior High School, Licensed, Pre-Teen


97 Whitney Avenue New Haven, CT 06510
34 Russo Place Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922
Coed, High School, Junior High School, Licensed

Kids Peace – Graham Lake Campus

16 Kidspeace Way Ellsworth, ME 04605
Coed, High School, Junior High School, Licensed

Kids Peace – Orefield, PA

5300 KidsPeace Drive Orefield, PA 18069
Coed, High School, Junior High School, Licensed

King’s Daughter School

412 West 9th Street Columbia, TN 38401
Coed, College Prep, High School, Junior High School, Licensed, Pre-Teen

La Amistad

1650 Park Avenue North Maitland, Florida 32751
Coed, High School, Junior High School, Licensed, Pre-Teen

Lake Mary Center

100 Lakemary Drive Paola, KS 66071
Coed, High School, Junior High School, Pre-Teen

Laurel Ridge Facility

17720 Corporate Woods Drive, San Antonio, TX 78259
Coed, High School, Junior High School, Licensed

Learning Clinic, The

473 Pomfret Rd, Brooklyn, CT 06234
Coed, High School, Junior High School, Licensed, Pre-Teen, Wilderness Program

Liahona Academy

325 W 600 N, Hurricane, UT 84737
High School, Junior High School, Licensed, Male Only, Pre-Teen

Life Development Institute

18001 North 79th Ave. Glendale, AZ 85308
Coed, College Prep, High School, Licensed

Little Keswick School

500 Little Keswick Lane, Keswick, VA 22947
High School, Junior High School, Licensed, Male Only, Pre-Teen

Logan River Academy

1683 S. HWY 89/91 Logan UT 84321
Coed, High School, Junior High School, Licensed, Pre-Teen

Luther Hall RTC

3911 20th Ave. S. Fargo, ND 58103
Coed, High School, Junior High School, Licensed, Pre-Teen, Religious

Main Place Youth

1111 North Main Street Kingman, KS 67068
Female Only, High School, Junior High School, Religious

Marsh Foundation

1229 Lincoln Highway Van Wert, Ohio 45891
Coed, High School, Junior High School, Licensed, Pre-Teen

Matheny School

65 Highland Ave Peapack, NJ 07977
Coed, High School, Junior High School, Licensed, Pre-Teen

May Center for Child Development

511 Main St, West Springfield, MA 01089
Coed, High School, Junior High School, Licensed, Pre-Teen


2600 Wayland Road Berwyn, PA 19312
Coed, High School, Junior High School, Licensed, Pre-Teen

Menninger Residential Treatment Program

12301 Main Street Houston, TX 77035
Coed, High School, Junior High School, Licensed, Pre-Teen

Meridell Achievement Center

12550 W Hwy 29 Liberty Hill, TX 78642
Coed, High School, Junior High School, Licensed, Pre-Teen

Mid-Pacific Institute

2445 Kaala Street Honolulu, Hawaii 96822
Coed, College Prep, High School, Junior High School, Pre-Teen

Midwest Center for Youth and Families

1012 W. Indiana Street Kouts, IN 46347
Coed, High School, Junior High School, Licensed, Pre-Teen

Monarch School

2815 Rosefield Dr. Houston, TX 77080
Coed, High School, Junior High School, Licensed, Pre-Teen

New Haven

228 West 400 North, Saratoga Springs, UT 84045
College Prep, Female Only, High School, Junior High School, Licensed

New Leaf Academy

63050 Dickey Rd, Bend, OR 97701
Female Only, High School, Junior High School, Licensed, Pre-Teen

Newport Academy

Conneticut, California, Pennsylvania
Coed, College Prep, High School

Northwest Academy

1130 SW Main Street Portland, OR 97205-2047
Coed, College Prep, High School

Northwest Academy

139 Success Lane Naples, ID 83847
Coed, College Prep, Middle School, High School

Northwest Children’s Home

602 13th St, Lewiston, ID 83501

Coed, High School, Junior High School, Licensed, Pre-Teen

Oaklawn, the Children’s Campus

1411 Lincolnway W, Mishawaka, IN 46544

Coed, High School, Junior High School, Licensed, Pre-Teen

Oliverian School

28 Becket Drive Pike, NH 03780

Coed, College Prep, High School

Paradise School – Catholic

6156 West Canal Road Abbottstown, PA 17301-8982
Coed, Junior High School, Pre-Teen, Religious


662 Scotia Rd, Newport, WA 99156
Coed, College Prep, High School

Providence Pass Girls Academy

866.738.2785 Orlando, Fl, 32836
High School, Female Only, Religious

Red Rock Canyon School

747 E St George Blvd St. George, UT 84770
Coed, High School, Junior High School, Licensed, Pre-Teen

S.A.I.L. at Ferncliff Manor

1154 Saw Mill River Road Yonkers, NY 10710
Coed, High School, Junior High School, Licensed, Pre-Teen

Saint Francis Center at Salina

5097 West Cloud Salina, KS 67401
Coed, High School, Junior High School, Licensed, Pre-Teen

San Marcos Treatment Center

120 Bert Brown Road, San Marcos, Texas 78666
Coed, High School, Junior High School, Licensed, Pre-Teen

Secret Harbor School

225 N. Walnut St., Burlington, Washington, 98233
Coed, High School, Junior High School, Pre-Teen

Shelterwood Academy

3205 N Twyman Rd, Independence, MO 64058
Coed, High School, Junior High School, Pre-Teen, Religious

Shortridge Academy

619 Governors Rd, Milton, NH 03851
Coed, College Prep, High School, Junior High School, Licensed

Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School

6245 S. Ingleside Avenue Chicago, IL 60637
Coed, High School, Junior High School, Licensed, Pre-Teen

Spaulding Youth Center

72 Spaulding Road Northfield, New Hampshire 03726
Coed, High School, Junior High School, Licensed, Pre-Teen

Spring Mountain Treatment Center

7000 West Spring Mountain Rd. Las Vegas, NV 89117
Coed, High School, Junior High School, Licensed, Pre-Teen

Spring Ridge Academy

13690 S. Burton Rd. Mayer, AZ 86333
Female Only, High School


105 Campus Drive Oneonta, NY 13820
Coed, High School, Junior High School, Pre-Teen, Religious

Stetson High School

455 South Street, Barre, MA 01005
High School, Junior High School, Licensed, Male Only, Pre-Teen

Stewart Home School

4200 Lawrenceburg Road Frankfort, Kentucky 40601
Coed, High School, Junior High School, Pre-Teen

Summit Preparatory

1605 Danielson Road Kalispell, MT 59901
Coed, College Prep, High School, Licensed

Summit School at Nyack

339 North Broadway Upper Nyack, NY 10960
Coed, College Prep, High School, Junior High School, Licensed

Sunrise Girl’s Home/Academy

65 N 1150 W, Hurricane, UT 84737
Female Only, High School, Junior High School, Pre-Teen

Sunrise School

13130 Burbank Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91401
Coed, High School, Junior High School, Pre-Teen, Autism, Developmental Disabilities

Uinta Academy

3746 South 4800 West Wellsville, UT 84339
Female Only, High School, Junior High School, Licensed, Pre-Teen

United Methodist Children’s Home

2002 S. Fillmore St., Little Rock
Coed, High School, Junior High School, Licensed, Pre-Teen, Religious

Villa Maria

2300 Dulaney Valley Road, Lutherville-Timonium, MD
Coed, Junior High School, Licensed, Pre-Teen, Religious

Villa Santa Maria

19 Cirguela Rd, Cedar Crest, NM 87008
Coed, Junior High School, Licensed, Pre-Teen, Attachment Issues

Visions Adolescent Treatment Program

33335 Mulholland Highway, Malibu, CA 90265
Coed, High School, Junior High School, Licensed

Wediko Children’s Services

11 Bobcat Blvd., Windsor, NH 03244
Coed, High School, Junior High School, Licensed

Wellspring Foundation, Inc.

21 Arch Bridge Road Bethlehem, CT 06751
College Prep, Female Only, High School, Licensed

Wildwood School

2995 Curry Road Extension, Schenectady, NY 12303
Coed, High School, Junior High School, Licensed, Pre-Teen

Willow Springs Center

690 Edison Way, Reno, NV 89502
Coed, High School, Junior High School, Licensed, Pre-Teen

Woods Services Mollie Woods Program

40 Martin Gross Dr, Langhorne, PA 19047
Coed, High School, Junior High School, Licensed, Pre-Teen

Addiction Industry Gets Exposed…Finally.

For years I’ve been talking about the unethical and illegal means by which mental health and substance abuse treatment centers advertise to and treat clients. And now, finally, in one of the most accurate portrals of the industry, The Verge published a fantastic piece on the aweful practices large addiction treatment centers. From the manipulative call centers to terrible and dangerous clinical work, Cat Ferguson (freelance reporter based in California) exposed the seedy underbelly of this mostly hidden industry, predominantly in Florida. She focuses on Aid in Recovery, a sketchy hotline with a bazillion different phone numbers and websites (all of which are owned by a parent company Treatment Management Company) that funnel prospective clients (with good insurance!) to one of their affiliated treatment centers around the country. AIR is not unique. Hundreds of huge companies fight, cheat and steel every day for referrals. My one critique is that Cat didn’t pull in examples from the mental health treatment centers which are as aggressive and sketchy. Same bad actors engaging in greedy behavior to get clients.

The article reaffirms why it’s so important to work with a therapeutic placement consultant or educational consultant who knows what to avoid and how to find the most effective treatment. Not a sales pitch – just a fact that a good consultant can sniff out the industry bullshit from a mile away.

Odyssey Behavioral Healthcare Buys Pasadena Villa and Lifeskills

Odyssey Behavioral Healthcare, a partnership between Nautic Partners, LLC and CEO Scott Kardenetz, announced it completed the acquisition of residential/outpatient mental health and addictions treatment providers Pasadena Villa (TN, FL) and Lifeskills South Florida (FL). Screen Shot 2015-08-22 at 9.23.56 AM

Odyssey, headquartered in Brentwood, TN, was formed to build a diverse platform of behavioral healthcare facilities across the treatment spectrum in psychiatric and addiction care.  Scott Kardenetz is a 25-year veteran with former leadership positions at Ardent Health Services, Psychiatric Solutions and Universal Health Services. Nautic and Odyssey plan to invest $50 million of equity capital to support its strategy of growth.

Behavioral Health mergers and acquisitions experts expect this trend to continue, with a growing emphasis on the development of a full continuum of services and settings which promises to be an even bigger market than the strictly luxury-leaning residential programs that historically been the focus of consolidation. 

About Odyssey Behavioral Healthcare

Odyssey Behavioral Healthcare was formed in 2015 as a partnership between Nautic Partners and Scott Kardenetz. Odyssey’s treatment centers include Pasadena Villa and Lifeskills, which provide adult residential treatment care in three primary facilities and outpatient care in Tennessee and Florida. Odyssey will seek to expand the platform through new development and acquisition. In developing its platform, Odyssey seeks to acquire and develop treatment facility leaders in their therapeutic niche and that can benefit from senior management leadership and support.

Muir Wood Expands… Reaching for Alta Mira Recovery

Scott Sowle, the founder and executive director of Muir Wood Adolescent & Family Services (Sonoma County, CA) teamed up with private investors to acquire the residential and outpatient addiction and co-occurring disorders treatment organization from Constellation Behavioral Health. Constellation Behavioral Health operates Alta Mira Recovery Programs in California.

Muir Wood will operate as a stand-alone program focused on youth treatment, run by founder and executive director Scott Sowle. They will be expanding their residential treatment capacity by adding a residential campus for adolescent girls program. Constellation Behavioral Health operates Alta Mira Recovery Programs in California. Muir Wood will expand its residential treatment capacity for young males from its present 6 beds to 10. The adolescent male program, housed on a six-acre campus, includes weekly family programming, experiential therapies, and an accredited academic program.

Insider’s Guide: Getting Insurance to Pay for Residential Treatment

imagesThis is our second installment on how to get insurance to pay for residential treatment and therapeutic programs. Below is some great information to help you beat the insurance companies at their own game. Insurance companies count on your ignorance, laziness and distractibility to avoid paying for services they are legally obligated to cover. 

With the Affordable Healthcare Act and the Mental Health Parity Act in full swing it’s time to learn how to get the most out of the insurance you pay for. We’ve included some tricks, strategies and how-to’s to help you out. Though we’re focusing on Residential Treatment for our discussion here, this info is applicable to therapeutic programs like wilderness programs, therapeutic boarding schools and intensive outpatient programs.

Ok, let’s get started with some basics… 

What If I Need Additional Help?

First, read through everything below. These strategies are time consuming and require steady attention but they are not impossible. If you still don’t feel confident in holding your insurer accountable, contact us for a free consult and we’ll help you figure out how to move forward. 

What is the Insurance Company’s Criteria for Residential Treatment?

…Or more importantly, how does an insurer define residential treatment? Each insurer has their own definition but most have virtually identical criteria. For our purposes, residential treatment is defined as specialized mental, behavioral health or substance abuse treatment that occurs in a residential (overnight) treatment center where the provider is responsible for clinical service, safety, shelter, and food.

Licensure differs by state, but these facilities are typically designated either as residential, subacute, or intermediate care facilities and may occur in care systems that provide multiple levels of care. Residential treatment is 24 hours per day and often requires a minimum of one physician (or psychiatrist) visit per week in a facility based setting. 

What Specific Criteria Do They Look For?

Now, let’s drill down a bit more and look at some of the more common criteria requirements insurance companies are looking for when determining whether to pay for residential treatment to a struggling teen or young adult. 

  • Was there a sincere attempt to first use evidence-based outpatient therapy in the home community by a licensed professional before residential treatment was requested and outpatient therapy did not work? Basically, they want evidence that you tried outpatient therapy with weekly sessions (or more often) and because it was not effective, a more intensive level of care like residential treatment was justified.
  • Prior to admission, did you contact your health plan for list of in-network residential treatment options? More on this later – what to do if you can not find a good option.
  • Is there uncontrollable risk-taking to self or others or other dangerous behavior?
  • Has there been a documentable and rapid decrease in level of functioning in one or more life domains. Another way to describe it is a decline in functioning resulting in the ability to perform self-care. 
  • Is there a likelihood of no improvement in current environment (ie. home or college)
  • Is there a reasonable expectation that patient will improve in residential setting and be able to return to outpatient therapy for aftercare? 

How to Request this Higher Level of Care?

Now that you understand the criteria, let’s talk about how to actually request residential treatment. 

  • Write a letter strongly recommending admission to residential treatment 
  • Provide copies of assessments and testing performed by a licensed professional that indicate 1) a formal diagnosis and 2) specific recommendations that list residential treatment.
  • Explain how outpatient therapy has not been successful
  • Explain why current circumstances make it unlikely that patient will show improvement (ie. Improvement is not likely in home setting due to social stressors such as negative peers that sell drugs but remain in the environment)
  • Document unsafe, declining behaviors – show symptoms and behaviors that represent a decline from usual state and include either self-injurious or risk-taking behavior that cannot be managed outside of 24 hr care. Can your kid maintain abstinence outside of 24 hr care? 
  • Explain that the residential treatment program uses evidence-based clinical interventions.
  • Request the residential treatment program directly contact your insurer for pre-authorization. Pre-authorization is the insurance company’s way of giving formal permission to use a higher (and more expensive) level of care. Make sure to obtain the tracking number and verification of the call from the residential treatment program. If approved, obtain written authorization confirming admission approval.

After you send off your request, your insurer should should respond in 5 days. Don’t wait that long – call them every day to find out the status of your request. Yes, seriously – call every day. 

Accepted! Now Some Additional Insurance Mandates

The insurance company accepted your request (more below on what happens when they do not accept it) and a wave of relief comes over you planning for some quiet time once your kid is safely transitioned. But before you get too comfy, there are a few things you want to make sure the residential treatment program will do to ensure insurance covers as much as possible. It’s easier to ask these questions during the admissions process rather than at discharge. Here’s a list of what to look for or ask for:

  • A basic physical during admission (urine screening for drug facility)
  • Onsite nursing and 24hr access to med care
  • Multidisciplinary assessment (also called a Biopsychosocial Intake) performed within 72 hr of admission, including information obtained from patient’s previous providers (ie. therapist, primary care physician)
  • Individual therapy with a licensed therapist (ie. LPC, LCSW, LMFT) at least one time per week
  • Weekly meetings with doctor for medication management
  • Weekly family therapy
  • Discharge plan created one week after admission which acts as a set of exit criteria
  • Licensed in the state in which they are located. Some facilities are owned by huge companies in another state. Make sure they are credentialed and licensed.

Denied. Now on to The Appeal Process

Denials are just a way of life in the therapeutic treatment world but it’s certainly not the end. Here are some information on what to do when you experience a denial.

  • First Thing – Do not let the denial get you mad and do not attempt to use logic, common sense or science to understand why. Insurance is a business and their business model is take in money and pay for as little service as possible – period. 
  • If residential treatment is verbally denied, request written denial. They must deny in writing and often will send the residential treatment program as well as the insured person a copy. 
  • Do not just ignore the denial and send your kid off unless you are willing to pay out of pocket and work your tail off at discharge to get the insurer to pay for it.
  • How to appeal depends upon the reason for denial. The insurance company will likely list specific criteria either your kid or the residential treatment program did not meet.
  • If the insurer states that residential treatment is not a covered benefit but they offer  other mental/behavioral health benefits, they are required by law to pay. In Harlick v Blue Cross of California – On August 26, 2011 the court confirmed that California’s Mental Health Parity Act requires health plans to provide coverage of “all medically necessary treatment” for “severe mental illnesses” under “the same financial terms as those applied to physical illnesses,” and are obligated to pay for residential treatment for people with eating disorders even if the policy excludes residential treatment.

And It’s Still Denied – What Next?

If you submit an appeal with additional information and site the law but still are denied or hear nothing, you can request an independent review from your state’s regulatory body that oversees insurance compliance. It’s amazing how quickly insurance companies can ‘find missing paperwork’ or reverse a denial when regulators and attorney’s get involved. 

  • Send a certified-mail cover letter describing the dispute
  • Provide all relevant evaluations, assessments and testing you already sent to the insurer
  • Submit a doctor’s letter stating care is medically necessary
  • You can also hire an attorney that specializes in insurance issues like this. They are often worth their specialist price tag.

Plan B – If You Can Afford It

If residential is denied and you don’t want to push the insurer for whatever reason, you can pay out of pocket for room and board and try to get the clinical services covered. This approach is often what is equivalent to out-of-network coverage. The insurer is more likely to cover outpatient therapy, group therapy and medication management (virtually the same as if client was living at home and going to therapy).

You can also request that the residential treatment primary therapist get a single case agreement which forces the insurer to pay at in-network rate and you only owe the copay, as usual. 

What if Our Family Member is at Therapeutic Boarding School?

With the growth of therapeutic boarding schools, we’ve received a ton of questions about how insurance pays for the clinical aspects of these hybrid programs. Here are some tricks we’ve picked up over the years:

  • Think like the insurance company – they want to hear your son or daughter is being referred to as a patient and not a student.
  • Make sure to request a physical assessment is done at admissions. This promotes the perspective that he/she is a patient and not a student. Remember – we want the insurer to understand this is a therapeutic program, not as much an academic program.
  • We also want to ensure the program is keeping daily records such as treatment plan updates, nursing and medical notes and service notes – health plans will want copies. We want to be documenting progress as well as setbacks. 

When we conduct placement services, we always request the therapeutic program develop a treatment plan with some specific exit criteria. The first day of treatment is the first day of discharge planning. Some plans will want exit criteria so err on the side of having the program provide it early on. It’s also a good clinical practice to give the providers a clear target. 

In Which State Should Insurance Regulators Be Notified if Insurance Refuses to Cooperate?

The state in which treatment is being provided is where insurance regulators should be contacted if your insurance company refuses to play nicely. The state in which you live may be where your insurance is attached, but legal oversight for provision of service and insurance regulation is in the treatment state. 

Can Insurance Pay for Services Retroactively?

Theoretically, yes. Practically, it’s pretty difficult and will require regular attention and contact with the insurer. They will likely ‘lose’ applications, claim forms and anything else you send. If you get insurance to agree to pay for residential treatment or other therapeutic services after treatment has started, you can request for retroactive coverage. It’s best to write a letter (and send it certified mail and keep a copy for your records) stating why you didn’t understand or it was not stated clearly in a policy that treatment was covered. 

Will Insurance Cover Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP)?

Partial Hospitalization Programs or PHPs is typically a level of care designed for individuals who need structured mental health, behavioral health or substance abuse programming but do not need 24-hour supervision (ie. inpatient or hosplitalization). Many hospitals and residential treatment programs offer partial hospitalization or day treatment services. Good PHPs are designed to provide support, education, medical monitoring and accountability during the hours of the day often identified as most troublesome for patients. Patients participate in therapeutic groups, structured activities and discharge planning similar to those offered in the inpatient and residential programs. Many patients who have been in an inpatient or residential program can “step down” to this level of care because it continues to provide a high amount of structure and support. 

Insurance generally covers PHP at a per diem rate (daily rate) but will not cover overnight which the hospital or treatment program may charge extra for. Make sure to clearly understand how the treatment center charges for PHP before signing up. Also make sure insurance covers it and what portion it covers. 

So we covered several of the topics and tricks that can help you navigate the insurance company maze when it comes to paying for residential treatment. If you need additional help, contact us today – 

Program Review: The Renfrew Center

Renfrew PicMany years ago I had the pleasure of visiting The Renfrew Center just outside of Philadelphia, PA. At first, I wasn’t sure if this was a gigantic private residence with it’s ancient stone farm house, stables, and quintessential barn. Definitely one of the more beautiful suburban locations for a treatment center I’ve seen. I had my tour of the grounds which look more like an upscale farm (in a good way), talked with the Executive Director about mental health under a giant oak tree, and got to know the program schedule as young women shuffled in and out of the various buildings. Below are more details on Renfrew with my Final Thoughts at the end. 


The Renfrew Center is headquartered in has been serving women with eating disorders and behavioral health issues since 1985. As one of the nation’s first residential eating disorder facility, with 16 locations throughout the country, Renfrew claims to have worked with more than 65,000 women since their founding. The Renfrew Center has experienced it’s most significant growth in the last decade and a half have with the additional of programs across the country. 


The Renfrew Center offers a full continuum of care that supports patients well beyond a residential stay. This comprehensive range of services available at most of their locations, includes day treatment, intensive outpatient and outpatient programs. The services are tailored for each patient and with her referring therapist to develop treatment plans and goals based on her unique needs.

Renfrew maintains continuity in philosophy and approach throughout the individual’s treatment, while facilitating timely transitions from one level of care to another in order to maximize treatment and insurance benefits. 

Residential services are only offered in their Philadelphia, Pa and Coconut Creek, Fl locations. 


Renfrew works with women over the age of 14 suffering from anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS) and related mental health problems.


Residential – $8050 per week
They work with most insurers so a significant portion of services may be covered. 

Employees on multiple sites give Renfrew some terrible grades for working conditions, diversity of the work force, and work-life balance. Most notably were many comments on Renfew’s seeming focus on profit and not much focus on treatment. They also described poor, untrained supervisors that did little to organize chaotic situations. 

Clients on the other hand often report having a positive experience and feeling somewhat nurtured. There were dozens of reports from clients going back to Renfrew multiple times for support. This could be viewed as good or bad. 
The New York location stood out with many, many negative reviews which highlights an ongoing theme among larger providers like Renfrew – when it comes down to actual effectiveness of a program, everything has to do with the clinicians at specific locations and very little to do with the corporate handlers up above. 


Here is a link to their online contact form which is probably the best way to get ahold of them. 

Final Thoughts
Oh how I wish programs like Renfrew could just slow down and focus more on quality. I’ve known too many therapists over the years who think poorly of Renfrew’s clinical integrity to feel comfortable referring clients that come to Fonthill. That said, it doesn’t mean women struggling with an ED should avoid Renfrew. I think programs like this have a place in the menu of options, especially if you want treatment close to a major metro area like Philadelphia. Just make sure to make a decision on more than what the admissions folks at Renfrew tell you. Look up reviews, talk with outpatient eating disorder specialists (like Dr. Joanna Marino in Washington, DC) or placement specialists (…like Fonthill ) and do your homework. It’s expensive and takes a huge amount of time to go to Renfrew so don’t rush in. 

Getting Insurance to Pay for Residential Treatment

imagesSince paying for therapeutic treatments like residential treatment, intensive outpatient program and therapeutic boarding school with insurance is a big topic we’ve broken this into a few different posts. Today, we’re starting with the basics of the health care act that tightens up the requirements for insurers. Historically, insurance paid for outpatient services and residential treatment was only for more affluent families. But thanks to the mental health parity act, insurers are not more responsible than ever for paying for higher levels of care. 

What’s the Mental Health Parity Act?

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) requires many insurance plans that cover mental health or substance use disorders to pay for coverage for those services that are no more restrictive than the coverage for medical/surgical conditions. Basically, if they pay for medical stuff, they have to pay for mental health and substance abuse stuff – that’s the ‘parity’ part. 

What Does it Cover?

  • Copays, coinsurance, and out-of-pocket maximums
  • Limitations on services utilization, such as limits on the number of inpatient days or outpatient visits covered
  • Coverage for out-of-network providers
  • Criteria for medical necessity determinations

MHPAEA does not require insurance plans to offer coverage for mental illnesses or substance use disorders in general, or for any specific mental illness or substance use disorder. It also does not require plans to offer coverage for specific treatments or services for mental illness and substance use disorders. However, coverage that insurance plans do offer for mental and substance use disorders must be provided at parity (the same) with coverage for medical/surgical health conditions.

The original MHPAEA was enacted in October of 2008. The main purpose of MHPAEA was to fill the loopholes left by the previous Mental Health Parity Act was legislation signed into law on September 26, 1996 that requires that annual or lifetime dollar limits on mental health benefits be no lower than any such dollar limits for medical benefits offered by a group health plan.

What if My Plan is Not in Compliance?

Before escalating things and contacting state or federal officials, contact Fonthill to see how to ‘encourage’ the insurers to provide appropriate coverage (look for future blog posts on how to communicate and educate your insurers for coverage). If you still have concerns about your plan’s compliance with MHPAEA, you can contact the Feds or your State Department of Insurance. You can contact the Department of Labor at 1-866-444-3272 or You can also contact the Department of HHS at 1-877-267-2323 ext 61565 or at or your State Department of Insurance at

Check back next time when we explore some tricks to getting insurance to pay for treatment – it’s what the insurance companies don’t want you to know. 



FREE Parent Support Group: Residential Treatment and Higher Levels of Care

If you are a parent who wants to learn more about residential treatment for your teen or young adult child, our Parent Support Group is for you. This group is specially designed for Parents of Teens and Young Adult Children either in residential treatment or in need of residential treatment. Whether you have an acting out teen obsessed with gaming or a daughter exhibiting what seems like an eating disorder, residential treatment may be an option. But how do you choose? How do you know the good ones from the bad? We will walk you through the basics of the therapeutic program world through a discussion format. 

Topics will range from residential and treatment options, how to creatively pay for programs and use insurance, myths vs reality of treatment, parenting advice and skill building, and finally, sharing and venting. This is also an open forum to address any other problems related to acting out teens/adults – you’re not alone. 


Mondays 7:00pm Starting September 8


Fonthill Counseling Conference Room – 141 Providence Rd Suite 160 Chapel Hill NC 27514




Licensed therapist with expertise in residential treatment, counseling and parenting education will lead didactic, interactive and experiential sessions.  


Due to limited seating, preregistration is required. Please email us at help@fonthillcounseling for sign-up instructions.