Our purpose is to give guidance and direction to troubled teenage boys and girls, pointing them toward a better life. During the Shepherd’s Hill Academy Therapeutic Wilderness Program, your teen will reside in one of our two outdoor therapeutic environments (one for teenage boys and one for teenage girls), as well as attend school in segregated classrooms. Our program is built on the concept of one-on-one therapeutic mentoring and counseling. This residential wilderness program is designed specifically to remove modern distractions from the life of your troubled teen and to help the adolescent start thinking about the important things in life — home, family, relationships, responsibilities, and his or her future.

Shepherd’s Hill Academy employs a variety of therapeutic approaches to counseling, mentoring, and healing. One such approach is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT is utilized to provide evidence-based treatment for adolescents with specific disorders and symptom-based diagnosis. CBT is based on the belief that outward behaviors and thinking are caused by our way of thinking rather than external factors such as people, situations, and events. In application, this approach empowers students to change the way they think in order to feel and act in a more positive and healthy way, even if situations and things around them do not change.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a psychotherapeutic approach that addresses dysfunctional emotions, maladaptive behaviors, and cognitive processes through a number of goal-oriented explicit systematic procedures. It recognizes that care is individualized, ever-changing, and involves uncertainties and probabilities.

The therapeutic landscape of Shepherd’s Hill Academy provides therapy and healing through adventure, exercise and sports, counseling, and participation in Equine Relational Therapy (ERT) and Family Sessions for the Adolescent. The skilled therapeutic counseling staff at Shepherd’s Hill Academy works closely with the wilderness residential team to implement approaches that are most effective for your troubled teen. The goal of our qualified team of residential staff and counselors is to implement the approach that will most effectively support your teen’s individual treatment plan, producing optimal results.

The Achenbach Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL)

Your teenager’s therapeutic journey begins with the Achenbach Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL). A troubled teen’s CBCL is completed in his or her first session. This checklist measures the maladaptive behaviors and emotional distress of each student that enters Shepherd’s Hill Academy.
Upon a troubled teen’s completion of the CBCL, an individual treatment plan is developed. This individualized treatment plan is based on CBCL results as well as psychological evaluations, the student interview, and parental admission information.
Shepherd’s Hill Academy is prepared for changes in your troubled teen to take place throughout his or her stay at our therapeutic wilderness program. In-service meetings are held and completed quarterly in order to update and revise your student’s therapeutic plan throughout his or her stay at Shepherd’s Hill Academy. CBCL testing is also completed upon graduation from the therapeutic program in order to provide parents with a complement measurement of the progress and success of their teen.

The Therapeutic Team

The Therapeutic and Residential Teams at Shepherd’s Hill Academy work directly with your troubled teen, providing 24/7 supervision and care. Your child’s therapist works with the outdoor residential team and the academic staff in order to be kept abreast on any ongoing CBT homework your child may be working through. The Residential Team assists your child by coaching him or her through emotional distressing situations and recalling Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) techniques discovered in therapy. This allows students to feel supported as they train themselves to evaluate their feelings, practice mindful thinking, and react to situations based on facts rather than emotions. Residential team members are able to sanction such homework by providing a structured environment through our exclusive Relationship Model.
Residential Team members oversee daily activities intentionally used for therapeutic gain. Some of the activities that troubled teens engage in during their stay include gardening, working with animals, building structures, fishing, nature hikes, etc.
The combination of these therapeutic activities offers your teenager a unique adventure that equips him or her with the tools necessary in order to cultivate strengths and address weaknesses. The end result is spiritual, emotional, physical, and character healing and development.
Shepherd’s Hill Academy offers a variety of therapeutic programs for our students. These programs include:

Equine Relationship Therapy

Approximately two weeks after enrollment, your teen will select the horse that will accompany him or her during each of his or her weekly Equine Relationship Therapy (ERT) sessions. The relationship between each teenager and equine provides an ideal bond that is built up throughout the duration of your child’s stay. This bond beautifully enhances therapy, raising the benefits and productivity to new heights.
Each week, our ERT team provides your teen with weekly therapeutic equine activities specifically designed to facilitate character development as well as healthy attachment. ERT also provides your child a chance to engage in therapy more objectively by observing the horses’ responses to situations and relating it to real life personal experiences.

Our ‘Milieu’ Approach

The Shepherd’s Hill Academy Therapeutic Wilderness Program beautifully combines the building of trust and teamwork, lessons from nature, and academic education. Wilderness living is joined with the on-site academy where students learn from our top quality educators.
Equine Relationship Therapy is utilized to enhance behavioral, relational, emotional, and spiritual growth. Within time, our students progress to the Next Step Program after they have learned to accept responsibility for personal decisions, address individual and family issues, and invest in their own personal and academic growth.

Accredited Education

In addition to therapy, we provide a fully-accredited year-round school with transferable courses commensurate with the educational requirements of the Quality Core Curriculum within the state of Georgia. We provide each graduate with a high school diploma.
We have designed our program to meet the following objectives:

  • To teach students how to learn and think analytically
  • To teach decision making for a positive future
  • To guide each student into career decisions appropriate to his or her gifting and abilities
  • To develop the self-concept of the learner through positive educational experiences
  • To give students a quality education in preparation to be productive members of society
  • To meet the requirements for graduation as set forth by the State of Georgia