All Kinds of News for August 03, 2016
Utah's first Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) conference will be occuring from August 22nd - August 23rd in Park City, UT. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Bob Babcock from Emory University, who will share how to integrate research in the neurobiology of autism and behavior analysis to design a support system for adults. This two-day event held the week of the Wilderness Therapy Symposium, and will have multiple sessions led by some of the industry leaders in Autism Spectrum methodologies and research.
There are still a few spaces left, so register today
The cost for attendance is $120. The conference blocked off rooms for conference attendees at the Canyon's Resort.
For any questions please contact Jason Cox at firstname.lastname@example.org or Josh Watson at email@example.com
Art at ViewPoint has tremendous value. As clients walk through the projects, come up with new concepts and experience different mediums, the teens truly look forward to this opportunity for self-expression. The curriculum allowa the student to self-reflect on their lives and personal situation. For those who struggle to communicate, the artistic process is another means for breaking through and allowing the kid to have another voice. The projects can also be shared with the individual’s therapist to act as a springboard to get into some other issues they might be dealing with. Even just the process of creation is something divine; it can be very satisfying and relaxing and can build new confidence with these kids. “Through my experience I know that art in treatment centers can truly get at the individual’s inner self and possesses healing elements” says Nate Pack.
Pack received his BFA from Utah State University with an emphasis on Illustration and his Master's Degree in Education and a teaching certification. Pack is an active artist in the community with paintings being sold in festivals and shows around the country (see natepack.com). He is consistently working on public commissions and murals around Utah. “I have found that my students take me more seriously as an working artist. I have enjoyed working with kids over the years, especially those who struggle to understand their worth and potential," said Pack who went on to add, "I enjoy teachings different things other than just subject matter, such as life skills and character education. I love my job and what I do with these kids."
ViewPoint Center, a mental health assessment center for teens ages 12-17, is located just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. With a program lasting 6-7 weeks, ViewPoint Center provides superior assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and stabilization for teens struggling with mental and behavioral issues such as suicidal ideation, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders. In a safe, personalized environment, ViewPoint helps teens focus on the healing process.
Evoke Therapy Programs at Cascades and Entrada are two of the first NATSAP programs to be endorsed as Research Designated Programs (RDP). To be a RDP a program must demonstrate the collection of data which measures student outcomes (YOQ) for an initial minimum of 6 months of collection with at least a 70% participation rate. Evoke Therapy Programs has been collecting outcome data since 2008 with a participation rate of almost 90%.
Evoke uses this information to provide optimal service to its clients and parents. Evoke’s research has been published many times over and used in countless clinical presentations. It provides clear evidence of the efficacy of Evoke's programs, and helps increase the understanding of the programs impact on youth, young adults and their families.
Evoke Therapy Programs at Entrada, in Santa Clara, Utah and Evoke Therapy Programs at Cascades, in Bend, Oregon provide innovative mental health treatment solutions for struggling teens, young adults and their families. Their programs foster lasting change utilizing the power of nature and Wilderness Therapy. They also offer Personal Growth Intensive Workshops for individuals and families who are looking to create dynamic changes in their life or to simply find the balance they are seeking. For more information please call 866.411.6600 or go to Evoke's web site at www.evoketherapy.com
PRN for Families is excited to announce our collaboration with Voyageur Outward Bound School. Families who enroll in Voyageur Outward Bound School’s Intercept courses will have the opportunity to take advantage of a post-course support program, offered exclusively to Intercept families by PRN for Families. PRN for Families, a therapeutic industry expert in home-based outreach and transition services, will provide guidance, support, and case consultation to families that builds off of the Intercept experience.
Through this collaboration, PRN for Families will provide customized transition support to participants of Voyageur Outward Bound School's Intercept courses, as well as to their families. Outward Bound Intercept Expeditions are specifically designed for families with teens struggling at home or in school. This highly structured and facilitated program removes students from the pressures and influences of home and school, and instead presents them with the healthy risks and real challenges of the natural world. Intercept courses focus on communication, conflict resolution and decision making tools.
Research demonstrates that families benefit from targeted therapeutic support and guidance as they navigate the transition home, and through this collaboration, Intercept families will be able to extend the support they receive beyond the wilderness and into the home. PRN for Families' Intercept Extended Care program is designed to support families in sustaining and further developing the lessons, tools and resources they have gained through their participation in Outward Bound’s Intercept program.
"We are excited to be able to offer PRN's therapeutic wrap-around support, parent guidance, and case-management services to families who are participating in the Voyageur Outward Bound School’s Intercept courses," said Charles Elias, PRN's Executive Director. "Outward Bound has a long-standing history of serving families, and their model has served as the foundation for many wilderness programs. We are honored to be able to collaborate with the Voyageur Outward Bound School to offer this extended care experience, and to connect with families that might not otherwise be aware that such support exists."
Both Voyageur Outward Bound School and PRN for Families share the goal of creating sustainable positive outcomes for participating families. PRN for Families services will be offered for all Voyageur Outward Bound School Intercept courses in 2016.
PRN for Families is a home-based support program that serves families who have children or young adults who are struggling, or for whom an out-of-home placement may be necessary. Since 2003, PRN for Families has offered intensive at-home intervention, crisis support, transition and reunification services that empower and support families so that they may live together successfully and safely. To learn more about PRN for Families’ services and programs, visit www.prnforfamilies.com.
Northwest Passage's experiential programming is often centered around nature and the arts, as is the case with our nationally acclaimed programming 'In a New Light'. Northwest Passages announces an additional element to our programming - Fresh AiR! Fresh AiR is an artist in residence project that is "designed to provide a therapeutic experience with the arts for our kids with talented artists and craftsmen."
Teaming up with artists from around the country to join and celebrate our kids and provide them with unique opportunities to shine. This spring Composer and pianist Eric Genuis made a stop on his "A Road Less Traveled" Tour to perform for our kids and to talk about the role music plays in our lives.
Hosted photographer Andrew Walsh who took a break from photo-shooting sports stars on the west coast, to do a three-day workshop where they dabbled in specialized photography like sunsets and portraits.
Next up was muralist, activist, and author Cait Irwin who spent the month at Schaefer Cabin, a local historical treasure, to do a collaborative mural project with our youth. The students spent the afternoons in the quietude of the Namekagon River sketching and writing poetry with Cait.
Recently, Northwest Passage students enjoyed acclaimed filmmaker and photographer Sachi Cunningham who left the beaches of sunny SoCal where she was busy filming surfers to talk with our girls about the power of water and mental health.
The Artist in Residence programming was made possible through the generous support of Friends of Passage and a grant from the St. Croix Valley Foundation, The Wisconsin Arts Board, Eastern National. Special thanks to everyone who helps to bring these opporunities to the students at Northwest Passage.
Northwest Passage has been working to restore hope for clients through innovative health services since 1978. Over 5,000 children and their families have been served at their residential treatment centers in northwestern Wisconsin. For information about Northwest Passage, please visit our website at www.nwpltd.org.
In July, Uinta Academy took all of the students to Jackson Hole, WY. There was a river rafting trip down the Snake River and hiking around Jenny Lake in Teton National Park. Our exploration activities provide the students to have an opportunity to have fun, explore a national park, learn and explore in nature. One of the most important learning aspects of our travels is every Uinta girl goes on these trips, so they can work on relationship development and use what they are learning in real time.
Uinta Academy is a fully licensed residential treatment center focused on working with young ladies ages 13-21. Uinta Academy is the nation’s leading multi-dimensional residential treatment center for adolescent girls, specializing in the treatment of identity development, attachment, and trauma based issues. In pursuit of relationship development, Uinta Academy utilizes a highly sophisticated equine program where every girl has her own horse to take care of and work with therapeutically. Uinta Academy’s clinically intense and sophisticated treatment program is balanced by a warm, nurturing, family-style living environment.
Keeping parents informed is on the top of the list at Summit Prep Montana. In addition to the quarterly newsletter, we have added a monthly online article for parents. The intent is to offer additional insight regarding different aspects of our programming. The articles are archived online and can be easily accessed. Here is an overview:
“Did You Know”, is a monthly e-publication to Summit families that covers various clinical philosophies, standards and practices concerning the treatment and well-being of all students. Summit’s therapeutic team attempt to individualize treatment for each student’s special needs while maintaining a school-wide standard that serves the good of the whole community. The entire clinical team meets weekly to discuss and collaborate the various issues of treatment that arise. These informational tidbits are an opportunity for parents to learn more about the Summit “process” and the recipe of clinical supports and interventions that lead to each student’s success.
Summit Preparatory School is an accredited private, non-profit, co-ed therapeutic boarding school located on 520 acres near Kalispell, MT. Summit integrates professional therapy and college prep academics within a nurturing and dynamic community that energizes and challenges adolescents to succeed and transform their lives. Grounded in the concepts of the Summit Model, the program focuses on promoting the development of healthy psychological and social skills. The campus is close to Glacier International Airport (FCA) and less that an hour from Glacier National Park.
Jump start your College Excel experience! Our End of Summer Leadership Course helps students reduce the anxiety associated with transitioning to a new setting. This course is led by a team of our top life and academic coaches. Students spend three adventure filled weeks exploring Oregon as they learn to construct a supportive peer community and practice self and group leadership skills.
The Leadership Course includes renting a house on the Oregon Coast, and participating in engaging activities such as surfing, horseback riding, exploring and an interactive tour of some of the top colleges in the Northwest. Another house is rented south of Bend as home base, while exploring different areas of Oregon and participate in volunteer projects that give back to the community.
The emphasis of this course is on interpersonal communication, problem solving, executive function skill building and emotional regulation techniques. Transitions can be difficult and this course is the perfect start to a successful College Excel experience.
College Excel is a residential college support program that works with young adults who have diverse learning needs and require extra support academically and personally in order to be successful in college. Students receive daily support from our team of specialists while they earn college credits at one of our local colleges. Located in beautiful Bend, Oregon, we provide students, ages 18-25, the opportunity to experience college in a supportive, structured and supervised setting. Participants must have graduated from high school or have a GED.
Phoenix Outdoor is hosting a retreat for clinical professionals seeking to relax, rejuvenate and learn about the ever-expanding options for young people in recovery. The conference runs August 17-19 and will be held at the Blue Ridge Assembly, located at 84 Blue Ridge Circle in Black Mountain, North Carolina. Registrants will participate in experiential activities focused on mindfulness and neuro-psychological education.
Additional opportunities for participants include:
- Hiking in the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains
- Yoga Sessions
- Guided Meditations
10.5 NBCC clock hours for continuing education will be provided.
The panel of speakers includes:
- Key Note Speaker Noah Levine, author of Refuge Recovery and founder of Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society
- Interventionist Heather Hayes Davidson, M.Ed., LPC, CIP (GA)
- "Brené Brown's The Daring Way", with Ana Moreno, MS, LMHC, CAP, CIP, ICADC, CDWF (FL)
- Anette Edens, Cornerstone Recovery (TX)
- Samantha Randall, University of Colorado (CO)
- Jackie S. Williams, Ed.D., BSN, Montford Hall (NC)
- Hannah Mariotti, Coach/Consultant at Beacon Coaching & Consulting (Boston, MA)
- Sarah Wagner, School Psychologist and Educational Consultant (Boston, MA)
Registration is currently open with options for commuters and participants seeking on-site accommodations, and meals are included. For more information, please email Deara Ball at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 828-808-4529
About SUWS of the Carolinas
At SUWS wilderness treatment program, students work through addiction, depression, developmental disorders, and behavioral issues with experienced staff members in a supportive outdoor environment free from the stresses and distractions of everyday life. SUWS of the Carolinas operates within the Pisgah Nation Forest under permits issued by the United States Forest Service (USDA), and is subject to the USDA Civil Rights Non Discrimination agreement (Form AD-475-C).
SUWS of the Carolinas is an NBCC-Approved Continuing Education Provider (ACEP) and may offer NBCC-approved clock hours for events that meet NBCC requirements. The ACEP solely is responsible for all apects of the program. ACE Provider #6617. For more information visit suwscarolinas.com
Brainspotting (BSP) has been receiving international acclaim over the past few years. At this year's conference in Washington DC, I had the chance to collaborate with both Dr. David Grand, Brainspotting’s developer, and renowned Neuroscientist Dr. Stephen Porges. Dr. Grand kicked off a Creativity Seminar filled with demonstrations of BSP work with actors, singers, and writers and followed with an intensive Brainspotting seminar that culminated in a Keynote presentation by Stephen Porges PHD.
Dr. Stephen W. Porges is a Professor of Psychiatry and Bio-Engineering and Director of the Brain-Body Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Porges is the originator of both the Poly-Vagal Theory and Social Engagement theories that are influencing psychotherapy practices across the globe. His work includes an in-depth examination of acute stress and social influences in regulating stress. The Clinical keynote he gave scientifically interpreted two previously recorded sessions: one utilizing Energy Therapy (EFT) and the second utilizing Brainspotting. He interpreted both of these cutting edge therapeutic techniques through the lens of both his Poly-Vagal and Social Engagement theories. Dr. Porges interpreted the various techniques, neurobiological influences, physiological reactions within the sessions and provided scientific observations. Through close examination of the Brainspotting demonstration, he noted various neurological feedback loops, vagal responses and applicability of Social Engagement Theory principles. The Brainspotting session that Dr. Porges dissected involved a client who suffered from an acute traumatic event. This client identified himself as a homosexual male and had experienced a violent physical attack by a group of anti-gay demonstrators. As a result of this attack, he experienced multiple traumatic symptoms that impeded his life. Symptoms included trouble sleeping, increasing relational struggles and various anxiety symptoms. This session demonstrated all relevant techniques of Brainspotting to determine relevant eye positions and access subcortical release in an effort to reconsolidate the traumatic energy and memory.
An Evening of Scientific Verification
Following the Clinical Keynote presentation, Dr. David Grand, Dr. Stephen Porges and myself met to review various neurological aspects of modern psychotherapy including Heart Rate Variation (HRV) and Brainspotting. In a more intimate setting, David and I were able to explore scientifically verifying questions with Dr. Porges and focus on the neurological details of various techniques within BSP.
Our time together culminated in a toast to Brainspotting. This toast had far more meaning beyond the action of any regular toast. This toast was a verification and authentication of Brainspotting at a scientific level, as validated by Dr. Stephen Porges, the father of Poly Vagal and Social Engagement Theories.
Humility and Agendas in Treatment Models
During our meeting together, we explored the differing motives held by developers of various therapeutic models. Our discussion centered on those developers who possessed agendas which are often tainted with selfish ambitions for success as opposed to those who develop to provide healing without expectation of return. We preliminarily discussed these issues due to Dr Porges previous experiences when scientifically interpreting other therapy models. We ensured Dr. Porges that the BSP community was fully ready to receive scientifically supported feedback even if the feedback required adjustments to the technique and model. We thoroughly discussed the evolution of models and the significant importance of the science backing them. Dr. Porges shared several stories of evolving therapeutic models which presented as rigid, inflexible, and static, unable to adjust to the scientific evidence.
Feedback Loops and Memory Re-consolidation
Throughout the evening Dr. Porges emphasized that in order to effectively re-consolidate painful memories, one must experience a stabilized autonomic nervous system. He explained that there are many forms of neurological feedback loops and that our five senses are significant influences in stabilizing the ANS. Initially, the feedback loop conversation focused on social interaction based
feedback loops. Our conversation took a turn when Dr. Porges found out that in Brainspotting, clinicians often sit for 15 to even 30 minutes at a time not saying anything, limiting verbal and social interaction, which in turn somewhat limits the social interaction feedback loop. Dr. Porges’s wheels turned quickly and he announced, “The pupils.” He quickly focused in on the essential and unique focused eye position that is utilized in Brainspotting, explaining that when the eyes are focused, steadily and unmoving, that the pupils of the eyes naturally start to pulsate. This pulse has been found to be directly correlated and even proven to establish autonomic nervous system (ANS) stability. Dr. Porges noted that this has additional correlations to stabilized Heart Rate Variation, or a state of
coherence. He additionally noted other stabilizing factors including respiration patterns.
We further explored various factors on how BSP strategically utilizes variations of methods while maintaining the stabilizing feedback loop of our sense of vision. Dr. Porges specifically noted that an unmoving and focused eye position, is a key scientifically significant stabilizing factor that keeps the brain regulated while processing implicit painful memory and reconsolidating it to explicit memory when performing Brainspotting.
More isn't always Better
Dr. Porges described that often in treatment modalities where stabilizing factors are identified, they are often over used. A “more is better” mentality does not align with the nervous system’s way of processing information. Eventually, too much feedback loop creates chatter, and chatter gets in the way of the reconsolidating process, potentially even blocking it. Dr Porges was supportive of BSP, because feedback loops from the ocular system with strong stabilization from the social engagement principles are how BSP
works. In this case, less is more.
Studies on the Journey of Implicit to Explicit Memory
While in the depths of our discussion, Dr. Porges spoke of early studies considering lateral eye movements and memory re-consolidation. He noted that we may find additional supportive answers regarding BSP in this early literature as some of these findings have highlighted discrepancies in the EMDR literature.
Eye movements do not support access to implicit information. It is proposed by Dr. Porges that BSP supports the accessing of implicit memory, and also the transition of implicit memory to explicit memory due to the steady and focused eye position, which stabilizes the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS).
One study quotes, “Eye movements had no effects on implicit memory. Eye movements were also associated with more conservative response biases relative to a no eye movement condition.” (Christman, Garvery, Propper, (2003).
by Steve Sawyer, Brainspotting International Trainer
New Vision Wilderness Clinical Director
Summit Achievement successfully uses statistical data to measure outcomes and has been selected by the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs as a Research Designated Program (RDP). The new RDP designation is bestowed upon NATSAP-member programs, such as Summit Achievement, that have demonstrated data-driven outcomes in working with young people with emotional or behavioral difficulties.
"Being one of the first programs in the country to achieve the RDP designation demonstrates our dedication to using data to measure our student outcomes," said Nichol Ernst, Executive and Clinical Director of Summit Achievement. "We're using data to communicate to parents, students and consumers the efficacy of our program which as a result has increased the understanding of our programs' impact on youth and their families."
"Programs that examine their work, and contribute to the scholarly, professional and practical understanding of the effects of our members' interventions, deserve the appropriate recognition," said Clifford Brownstein, Executive Director, NATSAP. "We strongly encourage all NATSAP member programs to begin a systematic examination of their work, and join those programs that are engaged in these efforts currently."
"Providing data that examines the impact and effectiveness of NATSAP member schools and programs is the responsibility of every residential treatment center, wilderness treatment program, therapeutic schools and those committed to helping adolescents and young adults with behavior challenges," said Michael Gass, Ph.D., LMFT, College of Health and Human Services, University of New Hampshire, who has spearheaded NATSAP's Outcomes Research Project for the past decade.
Summit Achievement is (and always has been) guided by positive reinforcement and the power of choice, our outcome-focused program employs effective therapeutic and educational principals. Through the process of engaging therapy, classroom academics and exciting wilderness expeditions, students experience the therapeutic benefit of outdoor adventure-based activities while learning to manage the demands of a more traditional environment. As an intentionally small, owner-operated program, we serve adolescent boys and girls, ages 13-20, from around the world.
For 8 years Alpine Academy has had the privilege of inviting alumni students and families for reconnecting. The theme this year was “It’s Your Turn to Change the World”. 46 alumni students came to the event, along with many of their parents. Along with the alumni students and families, many of our current students’ parents and other family members. There were 300 people attending the weekend.
In addition to the traditional workshop weekend events (like in-person family therapy, meetings with the after-care coordinator, etc) highlights of these weekends are the alumni student panel, the parent panel, and the Lila Award Gala. During the Alumni panel, our current and alumni parents are given the opportunity to talk with and ask questions of our alumni students. This year the alumni group ranged in graduation dates from 2006 to 2016. They were able to offer a powerful perspective on what works and what doesn’t in regard to working the program, successful transitions home and reintegration to “real-life.”
The parent panel is an opportunity for current and alumni parents to ask questions of each other and seek support, ideas and guidance. This is a great moment where the parents can learn from each other and get great ideas on how to not only make time spent at Alpine most effective, but also how to aid their daughters in the process of coming back home.
The capstone of the weekend is the Lila Award Gala. The Lila Award is an award that honors our founder, Lila Bjorklund. Lila dedicated more than 30 years of her life to helping children and adolescents, never accepting a dime for countless hours of work. Her dedication, compassion and love are at the center of our mission. Each year, one of our alumni students receives this award who has taken advantage of her opportunity to learn and grow and help others along the way. The recipient is selected by a vote of all of Alpine Academy’s staff members. In addition to the award ceremony, we had 3 of our alumni students speak about what they are doing to “change the world”. One has become a certified EMT, one has gotten back to nature and is in the process of becoming a field guide and hopes to become a wilderness therapist, and the recipient spoke about her part in a collaboration with Coca-Cola to start an anti-bullying initiative.
Alpine Academy is a licensed Residential Treatment Center for girls ages 12-18 who struggle with emotional disturbances that are severe enough to prevent them from going to school successfully. Alpine is a fully accredited school with dual-endorsed teachers at the front of every classroom. Year round school and an extended block schedule enable students to start catching up on missing credits as soon as they arrive. Therapy is built into the school day so students never miss class for therapy or vice versa. The therapists use a variety of modalities (DBT, CBT, Mindfulness, EMDR, Equine, etc) to find the best way to connect with and help the youth through individual, family, and group therapy. Students live in homes on our campus with a married couple trained and nationally certified in the Teaching Family Model; they are called Family Teachers. Their only job is to care for and teach social, academic, and independent living skills to the youth. This allows for ongoing, pro-social skill development that is more easily generalized back to the home and public school environment.
Elevations RTC is pleased to announce the appointment of Jordan Killpack, MA as Clinical Director. Killpack will work alongside Jennifer Wilde, LCSW, the Executive Clinical Director of Elevations RTC, to ensure the clinical programming at Elevations RTC is seamless and effective.
Killpack is passionate about helping young people work towards brighter, more successful futures. “We are so pleased to have Killpack come aboard our team,” says Jennifer Wilde, LCSW, Executive Clinical Director of Elevations RTC. “His experience and leadership abilities make him a valuable asset to Elevations.”
As Clinical Director, Killpack will be responsible for providing support and supervision for the clinical team, managing the clinical integrity of the program through balancing both individual needs and the overall program philosophy, running treatment team meetings, working with a small caseload of students;, collaborating with all other departments, carrying out clinical training, supporting line staff and developing and holding Parent Seminars.
Elevations RTC is a unique residential treatment center that works with both young men and women ages 13 - 18. Elevations offers guidance, support and relief to young men and women struggling with issues like trauma, depression, anxiety, mood disorders, behavioral problems and substance abuse. Elevations RTC is located in Utah and provides specialized, clinically intensive programs for troubled teens.
I was recently facilitating a family workshop, and a father turned to his daughter, and said in an exasperated tone, "why don't you just stop it?", referring to her self harm behaviors. Indirectly, he was highlighting the limitations of logic-based therapy; telling people what to do will rarely affect them at a deeper level.
At Greenbrier Academy, when we refer to a dialectic intervention, we are distinguishing that term from the well-known therapy dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). There are certainly many situations where DBT is an effective strategy to help people build coping skills, and we utilize that modality as an adjunct to the therapeutic process.
However, we are referring to the dialectic process where learning occurs through contrast and comparison. The father’s questioning his daughter’s struggles was not going to be resolved through any kind of logical thought process. To receive his answer, this dad had to become totally immersed in the process of a multi-family group. As he listened intently to the stories of the other girls and parents, old memories were triggered in him, related to his own struggles as an adolescent. He remembered constantly being told what to do, punished, verbally chastised etc. without any corresponding change in his behavior. The concept that was being discussed in the group setting was the formation of unconscious limiting belief systems, and he made the connection through listening to others, that he had developed early beliefs that he was not good enough, unintelligent, and unable to change. These limiting beliefs persisted into his adulthood, and he recognized that he has a history of never being able to complete projects. On the final day of the workshop, he came in and reported that he hadn't done his "homework", and that was the realization that helped him fully understand the concept of limiting belief systems. He instantaneously grasped that his lifelong pattern was connected to these faulty beliefs, and he continually sabotages himself in any situation that requires follow through. He tearfully told his life story to his daughter, who had never seen her father show emotion of a sensitive nature before. This was a dialectic experience for her, as she had always equated her father’s tendency to joke and minimize her issues, as evidence that he didn't really understand her and therefore didn't care about her.
These are the kinds of therapeutic moments that completely restructure the person’s paradigm regarding life. It sometimes seems that the field of psychology has conditioned us to believe that change is an arduous process, which may be almost perpetually on-going. What I've observed over the years is that the catalyst for change often occurs in a much more instantaneous fashion, and as a result of this powerful transformative moment they become motivated to learn the coping skills, strategies etc. that will help them concretize their new belief. Many of our students come from wilderness programs, which just by being placed in a completely new environment, creates all sorts of dialectic learnings. Students refer to learning about appreciation, gratitude and what's really important in life, by having everything taken away from them. Arriving at a relatively comfortable boarding school often helps them to begin to realize that while they created a great desire for change during their wilderness stay, the skills necessary to make it happen have not yet been fully inculcated. We create a number of different experiences to promote dialectic thinking in the girls.
We offer a service trip to Nicaragua that most students partake in. Invariably, our students, many who suffer from "affluenza", come back reporting that they learned at the deepest level the importance of support, family, and that the most important things in life aren't things. We create opportunities throughout their stay that challenge old beliefs on an unconscious level. Recently, we had one of our students do service work at an assisted living home. After going several times, she came into my office, and tearfully announced that she had discovered how much her parents loved her through her involvement at the assisted living home. She described watching a little old man come on an almost daily basis, and sit with his wife, holding her hand and bringing her flowers. His wife suffered from late stage dementia, and had no idea who it was talking to her. It hit this girl in a flash that she was treating her parents much like this unfortunate woman with dementia. She had been adopted, and had done many things to push her parents away, and had often used that hurtful line, "you're not my real parents". Just like the woman with Alzheimer’s, she didn't "recognize " her parents. This was such a dramatic realization that she had to do her parent call in that moment, and had a heartfelt discussion with her parents that they said had never occurred at any level in the past. Her relationships with her parents remain characterized by closeness, openhearted discussions, and appreciation from that day on.
Creating profound opportunities that cause young people to contrast their old hedonistic ways of seeing the world allows the therapeutic process to solidify at a much deeper level. Students regularly report that they have developed a consciousness, a sense of self and a mindfulness that creates an internalized barrier preventing them from falling back into old patterns.
Written by Mike Beswick, LICSW, BCD, Director of Family Programming at Greenbrier Academy for Girls. It is a private, college preparatory therapeutic boarding school for girls in grades 8-12 located in Pence Springs, WV. The psychological model that is used is Strong Relationality.
Pacific Quest is pleased to announce students now have the opportunity to complete seven academic courses for a total of four high school credits. The additional Psychology Course provides students with methods for understanding biopsychological, developmental, and cognitive functioning in humans, as well as individual and group variations in behavior. This course is aligned with Pacific Quest’s therapeutic curriculum, the Common Core Curriculum and the National Standards for high school psychology curricula.
Janna Pate, Pacific Quest’s Academic Coordinator, comments, “Pacific Quest is pleased to offer high school credits in the content area of psychology. Perhaps more than any other, this course reflects the knowledge our students come here seeking. Experiential learning takes place around the clock, and the content of our psychology course is at the heart of that work. Throughout the day, students have the opportunity to learn and demonstrate their understanding by participating in horticultural therapy activities, practicing healthy coping skills, trying out different mindfulness practices, practicing nonviolent communication and establishing and maintaining healthy relationships.”
All Pacific Quest academic coursework is accredited by AdvancEd and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement, allowing credits to transfer and students to grow their academic skills and knowledge while participating in integrative and daily therapeutic work.
Pacific Quest is an outdoor therapeutic program for struggling adolescents and young adults that offers a clinical, yet holistic, approach to treatment. Our neurodevelopmental approach, combined with horticultural therapy, integrates evidence-based therapeutic methods, whole-person wellness and organic gardening to sustain a healthy community and motivate change. www.pacificquest.org
Last week, Moonridge Academy set out to Moab, Utah for our annual Parent/Daughter 4-Day Whitewater Rafting Extravaganza on the Colorado River in gorgeous Canyonlands National Park. This is the true meaning of family intensive: working hard together in our rafts and kayaks, camping under the stars and building stronger connections with Mother Nature's help. Every year our parents report that this trip is one of the highlights of treatment, where girls and parents laughed until they cried, parents bonded together in support and family therapy conducted in life vests was unforgettable.
Moonridge Academy is a CERTS Program in beautiful Southern Utah with 16 beds, and is specifically designed for younger girls, ages 11-14. Younger girls need a younger environment, without the influence of older girls' more sophisticated or advanced issues. Moonridge takes a young approach to therapy and intervention, even our DBT program is taught and delivered at this specific age range level. Moonridge is intensive residential treatment for girls with issues of trauma, emotional regulation, depression, family conflict, and beginning stages of self-harm or substance experimentation. Traditional schooling is provided and Moonridge uses play and laughter to connect, a warm family environment to protect, and deep therapy to inspire and create change. Moonridge is located in scenic Southern Utah near Cedar City, UT.
Moonridge Academy is also one of the three CERTS RTC’s (along with Kolob Canyon and La Europa Academy), to be chosen as a National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP) Research Designated Program (RDP). To receive RDP designation, a program must collect 70% outcome research data from all admissions over a period of at least a minimum of 6 months.
CooperRiis Healing Community is pleased to announce that effective immediately, they have reduced entry rates for most intensive level of care at CooperRiis from $19,500 per month to $18,500. In addition, families can now access CooperRiis’ robust scholarship program one month earlier, making them eligible after two months of residency.
This change is happening because generous donors, mostly grateful families, helped us reach a record level of fundraising last year, topping $1 million for the first time. As a nonprofit, that money does not benefit shareholders. Instead, it is used to bolster our programming.
Just this year, Carl M. Anderson, PhD, world-class neuroscientist from Harvard, was hired as research director (read here). He spearheads leading edge studies to help people improve their brains and heal trauma. The effort will build on the Neuro-Enhancement Program, which has already generated results that have been presented at two national conferences.
One other development that will help families save money: CooperRiis now partners with SJ Health Insurance Advocates, an industry leader that works with insurance companies to help families receive their maximum health insurance benefits. This gives families more information about their insurance plans and how to obtain health insurance reimbursement for payments made to CooperRiis for its services.
CooperRiis offers an intensive array of clinicians, along with a higher level of staffing, allowing individualized care. CooperRiis is not just clinical, however, focusing on the healing community component, helping highly complex individuals by treating wellness, not illness.
The CooperRiis Healing Community is a residential mental health facility founded in 2003 by parents of a child who faced mental health issues. Its campuses in Mill Spring and Asheville, N.C. have a resident-to-staff ratio that’s better than 1:1. They treat wellness, not illness. CooperRiis residents experience a holistic approach that includes daily service work, peer interaction, diet, exercise, self-esteem and empowerment. Data and anecdotes from residents show that CooperRiis helps them and their families get beyond helplessness and blame to a positive place of hope, support and transformation. Approximately 80 percent of residents who complete the program reach the level of independence they desire and are successfully reintegrated into the community, an achievement that has earned CooperRiis national recognition.
Onward Transitions offers its members nutritional programs twice a month with Jenna Nagy. Jenna has her Master’s in Mental Health Counseling with a focus on Eating Disorders. In July, the members participated in a safe food preparation workshop where they learned about safe food storage, cross-contamination dangers and made their own bleach solutions to bring back to their own kitchens. Jenna comes to the Pine House location twice a month for group demonstrations and discussion, and individual nutrition coaching and meal planning.
Much like a Tupperware party of old, members left with a shopping bag full of essentials to stock their own kitchens for safe meal preparation. Jenna launched a new initiative August 1, with members that reinforce buying and preparing healthy meals in their own apartments. Members serve as a designated sous chef in the Pine House kitchen, under the guidance of a staff member. Then they are given cash to purchase the identified ingredients, save receipts, prepare the meal in their own kitchen, and take pictures and share with others. Members who return all receipts and share pictures to staff members are eligible for another sous chef/cash award experience.
Onward Transitions is a comprehensive, non-residential independent living service that supports young adults, ages 18-27 living independently in the neighborhood of their choice in Portland, Maine. Our members choose and live in their own apartment from day one. They do not ever live with us. Member challenges including anxiety, depression, executive functioning and meeting the requirements of launching towards independence.
For more information call or email Tracy Bailey at 207-712-1181 or email@example.com
As summer comes to an end and the school year approaches, Crossroads Adult Living is getting ready for college. The young men are excited and nervous as they anticipate the first day of class. More than half of the current Crossroads young men will be starting in the Fall semester at Weber State University. The therapists have been listening and watching closely to our clients’ psychological, behavioral, social and cognitive barriers to success. These quotes capture where the clients are and where they are going:
- “My brain is damaged by drugs.”
- “I fail everything so why try.”
- “As long as I never try, I cannot fail.”
- “I won’t fit in here.”
- “I’ll be the only sober student.”
- “I would rather choose video games over homework any day.”
- “I’ll embarrass myself or look stupid if I raise my hand in class.”
In the past few months, the Crossroads Adult Living team has been utilizing diverse approaches to build confidence and skills to mitigate these challenges. Here are the strengths of our program:
- Weber State University is five minutes away from the Adult Living campus and offers open enrollment in addition to accepting all applicants. This is crucial because the majority of our clients have struggled in high school and at previous colleges. We have seen success at this college lead participants to transfer to other colleges with more rigorous academic standards.
- Crossroads can offer a personalized academic success plan with options for a one-on-one tutor and group study “hangouts”.
- Therapists focus on cognitive restructuring of maladaptive beliefs, teach behavioral skills for anxiety exposure, and model executive functioning skills in both individual and group therapy.
- Weber State offers a comprehensive office of “Services for Students with Disabilities” (www.weber.edu/ssd) to help our participants receive appropriate accommodations for issues such as ADHD, learning and emotional disabilities. Therapists help process underlying stigma of these diagnoses and challenges to seeking help, which often causes conflict for traditionally masculine men.
Crossroads Adult Living is proud to cultivate an environment that supports academic growth in the context of substance use recovery. Many participants never considered college an option and we are excited to facilitate their dreams becoming a reality.
Crossroads Academy serves adolescent boys 14-18 years old in three residential homes in Ogden, UT. As primarily a substance use program Crossroads Academy emphasizes adventure living and "The Seven Challenges". Crossroads Young Adult Transition Program treats young adult men, ages 18-26, with diagnoses most commonly involving substance use.
EDGE Learning and Wellness Collegiate Community is excited to announce the addition of Brittany Williams to our staff team. Mrs. Williams joined the EDGE team in July as the program's first full-time Learning Coordinator.
Brittany has a diverse background in education and curriculum design, serving students at various ages and developmental levels. Through her teaching experiences in Secondary and Special Education, Brittany has developed a passion for individualizing instruction and recognizes the value in differentiating learning experiences in order for students to reach their academic and life goals. She is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University, with a B.S. in Special Education.
The decision to create the new position of Learning Coordinator represents additional emphasis on the academic goals of our students. EDGE continues to support students in realizing their dreams to succeed in college and beyond by helping them to develop the necessary life skills and learning abilities. With the addition of the Learning Coordinator position, EDGE is also able to further intensify the Therapeutic Life Coaching experience for our students. Our program provides an apprenticeship in living for students who have struggled to achieve college success and need a structured transition to adulthood.
EDGE Learning and Wellness Collegiate Community located in Chicago, IL offers a therapeutically supported living environment for post-treatment young adults striving to excel academically while creating a life of balance, joy, and wellness.
Living Well Transitions (LWT) is pleased to announce it is offering a summer return trip to Mission: Wolf and the Great Sand Dunes National Park. This is a service-based experiential learning trip offered to inspire and connect Living Well clients to volunteering opportunities and nature. It provides a LWT staffed and supported experiential, fun filled, community based opportunity to explore the splendor of the beautiful state of Colorado.
In the past, this trip has been very impactful and inspiring for LWT clients. It is offered between school sessions and outside of registration deadlines as a chance to create community and have a little fun before students enter busy school schedules. This 4 day, 3-night camping trip travels to South Central Colorado visiting the truly unique Wolf Sanctuary of Mission: Wolf and the one and only Great Sand Dunes National Park.
Living Well Transitions, in Boulder, CO, offers intensive therapy, groups and life skills counseling to young adults ages 18-32 in a real-world, independent living environment. Living Well helps clients struggle less by developing self-acceptance, values clarity and the courage to take action so they can lead purposeful lives in alignment with their core values.
- Masters-level clinical coaching staff who live on-site and go with you on your journey to greater independence and academic success, making EDGE the most clinically supportive young adult program.
- A metropolitan setting like no other young adult program, giving you the freedom and support to explore intellectual, social, service and recreational opportunities.
- A unique philosophy that provides a framework for highly individualized, responsive support in a warm, encouraging community environment.
- Access to more colleges and universities than any other young adult program, which allows you to choose the right school and academic plan among a diverse array of college options.
EDGE Learning and Wellness Collegiate Community located in Chicago, IL offers a therapeutically supported living environment for post-treatment young adults striving to excel academically while creating a life of balance, joy and wellness.
Staff and students had another successful annual trip to Glacier National Park. Each July, the entire campus spends a week at Glacier, partnering with the park service to complete trail work. Sprending several days hiking the beautiful Rocky Mountains, enjoying turquios glacial lakes and stunning mountain summits. Students shared that they were thankful for this opportunity, and that it was something they would have enjoyed even at home.
Chrysalis is intentionally located in northwest Montana so that our students can enjoy all four seasons outdoors, being physically active and mastering new skills. This to be crucial to identity development and taking healthy risks. This week we have a small group of students headed back to Glacier - this time biking over the mountains from campus!
Chrysalis School is an all girls therapeutic boarding school in northwest Montana for ages 13-18. Our mission is to provide the best quality therapeutic services, education and experiential opportunities to adolescents and their families in the context of a warm and nurturing residential boarding school environment while maintaining a commitment to integrity in all that we do.
Open Sky’s support of students and families extends beyond graduation. Alumni families at the 6 and 12 month anniversary of their child’s graduation are contacted. The purpose of this is twofold: to find out how parents and their child are doing, and to understand how Open Sky might better serve graduate families moving forward. From these calls, one thing is clear: alumni families are hungry to tap into the power and magic of the Open Sky experience after the program’s culmination. This fall, Open Sky will unveil wilderness therapy’s first traveling wellness retreat.
This Parent Wellness Retreat is intended to foster connections made at Open Sky, build on skills acquired in our program and provide learning opportunities for a lifetime of growth and success. It will encompass:
- A one or two-day retreat led by our Family Services staff
- Enriching topics to further personal and family development skills
- Guided meditation, gentle yoga, nature activities and wellness planning
- Opportunities to deepen connections and build community among Open Sky alumni
Taking place November 18 – 20th at the amazing EarthRise Retreat Center in Northern California, this retreat will offer all participants an opportunity to reflect on their own growth and personal development. There will be a combination of new information, activities and exercises as well as a review of foundational self-regulation and communication skills, all delivered with inspiring insights of Open Sky’s Norman Elizondo and Kendall Smith.
Future events will be offered outside of other major cities such as Denver, Chicago, New York, Boston, DC and other areas with a high concentration of alumni families. The retreats’ programming will also evolve to support the variety of needs and continual growth of alumni students and parents.
For more information about this November’s Wellness Retreat and future events, visit our website's blog, Parent Wellness Retreat.
Since 2006, Open Sky Wilderness Therapy has been providing the premier family-centered wilderness therapy experience through its programs in the mountains of Southwest Colorado and Canyonlands of Southeast Utah. The Open Sky approach transcends traditional wilderness therapy by emphasizing treatment for the whole family not just the adolescent or young adult, and the application of evidence-based clinical modalities with innovative, well-researched holistic healing practices such as yoga, meditation and mindfulness. When a family partners with Open Sky, they embark on a rewarding adventure of self-discovery, and learn a range of strategies that promote lasting success.