Despite the fact that they are now more popular than ever before, a residential treatment center is not a new concept. In fact, the idea of an in-house treatment center can be traced all the way back to the 1600s. During this time, the Poor Law was established in Great Britain. The goal of this law was to allow children to be taken from their homes and be trained in different apprenticeships while living in group homes. This system was not integrated into the US until the 1800s.
Unlike today, where treatment centers focus on problems such as addiction, substance abuse and behavioral problems, the old system primarily involved putting mentally ill children in jail. The jail was not a form of punishment for the children, but it was seen as the only option as their families simply did not know how to deal with mental illnesses at home or how to handle the children. It wasn’t until the 1900s that this practice began to change when Ana Freud and an exclusive group of peers began to expand the idea of residential treatment centers to also include children and adults with emotional, mental and behavioral problems.
Freud’s initial concept and theory continued to expand and evolve over the years. By the 1980s, the foundations of residential treatment and its associated centers were much more concrete and developed. Along with the expanded group of patients and ailments, cognitive behavioral therapy began to be widely used throughout child psychiatry. When used in conjunction with the business model for residential treatment centers, this innovative behavior therapy produced impressive results.
Aside from cognitive behavioral therapy, attachment therapy was also introduced and integrated into the centers. The goal of these two behavior therapies was to provide the necessary help for the number of children and adolescents who are victims of abuse and neglect and seek treatment at a residential treatment center.