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How Much Do Young Adult Transitional-living Programs or Treatment Cost?

This is the second blog discussing/aggregating data about cost of treatment. The first blog was published this summer after receiving many emails inquiring, “How much does wilderness therapy cost?” It was then that I realized that everyone is attempting to figure out the cost of a particular type of treatment. Most families first being introduced to the concept of family-systems therapy do not realize the powerful and abundant options “out there” already, e.g, residential, outpatient, young adult vs adolescent, wilderness therapy, in-home family coaching, et cetera! And, after narrowing down the options to the desired milieu, Young Adult Treatment remains difficult to evaluate based solely on cost, due to widely varying programming, location, intensity and levels of care.

For simplicity’s sake, we continue to use the previously identified 6 Varieties of Emerging Adult Treatment. Please note that these are not “industry standard” categories, but are used here for the purpose of assisting readers in making apples-to-apples associations. 

  1. Young Adult (and Older) Residential Treatment
  2. Integrated Therapy with Residential Housing
  3. Outpatient Model, Transitional Young Adult with Housing
  4. Mentoring Support/Apartment Living
  5. Gap Year with Supports, Collegiate Experience
  6. Gap Year with International Travel/Community Service

For the purpose of this blog, I focus this blog on levels 2 – 5.

Please take a moment and understand that if you are an emerging adult, or family member of a young adult, it is recommended to not make a decision regarding affordability based entirely on “list prices.” Billing schedules, funding options, the potential for insurance reimbursement, and other factors can all directly influence your out-of-pocket cost. There is a lot of nuance to these numbers, and by just looking at them and excluding certain options, you are doing a disservice to the process of looking at treatment options. It is always, always worth having a conversation with an admissions representative.

I surveyed over 28 different treatment programs/transitional living programs, which range in their own levels of care, from 11 different states and include Puerto Rico and Costa Rica. The average cost per month is $10,700 and the average enrollment fee is $1500.00; the range in monthly tuition was from $4000/month to $16,000. (Hint: Higher costs could indicate a shorter length of stay and higher levels of care/acuity served.) Additionally, many of these programs have different prices based on the phases of treatment that often titrate down over time or the level of support needed, so that over time, the costs go down as less services are needed.

What I most enjoyed about completing this survey is that many of the treatment programs that responded also shared additional information regarding the breadth and depth of programming and clinical services they offer and how they teach life skills at the same time as assisting in a transitional living experience. For example, there were numerous programs that had an included component in the fee for a student bank account, set up at enrollment to help develop fiscal responsibility. Many programs include parent coaching as part of their fee to support parents as their young adult leaves home. Additionally, some programs assist in billing health insurance to ensure the proper therapeutic supports are in place. The differences between the cost of programs are most closely related to the following supports or services provided by the program:

  • Licensed therapist on staff/in house vs. clients seeing a therapist in the community
  • Housing included in monthly cost vs. billed separately
  • Overnight awake staff vs nighttime staff who are sleeping but available for urgent help vs having staff only on call overnight
  • Peer mentors vs. Professional mentors
  • Because clients benefit from real-world practice of the skills they learned in intensive residential treatment programs, some offer “step down” programing for appropriate clientele.
  • Education credits as a part of internal programming vs. not included/available through other institutions (e.g., a college or university or providing high school completion)
  • Accredited or Licensed (either by a state or national body) vs not accredited or licensed
  • Insurance possible for a portion of the cost vs. all “out of pocket” payment

My intention was for this blog to be about comparing apples to apples, but alas, it is impossible. There are too many different types of fruit in this mix – and there are even “fruit” that some people consider vegetables (like tomatoes or avocados). Costs vary between $4000/mo. and $16,000/mo., with length of stay, levels of integrated clinical support, and acuity served being the primary factors influencing cost, but end-user out-of-pocket costs can vary even more than list prices, due to factors such as insurance reimbursements or ancillary services needed.

Do your homework. Call the admission person. Or better still, hire a professional to assist you through the process, especially if you have a limited amount of money/resources or time.


Note to the reader: This blog did not include sober living homes in its data.



About the Author

Jenney Wilder, M.S.Ed launched All Kinds of Therapy in 2015, as the only independent online directory for the Family Choice Behavioral Healthcare Industry. With an impressive case of ADHD and her starter career in the 90’s in Silicon Valley, the dream for creating a website with features like side-by-side comparison and an integrated newsletter was born. Jenney stopped counting treatment centers and all types of schools that she has visited when she hit 500 many years ago. She was the sponsoring author of the only Economic Impact Study of the Family Choice Behavioral Healthcare Industry, which revealed the only true financial figures about this industry (in Utah). Jenney has a Masters in Special Education from Bank Street College (NY) and a Bachelor of Arts focused on History from Wheaton College (MA).