All Kinds of News for January 11, 2017
There are a number of different models and philosophies regarding the process for facilitating emotional growth and change. At Greenbrier Academy, we adhere to a model known as Relationality. This article will illuminate the features of a model that employs this approach, and will hopefully provoke discussion and thought as to how to create desire and facilitate change, particularly within the adolescent population. The distinguishing characteristics of a Relationally based program include:
- Emotional healing occurs in the context of relationships. We have found that many "problems" are formed when a girl develops a perceptual distortion regarding a significant relationship in her life. As an example, a girl may develop a belief that she is “not good enough", when as a small girl she overhears her parents complementing a sibling, and she interprets this in a way that causes her to believe that she will never be as successful as her brother and sister, and therefore begins living a life consistent with the belief of not being good enough.
- The primary cause of your daughter’s “symptoms" are her perceptions regarding relationships, past, present and future. Therefore, the focus of treatment is creating powerful, healing quality relationships to inculcate new positive beliefs.
- Therapeutic change is measured through identifying these old unconscious limiting belief systems, exploring, examining and reinterpreting the meanings attached to these experiences, and providing opportunities to begin exploring life through the perspective of a new belief, i.e., 'I am good enough'. We are able to 'check" our work through providing relational experiences with peers, family and staff to evaluate how effectively they are showing up in a healthier way.
- Our contention is that mental health is defined by the quality of our relationships, including our relationship with self, with friends, with family, with nature, and with our sense of purpose and/or higher power.
- We believe that literal learning has significant limitations. Many of your daughter's beliefs were formed illogically, and simply talking to her about them will not provide a deep level resolution. We provide a number of contrasting experiences that give her an opportunity to indirectly confront old belief systems, and as she has experiences that challenge her former limiting worldview, we find that she will begin to seek healthy relationships based on a realistic and positive sense of identity.
How it works
- Deep level therapeutic work is engaged around how their beliefs were formed. Methods utilized include specialized trauma work, psychodrama, neurolinguistic programming, DBT, CBT, family systems work and guided imagery. Through the insight that is gained, they are able to begin articulating to their family and other significant people in their life how they have viewed the world, and they become open to "new" realities as their perceptual views are brought into open discussion.
- Weekly family therapy provides an opportunity to discuss the issues that have arisen during individual therapy, and provides further awareness as to the healing that needs to occur within the entire family system.
- Intensive family workshops are held three times per year. Siblings are encouraged to attend and the focus is on illuminating and healing multi-generational family patterns.
- The quality of their relationships is greatly enhanced through Greenbrier's Aspirational System. Girls have the opportunity to create a foundation of values, morals and a sense of how to have healthy relationships through their work in the Aspirations. They move from a sense of self-centeredness to becoming much more acutely aware of how their behavior and actions affect those around them.
- The girls are exposed to a number of different contexts. These include the various animal programs, community drumming, participation in intramural sports, learning to live as a contributing member of a community, service projects and the opportunity to participate in overseas service trips and planned times at home to measure the degree to which they are changing on an identity level. We measure their progress through calibrating how consistent they are in all of these different contextual areas.
- The girls participate in four "Villages" during their time at Greenbrier. This unique dimension of our model provides opportunities for them to heal at a deeper emotional level through concretizing many of their past feelings and experiences. Most girls report this to be one of the most powerful aspects of Greenbrier.
- Group therapy occurs at least four days a week. Some groups are process oriented, meaning that issues that exist in the here and now are dealt with, while others have a theme focus, such as addictions codependency etc.
- Each girl is assigned an academic adviser and a residential staff member, who along with the girl’s therapist, work together as a team to continually access, monitor and challenge her throughout her time at Greenbrier.
- We are continuously evaluating the effectiveness of our model, and have had several research studies that confirm the girl’s perception of self, their value and "place" in the world, and their developing self respect, compassion, empathy and honor are significantly enhanced through their experience at Greenbrier. All of our graduates that have elected to pursue college have been accepted, and our alumni report that the virtues they acquired at Greenbrier actually develop further following their graduation.
Through this relational process that has been described, students are able to reframe the meaning they have attached to relational experiences, while simultaneously exploring the existential meaning of their life. Through this process, they become able to develop a much more solidified since of identity, which then enables them to pursue relationships that reflect their authentic self. We would identify that as a successful therapeutic outcome.
Mike Beswick, LICSW, BCD
Clinical Director, Family Programming
Greenbrier Academy for Girls
Our mission at Greenbrier Academy is to emotionally heal and educate students and families, helping them virtuously take care of each other and themselves.