Mission Mountain School

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Mission Mountain School was a therapeutic boarding school for girls located in Condon, Missoula County, Montana. It operated from October 1, 1990 to August 16, 2008.[1] On that date, the school graduated its last class and ceased operation, announcing that its founders would be on sabbatical.[2]

Program description[edit]

The school enrolled girls ages 13 to 18, offering therapy, college preparatory education, and recreation for girls of above average intelligence who were "in crisis." It operated year-round and the average length of enrollment was 18 to 22 months.[3] The curriculum was divided into four program components: daily life skills, outdoor recreation, emotional growth and academics. An equine-guided education program was offered.[4]

A graduate of the program stated that the school used behavior modification to give students structure and provided psychoanalytic counseling to help students understand the sources of their negative behaviors.


The appropriateness of practices at the school have been disputed. One alumnus testified before Congress regarding abusive practices, exploitative interventions, educational neglect and the lack of mental health training of staff.[5][6] [7] One psychiatrist who also testified before Congress noted his own horror at the accounts of 'blatant abuse in the name of treatment and therapy' at the school and other poorly regulated therapeutic boarding schools. [8]

Yet another former participant has said that the program induced students into "self-obliterating submission" by instilling fear.[9]

Accreditation and affiliations[edit]

Mission Mountain School operated as an accredited member of the Pacific Northwest Association of Independent Schools (PNAIS)[10] and the Northwest Association of Accredited Schools (NAAS),[11] and was a full member of the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP).[11][12] It was also affiliated with the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA).[4]


  1. ^ Letter from Mission Mountain school to Alumni and Supporters announcing closure of the school and the sabbatical for its staff
  2. ^ John Mercer and Colleen Harrington, A Message from John and Colleen, Mission Mountain School website, August 8, 2008
  3. ^ Entry on PNAIS website, accessed August 1, 2008
  4. ^ a b Residential Programs and Boarding Schools Links, Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association website, accessed January 4, 2009
  5. ^ Kathryn Whitehead - Text of Congressional Testimony from Alumnus of Mission Mountain School on"Child Abuse and Deceptive Marketing by Residential Programs for Teens April 24, 2008"
  6. ^ Kathryn Whitehead - Video of Congressional Testimony from Alumnus of Mission Mountain School on"Child Abuse and Deceptive Marketing by Residential Programs for Teens April 24, 2008"
  7. ^ Letter submitted by Mission Mountain School to Congressman George Miller, Chairman, Committee on Education and Labor, to be included in the public record for testimony on HR 5876.
  8. ^ - Dr. Christopher Bellonci, Congressional Testimony - "Child Abuse and Deceptive Marketing by Residential Programs for Teens" April 24, 2008
  9. ^ Michelle Chen, At Some Youth Treatment Facilities, Tough Love Takes Brutal Forms, The New Standard, November 21, 2005
  10. ^ PNAIS Accreditation website listing; Mission Mountain School received re-accreditation in 2005.
  11. ^ a b Frequently Asked Questions, Mission Mountain School website, accessed June 2, 2010
  12. ^ NATSAP Program Directory listing for Mission Mountain School, archived October 12, 2007

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 47°30′22″N 113°42′30″W / 47.50611°N 113.70833°W / 47.50611; -113.70833