Montana Academy Students

There is no one type of Montana Academy student, albeit most students share some common attributes and predicates. All are teenagers. All are high-school students. All Montana Academy students are innately bright, talented and full of promise. Their families stand behind them, actively participate, and remain engaged in their student’s lives throughout their enrollment.  

Prior to enrollment, Montana Academy students have experienced some kind of progressive, global breakdown. Repetitive and worsening symptoms and various difficulties have touched most or all venues in their modern adolescent lives: at school, in extracurricular activities, at home, amongst peers, and all by themselves. Attempts to resolve these problems while they continued to live at home —with good advice, competent outpatient therapy and/or medications—have not been successful. The risk/ reward ratio became too great to continue on an outpatient basis.

Most students have completed a challenging wilderness program, and are healthy and strong enough to participate in the Academy’s vigorous outdoor activities.

To join the community, Montana Academy students have all met safety criteria. For a ranch has its limitations. Prospective students must demonstrate (e.g., at wilderness) an ability and willingness to engage, cooperate, control themselves, and be mindful about others’ well-being and their own. Montana Academy does not enroll  young people who are acutely suicidal, psychotic, assaultive, uncooperative, actively drug-seeking or determined to run away.

There is not any typical symptom or formal diagnosis shared in common among Montana Academy students. The campus is diverse in this way, as in other ways. Over the years young people have brought to Montana Academy a variety of DSM-V diagnoses, a long cumulative list of signs and symptoms, and have experienced a variety of challenges.

Notably, Montana Academy is not a primary alcohol or drug rehabilitation center. For this reason, Montana Academy does not accept teenagers who still avidly seek mind-altering substances, or who require this specific focus to be at the forefront of their therapeutic work. However, Montana Academy always has on campus many young people with compulsive habits including substance use, technology/gaming use and other compulsive, maladaptive coping styles. 

Montana Academy Parents

As a group Montana Academy parents are professionally diverse, but similarly well-educated. They hail from around the country and internationally and share a warm, intelligent interest in healthy students.

Montana Academy families take parenting seriously. As a group, families have recognized that they need not blame themselves for all their students’ struggles but nevertheless must see themselves as able and willing participants in their solution. They share a common desire to help, to pitch in, to participate. They are routinely willing to reconsider, ready to be accountable, avid to learn, and open to doing things differently if they can see a better way.

These are not only self-interested contributions. Montana Academy parents have been willing to join the larger community of mothers and fathers, to sustain a collective culture, and to collaborate with and support the work of the staff. They have encouraged one another with empathy, taught one another with tactful honesty, and have been affectionate and hopeful about each other’s children.

This is a remarkable culture, which has a great deal to do with Montana Academy’s outcomes.