Guidelines for Education in      
Therapeutic and Emotional Growth Programs
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hen programs with a treatment or personal growth emphasis offer schooling, we generally expect educational services to be basic, but responsive to the needs of the students.  We do expect what is done to be done competently and appropriately.  We do expect schools deliver what they promise.  We expect these schools and programs to examine the educational needs of students before admitting them and decline to admit students whose needs cannot be met. 

Two principles are fundamental:  Deliver what is promised and make sure teaching is integrated with the change process of the larger program. 

When we say “Deliver what is promised,” we refer in part to meeting accreditation standards.  We prefer that schools be regionally accredited, although we believe some schools do an excellent job without being accredited and their students rarely run into problems transferring credit.  In addition we are not supremely confident that accrediting organizations consistently hold their members to their published standards.  For that reason, we do not set a firm guideline that schooling in a behavioral change or therapeutic facility must be accredited.  But when a program claims that accredited schooling is available, our guidelines call for the student having access to the full resources called for in the published accreditation standards of the accrediting body, even if the accreditation agency has overlooked compliance in some areas when granting accreditation.  

We note that in some instances, programs and schools claim educational accreditation based upon functioning as essentially a “branch campus” of another school whose resources are the basis for the accreditation.  Whether or not the accrediting agency has sanctioned the arrangement, we consider it misrepresentation for the program with the “branch campus” arrangement to promote itself as accredited by the stated accrediting group, unless the students being schooled the branch campus have the full resources available to them on that campus that are needed to meet the accreditation standards. 

Particularly in the state of Utah where so many schools and programs are based, we question whether programs claiming accreditation in all cases actually meet published NAAS and state accreditation standards.  This is particularly concerning in the “branch campus” situation described in the previous paragraph.  This is particularly troubling to us, as Utah has a large concentration of schools and programs of interest to us, and we would like it to be a positive trend-setter for the nation. 

Integration of services in schools and programs is also addressed in Guidelines on Integration.    In a change process, it is important that all aspects of the program including school are integrated. That means among other things that teachers actively support the change process or therapeutic efforts of the program and that the change process supports education.  If there are learning difficulties of concern to education staff, the entire program participates in accommodations that may be necessary to any part of the change process that involves learning.  For example, much of substance abuse treatment usually involves didactic learning.  This requires that students with language based learning disabilities have the opportunity for accommodations for reading and listening to lectures not just for the classroom, but also for the therapeutic program.

We expect the educators to adhere to sound principles of the education profession even when necessary to challenge the upper management of the program in order to do so.  We expect the managers of the program to respect this.  This sounds basic but we don’t always see it in practice.

The first responsibility of the educational component of any change oriented school is to make sure that every student leaves that school or program with the skills and confidence needed to pursue successfully the educational pursuits necessary to a productive life. 

Feedback is invited. We will  publish selected feedback.  Email

Disclaimer: No  program review, no matter how positive, is a blanket endorsement. No criticism is a blanket condemnation.  When we express our level of confidence in a school or program, that is our subjective opinion with which others might reasonably disagree.  When we assert something as fact, we have done our best to be accurate, but we cannot guarantee that all of our information is accurate and up to date. When we address compliance with our guidelines, you need to remember that these are only OUR guidelines -- not guidelines from an official source.  We have also set the bar very high, and do not expect any school or program to be in total compliance.  It is not appropriate to draw a conclusion of impropriety (or even failure to live up to conventional wisdom) from our lack of confidence in a school or program or from less than perfect conformity to our guidelines.  Some will say we expect too much. Readers are responsible for verifying accuracy of information supplied here prior to acting upon it. We are not responsible for inaccuracies.

Last updated January 17, 2009

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