The Compelling Case for Age-Specific Treatment: How Does My Child Benefit?

As a parent, you want what's best for your child. When it comes to their mental health, you want to ensure they're getting the best possible care. That's why age-specific treatment is so important.

There is a difference between a younger and an older teen emotionally, developmentally, and clinically. Their needs and wants are different, as is the way in which they process information and how they approach problems.

Moonridge Academy's therapeutic environment allows young people to grow and find themselves. The entire program is designed with their emotional and developmental needs in mind. This makes sure they can thrive as an adult when it's time for high school or college applications. And all that life holds beyond!

The following benefits are just a few of those experienced by students at Moonridge Academy:

Age-Appropriate Therapy

One of the main benefits of age-specific treatment is that it allows your teen to receive appropriate therapy for their age group. Our therapists are specifically trained to communicate effectively with a younger teen who might struggle to express their feelings and thoughts. When words are hard to find, we understand the need for experiential kinds of therapy. This can be a huge relief for your teen and can make recovery much easier.  

Experiential therapies at Moonridge include sand tray therapy (the use of figurines and a sandbox to recreate relationships and scenes in a way that allows the student to reveal deep thoughts and feelings subconsciously), play therapy, art therapy, equine-assisted therapy, and adventure therapy experiences that improve self-esteem, encourage teamwork, work on trust issues and set patterns for overcoming fears.

Individualized Treatment

Treatment at Moonridge is individualized to each student's unique needs. Your teen will receive care tailored to them and their struggles. They won't have to worry about being lumped into a group of students dealing with different issues. Instead, they'll be able to focus on their recovery.

Each student at Moonridge Academy has their Treatment Plan developed by their primary therapist with input from the treatment team. This plan is specifically designed for each student and helps guide treatment for a student throughout their stay at Moonridge. In addition, our Treatment Team reviews each student's treatment during regularly held treatment team meetings to ensure that students are progressing.

Time for Play and Fun

Your teen will still be a teenager while they're in treatment. So they'll still need time to play and have fun. Moonridge Academy understands this and provides plenty of opportunities for students to relax and have fun.

Because of the great need for structure, most residential treatment centers that work with varying age groups end up being too structured for younger teens. Moonridge students like to play! They like to do arts/crafts projects, celebrate holidays, and be outside with the animals.

Equine Therapy and Horseback Riding

Moonridge Academy has an on-site equine therapy program. This means your teen will be able to work with horses during their treatment. Equine therapy is an excellent way for your teen to build trust, learn responsibility, and work on communication skills.

Animals can be highly therapeutic. Moonridge students ride, groom, and work with horses. Students have the opportunity to take riding lessons and become skilled equestrians. Moonridge feels strongly that this work with horses is ideal for younger teens.

More Protective Environment

Because Moonridge Academy only accepts younger students, the campus provides a more protective environment. This can be highly beneficial for students who have been through trauma or struggle with anxiety or depression.

The small campus and low student-to-staff ratio assure that every student feels safe and comfortable. As a result, students are able to form healthy connections with others and a more profound sense of self-awareness.

Moonridge's age limitation means students don't get exposed to "older teen issues and behaviors" as much. As a result, Moonridge could be metaphorically likened to a therapeutic "Middle School" or "Junior High," while traditional treatment centers could be compared to "High School."

Better Group Therapy

Group therapy is an integral part of treatment at Moonridge Academy. Because all students are in the same age group, they can relate to each other in a way that's impossible at traditional treatment centers.

They can share their experiences and struggles with each other without feeling judged. This allows for a much more open and honest environment in group therapy. Students are able to build meaningful relationships with their peers during treatment.

Younger teens tend to open up more in group therapy and worry less about "looking dumb" when older students aren't present. This creates a more productive group therapy experience for everyone involved.

Group therapy options at Moonridge Academy include art therapy, equine therapy, self-esteem groups, self-care, DBT and so much more. 


Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), first developed by Marsha Linehan, is a staple therapy modality provided at Moonridge Acdemy. DBT was originally developed for the treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder, but has since been found to be extremely effective in skill building for a variety of clinical issues. Students struggling with emotional dysregulation, depression, anxiety, as well as many other challenges, can quickly learn and develop life skills to help balance the logic and emotion in any situation. Because of the effectiveness of DBT, Moonridge Academy is a DBT infused program. We teach the DBT skills in a way that younger teens can understand. As a student progresses through the stages at Moonridge Academy, they will first learn DBT skills and then how to apply them into her everyday life. DBT skills are taught in group therapy session, as well as practiced in individual and family therapy. Each of our monthly Adventure Therapy 3-day trips has a DBT skill as it's theme. This skill is then learned and practiced throughout the trip.

Both therapists AND program staff are thoroughly trained and practiced in DBT skills. We believe the DBT assumption that everyone is doing their best AND we can all do better. This fits perfectly into the philosophy of acceptance and growth at Moonridge Academy.


Moonridge Academy is a residential treatment center that specializes in working with younger teens aged 12-15, grades 6-9. We provide individualized treatment plans, equine therapy, and a more protective environment than traditional treatment centers. Call us today to learn more!