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Montana Academy

Therapeutic Boarding School

Montana Academy Program Information

Gender: Coeducational
Ages: 14 to 17
Grades: 9 to 12
Estimated Enrollment: 70
Length of Stay:
Program was founded in: 1997
Accreditations: Affiliations:

Montana Academy Contact Information

Address:
9705 Lost Prairie Rd.
Marion, MT 59925
Phone: (406) 755-3149
Fax: (406) 755-3150
Email: rosemarym@montanaacademy.com
Website: www.montanaacademy.com
School Contact: Rosemary McKinnon, LCSW
Alternative Contact: John Santa, Ph.D.
Therapy Provided?: Yes

Program Description:

Montana Academy is a school for young people ages 14 to 17 at crisis points in their lives. Many of our students have endured traumas, struggled with learning difficulties or school or social failure. Many have emotional symptoms which have disrupted their ability to function on a day-to-day basis.



Montana Academy, a therapeutic boarding school, emphasizes both treatment and education. We endeavor to provide sophisticated clinical expertise in a simple environment. On a remote Montana ranch, the school combines an emotional growth curriculum designed for psychologically troubled youth with a dual academic program—grounded in practical tasks to suit students disenchanted with and disengaged from conventional classrooms. Experienced clinicians, trained teachers and seasoned outdoorsmen integrate treatment and learning in the classroom, in the kitchen, on the ranch, on the river and around mountain campfires.

Family involvement is critical to a student’s success at Montana Academy. The individual therapy session is the occasion for family contact in the form of brief initial phone calls and then serious family therapy. The clinical supervisor also uses this time to form an alliance with parents to help them become an active part of the treatment team. Parent Workshops are offered twice a year to increase understanding of the program model, build relationships with other parents and aid in transition home. Visits occur during established academic breaks. In the beginning visits occur on campus. As students progress, they are able to return home for visits, usually 9-12 months into the program. Parents are also encouraged to participate in special wilderness trips.

Montana Academy anticipates that most of its students will return home to their own families within 16-18 months. For this reason the Academy staff work with families to resolve conflicts that must be settled prior to a safe homecoming. Such homecomings are predicated upon successful family negotiations with straight talk under the guidance of trained therapists, so that a student returns to a family that is changed for the better.

Montana Academy requires a formal application for acceptance into the program. The application, as well as interviews with parents or guardians, educational consultants and former treatment professionals, will determine whether Montana Academy is an appropriate option. Montana Academy prefers referrals though educational consultants in order to make a “good fit” more likely.

Experienced, trained clinicians provide comprehensive treatment that fosters a resumed momentum along the normative sequence of adolescent development. A sequential phase plan supporting solid progress through an expanding range of options encourages students to become more trustworthy, constructive, energetic and responsible in thinking and behavior. Advancement from each “clan” represents a step forward in the developmental and maturational process.

Students are organized into teams under the care of a clinical supervisor who leads the team’s group therapy four times each week. In addition, students meet with their clinical supervisor for individual therapy weekly.
Shared chores, classes and meals demonstrate the value of cooperation, the support of friendship, the need for straight talk. Campus work projects provide tangible proof of the relevance of knowledge, as well as occasions for learning how to learn. Accomplished projects—useful, visible and valued in the wider community—contribute to self-respect.

Experiential classes offer opportunities to explore one’s creativity and learn new skills. The Academy keeps a herd of horses, whose care provides work/study projects for a number of interested students. These students derive pleasure and growth from a closely supervised horsemanship program. Other experiential offerings might include lessons in photography, fly-fishing, and drama.

Montana Academy encourages a physical fitness ethic and emphasizes the potential result of individual effort and self-discipline, rather than conventional competitiveness. Cross-country running, trekking, skiing, hiking, cycling and rock climbing are readily available. Exploring Montana’s awesome beauty, challenging terrain and dramatic climate inspires curiosity about the universe, instills respect for nature and encourages students to grow strong and competent. Shared adventures during challenge weeks pull students and staff together, providing natural contexts for young people and adults to cooperate and speak frankly to one another. The grandeur of the wild gives perspective to personal problems and draws students away from materialism and narcissism.


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