All Kinds of News for October 10, 2018
Elevations RTC, a residential treatment center for adolescents ages 13-18, observes Suicide Awareness Month this September by providing insight into suicide prevention in teens.
A recent study found that 74% of teen deaths between the ages of 15-19 are caused by accident, homicide or suicide. In 2014, suicide was found to be the second leading cause of death among young people ages 13-19.
“The current research on suicide prevention among adolescents points to causes of suicidal distress including psychological, environmental and social factors,” comments Jordan Killpack, MA, NCC, CMHC. “Mental health is the leading risk factor for suicide including depression, substance use disorders, and other mental health disorders. More than 90% of those who die by suicide have one or more of these risk factors.”
According to Killpack, the first line of defense against suicidality is often family members or friends who are frequently the first to recognize the warning signs of suicide and can be the first step toward helping an at-risk individual find treatment with someone who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health concerns.
“For family members or friends who seek to help someone in emotional pain, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) suggests taking specific action steps,” comments Killpack. “These include: asking at-risk individuals about their suicidal thoughts, reducing a suicidal person’s access to highly lethal items or places, and saving the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in their phone.”
For more information about suicide prevention and awareness, please visit Jordan Killpack’s article on the subject.
About Elevations RTC
Elevations RTC is a unique co-ed residential treatment center that works with all students ages 13 - 18. Elevations offers guidance, support and relief to students struggling with issues like trauma, depression, anxiety, mood disorders, behavioral problems, and substance use. Elevations offers on campus fulltime psychiatric and nursing care. Elevations RTC is located in Utah and provides specialized, clinically intensive programs to struggling teens.For more information, please call 1-855-290-9681
John Dewey Academy is proud to release this inspiring new video (here) that captures the essence of the great work that we are doing in Great Barrington, MA. Take a quick moment and enjoy.
About John Dewey Academy
John Dewey Academy is a 30 bed, co-ed therapeutic boarding school located in the historic town of Great Barrington, MA. It has an unrivaled academic program with PhD level instruction, 100% college placement, and Masters level therapists. Length of stay is minimum of 15 month and college process and placement is the outcome goal for all students. Psychiatric support is available. Tours are offered weekly.
Summit Achievement is excited to announce that Caitlyn Cook, LCPC, ATR-BC will be stepping into the role of Clinical Director. Caitlyn is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and Board Certified Art Psychotherapist who earned her Bachelor in Communication Studies from the University of Rhode Island and her master's degree in Art Therapy and Creativity Development from Pratt Institute. Caitlyn's experience working with adolescents spans a variety of settings including outpatient, long-term residential, partial hospital, and formerly, as a guide at Summit Achievement. She has been a clinician at Summit Achievement for a number of years and will continue to take a caseload of clients.
Nichol Ernst, LCSW Executive Director and co-owner, who has been the Clinical Director for the last 8 years is handing off this position in order to have more time to work with individual clients. He will continue in his role as Executive Director and as a primary therapist.
Caitlyn will be the third Clinical Director in Summit's 22-year history, with the two former Clinical Directors, Dr. Will White and Nichol Ernst, on campus to support her transition.
About Summit Achievement
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 principles. Through the process of engaging therapy, classroom academics and exciting wilderness expeditions, students experience the therapeutic benefits of outdoor adventure-based activities while learning to manage the demands of a more traditional environment. As an intentionally small, owner-operated wilderness therapy program, we serve adolescent boys and girls, ages 13-20, from around the world.
Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness is proud and excited to announce that they are officially open to enroll young adult students, ages 18-30.
"Emerald Arrow: A Bold Path for Young Adults" will be led by Anne Wilzbacher, LPC, one of Blue Ridge’s experienced therapists, whose expertise in the clinical, wilderness, and self-growth arenas lends a unique perspective in creating a powerful foundation for supporting growth, health, resilience and empowerment within the young adult population.
The Emerald Arrow program strives to help individuals build a foundation for Sustainable Health, Vital Living and A Bold Path. Emerald Arrow at Blue Ridge will support emerging adults to thoughtfully and safely “root” into who they are and what they have to offer to themselves and others. The intention is for this unique age group to understand more clearly what they are capable of through the following program elements:
- Integrative and Enhanced Assessment
- Integrated and Individualized Clinical Work
- Family Systems Focus and Support
- Core Wilderness Work and Primitive Skills
- Intensive Group Psychotherapy
- Creative Exposure/Expression and Skill Building through Weekly Intensives
- Thoughtful Transition Preparation
These program elements are set up to bring about more authentic connections, deeper consciousness, stronger responsibility and devoted gratitude. The combination of these pieces will fuel empowerment for young adults, which sets the foundation for sustainable health, vital living, and walking a bold path. Emerald Arrow utilizes the lens of whole family systems work and supports emerging adults to focus on understanding and realigning with self through awareness and connection to body, speech, mind, and purpose.
The goal is for emerging adults and their families to get in touch with their own inherent health and to create resilience, strength, belonging, and to feel interested in their purpose. Anne shares, “I want families moving forward with a foundation of greater health, vitality, and vision of their path – feel what it is to know their own deep rooted belonging.”
Why Emerald Arrow? The Emerald is the “stone of the heart.” It is about growth, transformation, and revealing and it’s about a renewed commitment to purpose. “All the green of nature is concentrated in an emerald” (Hildegaard). Emerald Arrow’s wilderness area, located in the Nantahala National Forest in Western North Carolina, is rich and dense in nature. The essence of Emerald Arrow represents pulling back into oneself, the family system, generational patterns, looking at those things participants have not wanted to look at and being willing to be challenged and uncomfortable, to then move swiftly forward on their beautiful and bold path that is this life. Walking ‘A Bold Path’ asks participants to pull back and look at their roots, build awareness of self and do their own individual work and their work with their family. This takes courage and vulnerability. The program strives for young adults to reach toward this essential part of themselves in order to know, understand and have more inspired clarity on what they want in life and what they are capable of, so that they can move forward on a thoughtful, inspired, resilient, empowering, sustainable path.
Blue Ridge’s young adult wilderness therapy program "Emerald Arrow: A Bold Path" will start with a mixed gender group serving 18-30 year olds struggling with trauma, depression, anxiety, family system issues, identity, avoidance, disordered eating, personality disorders/traits, substance abuse, and addictive behaviors.
Please contact Blue Ridge with questions or curiosity. Anne Wilzbacher can be reached at AnneW@blueridgewilderness.com or you can contact Danielle Hava (danielleH@blueridgewilderness.com) with questions related to referrals.
About Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness
Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness offers clinically driven programs encompassing advanced therapeutic skill, a highly flexible nomadic wilderness therapy model, licensed wilderness therapy assessment and multiple treatment options for troubled teens ages 13-18 years old. Our individualized approach, family support and commitment to service translate to an unparalleled experience and better outcomes for adolescents and families.
Graduation ceremonies are special experiences at Moonridge Academy. During the ceremony a student’s journey is shared and applauded. Talks highlighting the graduating student are given by the student’s therapist, youth coach, special friend/peer and family members. The student also shares her experiences and the lessons she has learned. The ceremony culminates in a video filled with pictures from the student’s time at Moonridge.
During a recent graduation, a student and her family shared the symbolism of the willow tree, comparing it to a student’s journey at Moonridge Academy. The willow tree is one of the few trees that is capable of bending in outrageous poses without snapping. This can be a powerful metaphor for those seeking recovery. The message of the willow tree is to adjust with life, rather than fighting it, surrendering to the process. The image of the willow tree represents the strength, stability and structure of the trunk, standing firm and withstanding the greatest of challenges. The branches are flexible and strong, bending without breaking. The leaves represent the balance, harmony and growth one experiences through life challenges. The willow tree gives hope, a sense of belonging, safety and the stability to let go of the pain and suffering experienced and grow new, strong and bold.
To complete this insightful analogy, the graduating student’s family donated a willow tree to Moonridge Academy to be planted close to the porch where it can be easily seen. A plaque explaining the symbolism of the willow tree was also donated. The plaque is placed at the base of the trunk so the lesson of the willow can be shared again and again with other students who are on the same journey of healing. Current and future students will be able to water the tree and help it grow, as they themselves are learning and growing.
Moonridge Academy is grateful for thoughtful and caring parents who respect the process that takes place every day during treatment.
About Moonridge Academy
Moonridge Academy is a premier residential treatment center for younger girl ages 11-15 years located in Cedar City, UT. Moonridge Academy specializes in healing trauma and addressing mental and emotional challenges using different therapeutic modalities including EMDR, CBT, DBT, Play Therapy, Equine Therapy and Adventure Therapy. As a small program of only 16 students, Moonridge Academy allows for a high degree of individualization in both clinical and academic services. By combining a nurturing home-like environment with a sophisticated clinical approach, Moonridge Academy is tailored to meet specific needs and to assist students in developing coping skills and identity.
This summer has been an exceptionally bad wildfire season in Utah. Several thousand residents of southern Utah County were evacuated for weeks following the fires in Spanish Fork Canyon that destroyed tens of thousands of acres. With the fires nearly 100% contained, a new threat is facing the communities at the base of the Wasatch mountains.
Wildfires have destroyed the trees, shrubs, and other vegetation that play a, natural, important role in maintaining the structural integrity of the foothills above the communities of Elk Mountain, Springville and Payson. With the onset of Fall weather, forecasted rain threatens to trigger devastating mudslides as hills and mountains stripped of their root structures are saturated.
Last night the students at Telos responded to the call for help by meeting at the Hillman baseball fields in Payson to spend the night filling and placing sandbags used to stop mud and flooding from destroying lives and property. The Telos students worked throughout the night fighting for their neighbors. One citizen stated, “It’s an amazing thing to see so many young people working so hard to protect complete strangers.”
About Telos U and Telos RTC
Telos U and Telos RTC, located in Orem, UT, specialize in small class size and low pressure education systems support. Telos provides a therapeutic boarding school environment for adolescent boys who need help with Processing of Information Disorders, ADD/ADHD, ASD and emotional disorders that prevent them from thriving in a typical high school environment. Telos offers a family systems approach to therapy, working with parents and siblings alongside Telos' students, and structuring a therapeutic mileu around triathlon training programs and other engaging activities outside of school class time.
Elevations RTC, a residential treatment center for teens ages 13-18, is excited to highlight the work of Trish Brimhall, RDN, CD, CLE, their on-staff Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.
As Elevations RTC’s Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Brimhall educates and responds to students’ nutrition-related concerns throughout their time at the program. She teaches a Health and Wellness class to every student admitted to Elevations. In this class, she covers basic health and nutrition. Additionally, she creates a discussion around students’ relationships with food, their body image, fad diets, orthorexia, and what being healthy looks like.
If students need additional support from Brimhall because of issues such as a history of disordered eating behaviors, allergies, or high/low BMI, she will meet with them on an individual basis depending on their need.
“My goal as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist is to help students meet their personal health goals through sustainable, safe and balanced nutrition while healing their relationships with food and eating,” comments Brimhall. “Gentle, achievable changes in eating behaviors and thought patterns related to food, eating and body image are key when it comes to happy health. Ideal eating patterns should make us feel strong and energized while also meeting the mental, emotional, social and cultural needs that food provides. There is no true health without happiness and that is especially true when it comes to the individual field of nutrition.”
In addition to meeting with students individually and within groups, Brimhall works with the kitchen staff in reviewing menus, recommending and approving special diets, and providing varied, nourishing meals to students. She has also met with each team and participates in a group that discusses body image, health and relationships with food alongside the clinical team.
“I believe that everything relates back to nutrition. Everything from body image to self-esteem to our culture,” says Brimhall. “Everyone, no matter who you are has a relationship with food. It is the most ignored relationship in our lives. As a dietitian, I value the opportunity to meet with individuals to help them feel confident, healthy and equipped to make healthful, life-long nutrition decisions.”
About Elevations RTC
Elevations RTC is a unique co-ed residential treatment center that works with all students ages 13 - 18. Elevations offers guidance, support and relief to students struggling with issues like trauma, depression, anxiety, mood disorders, behavioral problems, and substance use. Elevations offers on campus fulltime psychiatric and nursing care. Elevations RTC is located in Utah and provides specialized, clinically intensive programs to struggling teens. For more information, please call 1-855-290-9681
Seven Stars, a residential treatment center and assessment program for teens with neurodevelopmental issues, is excited to welcome Shawnery Mathis LMFT to their clinical team as a Primary Therapist.
“Shawnery has spent nearly two decades working closely with teens and families in a variety of therapeutic settings,” comments Dr. Gordon Day, Executive Clinical Director and Founder of Seven Stars. “We are thrilled to have her on our team. In the past, she has worked with young people on the autism spectrum and with developmental delays. Her experience, coupled with her passion for helping young people build confidence in themselves and their ability to succeed, makes her a wonderful addition to Seven Stars.”
Since 2002, Shawnery has been helping teens normalize struggles and recognize strengths that can aid in times of difficulty. “I believe that assisting teens and their parents with self-confidence through achievement is an integral part of treatment,” says Shawnery Mathis, LMFT. “Throughout my work, I take a cognitive behavioral approach. This approach produces effective changes in the families I have worked with.”
Shawnery has been trained in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), Motivational Interviewing, Adolescent Community Reinforcement Approach (ACRA), Aggression Replacement Therapy (ART) and Behavior Analysis.
For more information about Shawnery and other members of the treatment team at Seven Stars, please visit https://discoversevenstars.com.
About Seven Stars
Seven Stars is a leading assessment program and residential treatment center for teens ages 13-17 who struggle with neurodevelopmental disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorder and ADHD. For more information about programming at Seven Stars, please visit http://www.discoversevenstars.com/or call 844-601-1167.
Mastery is one path to both competency and maturity for adolescents. When an adolescent begins to demonstrate knowledge over a skill, they begin to internalize, process and develop a sense of competence. This is known as mastery.
One path to growth and development at RedCliff Ascent is mastering both life and experiential skills. Each adolescent who completes the program has demonstrated a significant level of knowledge over the skills required to be successful at RedCliff.
Twice per year, RedCliff students and alumni gather in the field to participate in events and activities that are core skills of the program, including bow-drill fires, crafting and poetry. It is a day to enjoy each other's company and to have fun. This gathering is called Shindig.
There is also a deeper meaning and purpose to Shindig. When groups gather, they are sharing their competencies. At its core, it is a time for students to be validated in their mastery, to find a sense of confidence from healthy competition, to feel supported, challenged, and cheered, all of which help move them forward on their developmental journey.
For a video of a recent Shindig, visit https://youtu.be/4qZVZPm86JQ.
About RedCliff Ascent and RedCliff Recovery
RedCliff Ascent is a therapeutic wilderness program, nestled between two mountain ranges in the high desert of Enterprise, UT. They focus on adolescents ages 13-17 who are struggling with various challenges from anxiety and depression, to school abandonment and the need to reconnect with their family. With over 25 years of experience, RedCliff uses a relational model and narrative therapy to drive an outcome and an evidence-based approach. RedCliff Recovery is a women's specific, 12-step adventure based wilderness program. Designed by women, specifically for women.
During the summer of 1999, Echo Springs students and staff set off on their first excursion to the Last Frontier. 20 years later and the brave Echo Springs students are accepting the invitation to journey through an exploration of self, nature and power. The rugged and beautiful terrain provides not only a metaphor of life within the geography itself but an excellent reacquaintance with the empowerment of connecting with the wild that so many students have previously experienced through wilderness therapy, family vacations, Scouts or even summer camps. For a few, this is their first time experience of being, breathing and sleeping where the wild things are.
During the trips, students incorporate their teachings from Echo into the new and often times intimidating environment of Alaska. On this last trip, students took initiative to organize AA meetings, yoga circles, meditation and conflict resolution. It has been even more rewarding to see the boom upon return. The experience is applied back into the daily life at Echo as students take on new challenges with additional confidence and courage. If one can sleep in tents amongst the grizzlies and wolves, one can survive taking a class or two at Northern Idaho College while managing all the other components of progressively increasing responsibilities.
Students were able to flex muscles in resiliency and managing anxiety and self-doubt, as well as exercising their actual arm muscles paddling 60 miles over 9 days. As a group, they practiced teamwork by setting goals, supporting one another, asking staff for assistance, and provided thoughtful feedback to each other throughout the experience.
“We became connected on a level we never had before. Cooking, sleeping, singing, kayaking and exploring together was an experience I’ll never forget.” - Danielle G. 22
Echo Springs wishes to thank Breakwater Expeditions for partnering with Echo Springs over the last 7 years and guiding students safe and soundly alongside icebergs, seals, and sea otters with the creaks and thunderings of the calving glaciers. This special partnership between Breakwater Expeditions and Echo Springs is what ultimately led to Doug Kim-Brown to pass the Echo Springs' baton to John Winton 5 years ago, to carry on Echo Springs' young adult support services and carry on the legacy of empowering lives into prosperous futures.
Echo Springs values the opportunity to inspire students through explorations outside of comfort zones with the purpose of promoting catalysts for outward and inward discoveries. Just in 2018 alone, different sets of Echo Springs' students have surfed on Costa Rican shores, bicycled through the medieval walled cities of Italy, boated along the coastline of Croatia, and sea kayaked through the icy waters of Alaska.
Travel is beautiful and a fortunate opportunity to experience life in 3 dimensions, inspiring cerebral wonder and awe with all the physical senses maxed to the fullest. The journeys shift perspectives and create impact and imprint lifelong memories.
"The experience in Alaska gave me an opportunity to connect with not only my community but with myself. Being out in the wilderness away from all the distractions of day to day life was a way to see myself and what I am truly capable of which is much more than I had ever imagined.” Scout Christensen, age 19.
About Echo Springs
Echo Springs Transition Study Center empowers young adults to live effective, productive, and joyous lives. Students identify interests, assess strengths and weaknesses, and learn to manage challenges. Echo facilitates the opportunity to re-envision dreams. Students learn they can accomplish realistic goals. Echo Springs supports students in the transition from passive onlooker to active participants in their own lives and futures.
Visit Echo Springs’ gallery to see photos from these adventures.
Sunrise Residential Treatment Center has always been proud of the amazing work they do with the families they serve. As a Relational Dialectical Behavior Therapy program (DBT) they recognize that the skills their girls learn don't just benefit them but the entire family system. Sunrise has worked hard to help families shift their roles, rules, and relationships in order to find healing and lasting change. Coupling Family Systems Theory and Relational DBT allows their families to build their "life worth living".
This year, more so than ever, Sunrise has not only been able to continue their work with families in the greater United States, but they have had the opportunity to help families from countries outside the U.S. including Canada, Brazil, Mexico, and Isreal. "It has been such a cool experience to work with families from all around the world and help them find hope for healing for their daughter when they may not have the resources available to them in their country," said Amy Bowler, Sunrise Admissions Counselor. "We have really enjoyed creating opportunities to help them hold onto their culture, while helping them adjust to ours. One of the ways we do this is by doing a 'Culture Night' where one of the girls helps prepare her favorite dinner from her country for her house." A student from Israel, spoke of what the transition was like for her, "The cultures are very different which was hard to adjust to and being here in a secure environment helped me a lot. I like how the staff do their best to understand my culture and try to find ways for me to live it while at Sunrise."
Sunrise is grateful to be able to help these girls and their families find healing. They look forward to the families they will help in the future and will continue to make strides to be the positive resource their families all across the globe need.
About Sunrise RTC
Sunrise is a residential treatment center for adolescent girls ages 13-17 aimed at uncovering the academic, social and emotional potential of girls who have been held back by emotional or behavioral struggles. Sunrise combines the warmth of a home, the safety and clinical expertise of a residential treatment program and the community access of a transition program.
Greenbrier Academy for Girls, an all girls therapeutic boarding school in Pence Springs, WV, is proud to announce their status as a Research Designated Program. The National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs has established RDP status to create higher standards in evaluating the effectiveness of member programs.
While GBA has undergone independent research studies related to their therapeutic model of Strong Relationality, becoming an RDP with NATSAP is an achievement that reflects a commitment to systematically examine their work within a highly recognized organization. Whether serving families as a therapeutic boarding school for depression, a boarding school for anxiety, or other non-acute conditions that may be future threatening, Greenbrier Academy is thankful to have achieved these standards through dedicated coordination and teamwork.
By participating in the Outcomes Research Project, Greenbrier has collected, and will continue to submit data that includes demographic information upon admission; the Youth Outcome Questionnaire (YOQ), Parent Outcome Questionnaire (OQ), at enrollment, discharge, and one-year post discharge. In order to maintain these standards, Greenbrier will continue to submit an annual report to the research Committee verifying ongoing collection of their enrollment data, and of their discharge data.
Greenbrier is proud to be part of NATSAP's efforts in raising professional standards, while also investing in an increased understanding of their impact on students and their families.
About Greenbrier Academy
Greenbrier Academy (GBA) is an all-girls' therapeutic boarding school. The mission at Greenbrier Academy is to mentor and empower adolescent girls and their families to create quality, healing intrapersonal and interpersonal relationships through inspired critical thinking, advanced therapeutics, college prep academics and stimulating adventures.
HopeWay is pleased to announce that it is now a provider in CIGNA Behavioral Health's network.
HopeWay is thrilled to become in-network with another major insurance carrier, as it allows HopeWay to continue improving access to premier mental health care for adults across the nation. Coverage includes HopeWay's Residential, Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) and Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) services.
For referrals, please call 1-844-HOPEWAY or email email@example.com.
HopeWay is an accredited non-profit residential mental health facility for adults, 18 years and older. Located in Charlotte, NC, HopeWay is a physician-led treatment center with The Joint Commission's Gold Seal of Approval for Behavioral Health Care Accreditation and certification as a Behavioral Health Home. The center offers a continuum of care that includes residential and day treatment programs within a holistic model of medical, psychological and emotional wellness and education. Each client receives an individualized treatment plan with a clinically structured schedule based on specific therapeutic goals.
Dragonfly Transitions, a co-ed Young Adult transitional program located in Southern Oregon, places a high value on adventure and student leadership. These aspects have helped shape the program and are defining features of the Dragonfly model.
In a research study completed with alumni of Dragonfly Transitions, the adventure and experiential component at Dragonfly was routinely highlighted by the graduates. One alumni shared that "one of my happiest memories was going on a rafting trip with Dragonfly. It was absolutely amazing. It really helped me with my team building skills and character building and being able to work with other people. Before it was all about me, I was very selfish. I didn’t want to work with people. I didn’t work in teams. I was lazy and never put the work in. It really helped me to be a team player and being able to implement those skills into real life, such as employment, playing on sports teams and friendships."
Dragonfly trips continue to this day and combine adventure, exploration, community service and relaxation. These trips bring the community closer together and provide students an opportunity to build confidence, resiliency and the impetus to step outside their comfort zone.
Each summer, Dragonfly students embark on a 10-day adventure before the start of the fall academic term. Each of the respective treatment teams (comprised of the therapist, mentors, and students) go on separate trips to different locations. This year, three groups traveled to Olympic, Yosemite & Yellowstone National Parks.
Therapist staffed trips are a great opportunity for the therapist to see young adult students in action with their peers. It provides valuable information to the therapist and real-world examples of the struggles and strengths of each student.
Dragonfly Primary Therapist Casey Sims traveled to Mammoth Lakes, California with 14 students as well as two mentors and fellow therapist Chelsea Kibbe. Casey commented "Students had the opportunity to hike in Yosemite, kayak at Mono Lake and camp under the stars. It’s amazing to see the formation of new friendships, and by the end a desire for the trip to last longer! The team was grateful for the patience, engagement, and flexibility that every student and staff brought on the trip to make it smooth, successful, and memorable."
About Dragonfly Transitions
Dragonfly Transitions serves young adults 18 - 30 in three locations in Southern Oregon. The variety of locations allows for a continuum of care. The campus a student first enrolls in is based on the level of support desired and personal goals and interests. Students pursue educational, vocational, therapeutic, social and recreational life goals. Dragonfly offers opportunities for hands on experience in a supportive environment where students can flourish.
TechieForLife (TFL), a program designed to help young adults with learning differences like Autism, has been working to bring awareness of the issues faced after school and services end for adults with Autism after high school. It is estimated that 85% of adults on the autism spectrum are unemployed or underemployed. TFL Executive Director Jason Grygla attended two recent events to address the needs of an estimated 500,000 teens (50,000 of which graduate each year) that will be entering adulthood and aging out of school based services over the next decade.
Affecting all ethnic and socioeconomic groups, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. Jason Grygla was honored to present at the Arizona Autism Coalition Annual Conference 2018 on “Autism Career and Self-reliance After Age 21.” In his presentation, he discussed how to understand, prepare and approach effective transition into adulthood through research and anecdotal experiences. Some of the topics he covered included barriers to employment, maximizing ability, minimizing weakness, planning, education, finances, mentoring, and trends for "adulting autists."
Jason Grygla and TFL Career Coach Jeremy Creager also attended the ”2nd Annual Autism After 21 Breakfast” for business leaders and supporters of adults with autism sponsored by the Madison House Foundation, in Salt Lake City, Utah. According to Madison House, “When the abilities of adults on the spectrum are recognized, our workplaces benefit and our society benefits.” Their goal is to help these individuals gain the self-esteem and value that results from being employed.
According to the Center For Disease Control (CDC), 3.5 million Americans live with an Autism Spectrum Disorder with a rate that has dramatically increased over the last decade to become the fastest growing developmental disability, yet most underfunded, with 1 out of 42 boys and 1 out of 189 girls diagnosed with ASD. More than half the young adults with ASD remain unemployed and unenrolled in higher education in the two years following high school. This is a lower rate than that of other young adults with disability categories like learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities or speech-language impairment despite that almost half (44%) of children with ASD have average to above average intellectual ability. There are many other neurodiverse students not on the spectrum who also need extra supports and services into adulthood not included in these statistics, resulting in large social and financial issues facing societies across the globe.
TechieForLife (TFL) is a co-ed, young adult, residential and licensed vocational school located in St. George, Utah. Dubbed "Silicon Slopes South," beautiful Southern Utah is home to one of the fastest growing tech sectors in the U.S. Neurodiverse students who need a safe social and emotional environment gain important life skills, mentoring and a college track or marketable technology training, leading to internship/job placement through TFL's close private sector partnerships. TechieForLife gives students a place to belong and the supports to succeed.
Can you solve the puzzle? Colin Walsh, support specialist for Approach and Season programs, likes to share this 'stick' initiative with students, parents, and visitors. As they strain to change 5 squares into 4 by only moving two sticks, they may become frustrated, energized, or avoidant. After a while he asks participants, "When does this little problem become a BIG PROBLEM?" Maybe when someone gets mad? Or decides to quit? Or when someone can't stop looking at the puzzle even when they've been asked to shift their attention? Colin uses this exercise to help people look at their responses to a challenge - how a little problem or challenge can become a big problem when feelings turn to frustration, anger, resentment, etc. He continues the lesson explaining how we may not be able to choose our feelings, but we can choose how we feel about our feelings. If we invite a sense of curiosity and befriend our feelings, then challenges become a chance for us to learn, grow, and succeed. Having someone solve all of the puzzles and give us all the answers can steal those opportunities for growth. Consider that the next time you catch yourself reacting to a problem. Are you looking for an easy way out? Are you boiling over? Are you stuck and obsessing? Whatever it is, try offering an accepting "hello" to those feelings. You just might find yourself better suited to face the problem.
And if you need the answer to the puzzle, talk to Colin. You can find him most days hiking out to visit a group with his therapy dog, Scout. Or he might be 30 feet in the air leading a group through the high ropes course. He loves to use his extensive repertoire of interventions to bring down students’ walls, get them curious about their feelings, and support their amazing insights. And once in a while, he’s able to check his email so send him a shout out at firstname.lastname@example.org
About SUWS of the Carolinas
SUWS of the Carolinas is a licensed, CARF International-accredited mental health facility, committed to helping families rediscover their strengths and fostering growth for young people. Operating in the Pisgah National Forest under permit from the National Forest Service, SUWS delivers wilderness based therapeutic interventions for 10-17 year old boys and girls with compassion and excellence.
This month Pure Life hosted JOVA, Pure Life's local outreach program, in the first intercultural surf day with Pure Life students. JOVA is a group of Costa Rican young adults who work with Pure Life staff. Pure Life staff provide life skills classes, mentoring and adventure activities.
"While many local Costa Ricans may live close to a beach, they don't have the resources to be able to get their hands on a surf board and take advantage of one of the greatest aspects of living in this beautiful country", said Andrew. Pure Life brought 16 young men from a town about 45 minutes inland to the beach where Pure Life students had been practicing surfing for 3 days. The Pure Life students shared their boards and Pure Life clients got in the water to teach these local Costa Ricans the basics of standing up on a surf board. "It was a magical day for our program, it brings me a lot of joy to get to share this amazing adventure therapy experience some of our locals here in Costa Rica."
After a long surf session, the two groups sat down on the beach for group therapy sessions, translated by Pure Life Field Guides. It was inspiring to see that even though the differences amongst the groups were obvious in the beginning, after a long discussion on the beach about everyone's unique challenges both the students and the locals realized they had much more in common than they realized.
One Pure Life student commented, "it was the the highlight of my experience at Pure Life. We have so much to learn from each other...." The local JOVA members are working hard and preparing for a week long backpacking, rafting adventure at the end of the year. Pure Life donates a part of its earning to fund the JOVA program. We are grateful for those who continue to support the Pure Life program and we are trying to pay it forward into local Costa Rican communities.
About Pure Life Adventure
Pure Life Adventure is located in the Central Pacific region of beautiful Costa Rica. Relying on decades of experience in the Costa Rican outdoor industry, the bicultural team provides a therapeutically sophisticated and holistic approach to helping young adults with depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, lack of motivation, executive function deficits, trauma and substance abuse. The students are individuals with very real challenges looking for lasting change. Pure Life utilizes traditional individual and group therapy in combination with outdoor experiential learning and adventure. The Pure Life integrated and dynamic approach includes an emphasis on fitness, mindfulness, life skills and cultural immersion.
ViewPoint Center treatment and assessment teams includes two amazing full time, board-certified psychiatric nurse practitioners Jennifer Young PMHNP-BC and Chris Paegle PMHCNS-BC and psychiatrist Dr. Michael Connolly, MD. Both the psychiatrist and psychiatric nurse practitioners work closely with patients, families, and educational consultants to assess, diagnose, and shape an individualized treatment plan for patients. So what’s the difference between what Jennifer and Chris do versus what Dr. Connolly does? Here’s a bit of an explanation:
Similarities and differences
Functionally, psychiatric nurse practitioners and psychiatrists do very similar things for patients. Both:
- Work closely with patients and their families to determine a diagnosis
- Prescribe and manage a patient’s medication.
Some differences between our psychiatrist and psychiatric nurse practitioners include:
- Type of Training: Jen and Chris began their training in nursing and went on to attend Master’s programs and doctorate level training, whereas Dr. Connolly attended medical school, completed his residency, and took part in a two year fellowship focusing on child and adolescent psychiatry.
- Amount of time spent with patients and families: Jen and Chris spend each and every day working with patients and work closely with families to find answers and solutions to the challenges patients face. Dr. Connolly spends less time in family therapy. Jen and Chris consult with Dr. Connolly when needed, however, they spend more time with patients to provide a comprehensive assessment and treatment plan.
ViewPoint Center considers itself so lucky to have such passionate, caring members of our team who spend every day helping patients gain a better understanding of the challenges they face and mapping out a plan for future treatment.
About The ViewPoint Center
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 6-8 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.
The day had finally arrived to celebrate the new Arts Studio. It was a beautiful fall day in Northwest Montana, the sun was shining and the temperature was perfect for an outdoors event! Prior to the formal ribbon cutting, the students have the opportunity to design a personal ceramic tile for the art wall, create their own tie dye shirt, and listen to some great music by local musician Luke Fowler and a group of SPS students.
The arts program at Summit Prep has always been exceptional and this addition is so appreciated. This building is such a great addition to our campus. This facility will be used by so many of the students for fine arts practical arts classes.
A BIG THANK YOU goes out to the friends and families that provided donations.
To commemorate the ribbon cutting and Summit Prep’s 15 year anniversary, The Flathead Beacon, an area newspaper, ran an article, read it here.
About Summit Preparatory School
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 is less than an hour from Glacier National Park.
Staff members at Onward Transitions (OT) have been helping emerging adult members prepare for election season by providing information on voter registration and exposure to the democratic process. Though staff members do not share their political views with members, OT’s milieu is a safe place for emerging adults to engage in kind and tolerant discussions with each other about their beliefs.
In preparation for November, members are choosing different routes to cast their ballots:
Some experienced voters have chosen to cast absentee ballots in their home states. Some who call New England home have chosen to plan to take the day off and drive back and vote in their home state.
Some will vote in Portland as first time Mainers; because they have their own apartments they can submit a utility bill in their names to register. Alternately they can produce a bank statement or pay stub as proof of residence. One current member is a first time voter and is going through the initial process with staff assistance.
Members participate in a democratic process each month called community meeting. Each member has a voting right and states their position on the monthly topics they had previously put on the agenda. The recommendations that come from this legislative body (which follows Robert’s Rules of Order) are then passed along to the executive branch (the planning team which serves as the Executive Director’s cabinet) and then is decided on. Previous decisions made through this process have included use of recreation funds, location for trips, timing of meals and the naming of the newest program vehicle.
About Onward Transitions
Onward Transitions (OT) in Portland, ME is a small, independent, owner-operated program for bright, motivated, emerging adults in the final stages of learning to live on their own. OT supports actual sustainable independent living and autonomy from two city locations. Participants (members) ages 18-29 never live with us; they live in their own apartments, scattered throughout the city. Members' challenges include anxiety, depression and executive functioning.
Regression is a common problem after graduation from a residential therapeutic program. Montana Academy addresses this problem by providing students with a self-contained transition program. Students move into town from the ranch campus and live in several well-established beautiful houses in downtown Kalispell, Montana. There they embark on a program that provides them with real challenges within a structured and supportive community. There they have the opportunity to practice independence as well as communal living surrounded by trusted adults.
The Sky House program has the goal of producing competent young adults by promoting independence, teaching valuable life-skills, encouraging responsible community involvement and supporting social and emotional growth. Students coming from the ranch are already accustomed to functioning with consistent structure and routine. Once they arrive at Sky House, they have the opportunity to create their own structure for a healthy balance of study, volunteer/job, exercise and recreation. Staff members are responsible for helping students follow through with indivdualized goals while supporting their ability to handle increased freedom as they demonstrate readiness for young adult life. Students continue therapy and follow through with addictions work both indivdually and in groups. Students learn to recover from their invevitable mistakes and to use the support of peers and adult staff in doing so. Students continue to improve communication with their families and make frequent visits home as their commitments permit.
No path is the same for individual students and life at Sky House makes special note with each new arrival. Building upon previous successes, each student establishes goals and objectives, in collabaoration with the treatment team, that ideally work towards increased confidence and autonomy. The Sky House routine provides students with balance between obligatory and unstructured time prompting increased self-guidance and building sustainability.
The Sky House program focuses on several program areas and incorporates these elements creatively into a dynamic schedule. Based on where each individual arrives academically, that student either is integrated into the local Flathead High School or may enroll at Flathead Valley Community College. Separate from academia, students are able to choose from a variety of volunteer opportunities throughout the local community and are expected to fulfill a specific number of hours each week. As freedoms increase, students are able to opt for paying positions and embark on the job search with staff support. The Sky House's life skills curriculum encompasses formal lessons as well presents itself in a number of practical problem-sovling situations. Students are provided local gym memberships and are taught balance and nutrition in shopping and meal planning. Family systems work as well as individual and group therapy are part of the routine which now focus on transition planning and the various experiences of more independent living. Students who continue to seek addiction support attend a specialized Sky House addiction study group and have the added benefit of the local recovery community through meetings and sponsors.
About Montana Academy
Founded in 1997, Montana Academy is a coed, accredited, privately-owned therapeutic boarding school located in Northwest Montana. Unique in the nation, Montana Academy providees students a robust combination of clinical sophistication, an effective therapeutic program and a challenging prep school all situated on a 500 acre Montana ranch. Instead of limiting treatment to symptom relief, Montana Academy pursues a two-step diagnosis and dual treatment: (a) to identify and then remove, insofar as possible, the obstacles to psychological development; and (b) to prod students to achieve new psychological milestones and so to restore the momentum of normal adolescent maturation.
Evoke Entrada therapists Tim Mullins, MA, LCPC and John Tobias, MS, CMHC will be speaking at this year's Young Adult Transition Association (YATA) Conference in Coeur d' Alene, Idaho on Thursday, October 18th. The title of their presentation is "Friend or Foe: An Exploration into the Role Technology Plays in Young Adult Mental Health."
In an era of pervasive Internet use (social media use in particular), there is little-to-no critical social discourse about its effects. The relatively recent Facebook personal information breach could be just the most immediate and visible of the mounting adverse personal and social consequences of its use. Widely thought of as “the great democratizer,” the Internet’s innocent, positive image is belied by its original purpose — surveillance. Facebook is now the largest source of news in the United States. In fact, 45 percent of Americans get their news from this one source, and it’s now widely known and accepted that it sculpts news content for each viewer (i.e., consumer). With over two billion users, Facebook finds itself in the position of media giant — a media giant that explicitly monetizes user information. This is unprecedented. We are in the midst of a grand social experiment the likes of which we’ve never seen.
There is rapidly accruing data that points to the connection between technology and mental health issues in adolescents and young adults. In fact, some social theorists assert that we’re on the verge of a mental health crisis — a crisis that can be attributed to the proliferation of Smart Phone technology. As face-to-face social contact has decreased drastically, we have a concomitant rise in mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and suicide.
The presentation will address the questions, "Dare we ask what the effects of social media use is on our young adults, both individually and socially?" and "What do we do about educating people on a healthy relationship with media, unfettered access to information like violence and pornography?" Therapists Tim Mullins & John Tobias believe that it’s imperative that we begin to actively define our relationship with social media by asking and consciously answering questions like these.
John Tobias recently wrote a blog on the topic as well. (https://www.evoketherapy.com/family-resources/blog/john-tobias/book-review-igen-by-jean-m-twenge-ph-d/)
About Evoke Entrada
Evoke Entrada is a Wilderness Therapy Program located in Southern Utah, operating year round and working with adolescents (13-17) and young adults (18 - 28+). Entrada is a clinically focused intervention that provides comprehensive support for clients and families and is designed to teach accountability, communication skills and healthy emotional and behavioral habits. Entrada is a proud member of the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Council and believes in the sharing of ideas among programs and colleagues in order to embody and promote best practices in the field of Mental Health and Outdoor Behavioral Health.
Valley View School introduces a new eight-week mindfulness course for students. Adolescence is difficult. A surge of hormones, increased social demands, expectations of greater maturity and personal achievement and fluctuating emotions leave many adolescents feeling as though they are unmoored. What should be a period of growth, exploration and self-discovery has the potential for adolescents to appear as though they have taken a step backward, withdrawing in one moment only to lash out emotionally in another. Valley View's new eight-week mindufulness program aims to help students quiet the mind, identify their emotions, remain in the here-and-now, and eventually "turn toward" previously crippling emotions in an effort to increase emotional resiliency and self-confidence.
For many years, the practice of "mindfulness" has become more and more accepted in the therapeutic community. Efforts from researchers like Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn and colleagues at the Center for Mindfulness at UMass Medical School have effectively researched the benefits of mindfulness in a wide variety of settings. The positive impact of mindfulness on stress reduction, blood pressure, depressive symptoms, anxiety, and chronic pain is well documented.
Valley View School's goal is to assist students in learning to harness the benefits of mindfulness in their academic, residential, social and family life. The eight-week course will identify for each student areas of concern and personal growth. Targeted daily mindfulness practice will teach students how to incorporate a variety of strategies as staff encourage and demonstrate the use of these strategies in real time. As students develop and identify personal mindfulness strategies, it is expected that they will improve in their ability to emotionally self-regulate, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, as well as grow in their self-confidence to "turn toward" those difficult emotions and situations that in the past have been stumbling blocks in their growth.
About Valley View School
Valley View School, founded in 1970, is a private therapeutic boarding school serving boys in grades 6-12. Our non-profit 501(c)(3) school is located in the central Massachusetts town of North Brookfield. The Valley View Program consists of a comprehensive blend of Therapy, Academics, Athletics, Arts and Activities challenging our students emotionally, intellectually and physically. The boys learn self-control and anger management, social skills in order to create and cultivate relationships with peers and adults, while developing compassion, empathy and respect for others and to realize their true potential.
For more than 15 years, people from around the country have come to New Haven to receive some of the most effective treatment for substance use and mental health disorders. Turnbridge has earned a reputation as a highly effective program that helps individuals and families achieve lasting recovery, independence, and improved well-being. Today, the Turnbridge program expands its clinical services to offer eating disorder treatment to clients in its residential program as well as to residents of New Haven through its community-based intensive outpatient clinic. Joy Zelikovsky, Psy.D., HSPP, M.A., M.Phil.Ed., M.S.Ed, an experienced clinician and researcher who specializes in the treatment of eating disorders, will head the new Turnbridge eating disorder program.
"Eating disorder treatment is a natural and necessary extension of Turnbridge mental health services," says Zelikovsky. "Eating disorders have the highest fatality rate of any mental health condition. They are highly stigmatized, not well-understood by most people, difficult to detect by untrained professionals and affect men and women of all ages — even children. We provide the coordinated physical and mental health care needed to treat eating disorders effectively."
Turnbridge is a CARF-accredited addiction and co-occurring behavioral health treatment program located in New Haven, Connecticut. Since opening 15 years ago, Turnbridge has earned a national reputation among treatment professionals and alumni for providing innovative, coordinated, and effective clinical care. Turnbridge clinicians and staff are highly skilled and mission-driven to help individuals and families learn to overcome the challenges of substance use and mental health disorders to lead lives of purpose and passion.
This month, six dedicated Pacific Quest staff members will join PQ Founder Chris Kaiser and Vision Fast facilitator and Darcy Ottey, Rites of Passage Master, on a 3 day rite of passage ceremony, the Vision Fast. The Vision Fast has been part of Pacific Quest's curriculum and been offered to all staff several times a year since its founding.
As Darcy Ottey describes this unique opportunity and PQ's Rites of Passage mission, "Throughout human history, individuals have left their communities to go to the land, alone, in search of a vision. By being still, with only oneself and the sounds of nature, we begin to listen deeply to our innermost self, and we can learn to listen to the world around us. This ancient practice can help us make sense of our stories, mark important transitions, and offer guidance for our next steps. Through slowing down, and listening, we tap into wisdom and insight difficult to gain in the activities of our daily lives."
PQ staff who are interested must read assigned material, submit a letter of intent, and commit to the entirety of the solo, as well as several pre- and post- Vision Fast meetings. PQ is proud to offer such an in depth and personalized training to our staff. It is by experiencing personal growth through this opportunity that our staff members are truly empowered to help our students.
About Pacific Quest
Pacific Quest is an outdoor therapeutic program, located on the Big Island of Hawaii, 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
At Solstice East, a residential treatment center for adolescents and young adults (ages 14-18), students have a safe place, both emotionally and physically, to live and learn. This is a very important aspect for students to heal and grow during their time at Solstice East. This month, Solstice East announces an exciting change to the residential setting - the teams have been reorganized and renamed! Each team still has a total of 12 students, with a staffing ratio of 1 staff to every 4 students, keeping the same residential staff assigned to each team. The low therapist caseload of 6 students per therapist also remains unchanged, giving each team two therapists that team up to help guide the student teams through the treatment process. The leadership team at Solstice East felt it became necessary, as the program has grown, to spread out the tenured therapists among the teams evenly, providing a significant time to rename the teams.
Students are organized into five teams, and our new teams are named for rivers in the Western North Carolina region: Hominy, Eno, Hazel, Alarka, and Laurel. Something that stood out to the leadership when picking the team names is how rivers are a metaphor for life; Heraclitis said, "No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man." The teams spend much of their time together, from meals to workouts, off-campus recreation and on-campus activities. Having both students and staff members divided into specific teams allows for deeper relationships to be built, and create a smaller, more family-like feel.
Additionally, students will be with their teams during adventure therapy outings where they will be focusing on water activities related to the new river team names.The Solstice East adventure therapy program is designed to provide our students with well-rounded, meaningful learning opportunities through outdoor recreation, experiential education and community service and events. Each week, students participate in an experiential education group that brings therapeutic concepts to life. Experiential groups focus on DBT concepts, social skills, leadership, emotional regulation and relationships. Lessons are then integrated into weekly off campus activities, community service and adventure camping trips to provide a context for students to apply these skills in real life settings.
Western North Carolina provides a magnificent and challenging outdoor classroom. The Solstice East adventure therapy programming provides opportunities to gain proficiency in a wide range of outdoor recreation skills including rock climbing, canoeing and kayaking, white water rafting, stand-up paddle boarding, hiking, biking and camping, amongst many others. Through these skills, students with mental health issues overcome their struggles while involved in these recreational activities together.
The intention at Solstice East is to create an environment where students learn through experience and gain insight and skills that can be applied to their daily lives. As they are continually challenged in multiple realms, Solstice East students gain a stronger understanding of themselves as individuals while strengthening relationships into the future.
About Solstice East
Solstice East is a residential treatment center for adolescents ages 14-18 located just outside of Asheville, NC. Solstice East has helped hundreds of students and their families with issues ranging from depression and anxiety to trauma and behavioral problems. Solstice East is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), and academically accredited by AdvancED and the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Additionally, Solstice East is licensed by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
This October at Trails Carolina, a wilderness therapy program for teens ages 10-17, therapeutic staff are providing insight into ways to prevent cyberbullying amongst teens, in honor of National Bullying Prevention Month.
A 2015 study conducted by University of Alberta researchers found an increased likelihood of depression associated with teens exposed to cyberbullying.
“For parents who are concerned that their child is being bullied online or is bullying others online, it’s important to watch out for signs of those behaviors,” comments Justin Messinger MA, LCASA, Primary Therapist at Trails Carolina. “Opening up the lines of communication with your child is key to understanding your child’s activities online. Additionally, there are several software options available to help monitor any potential cyberbullying that may be occurring. Keeping track of your child’s social media activity is very important.”
At Trails Carolina, several therapeutic approaches are utilized for students involved with cyberbullying or other forms of bullying. “For students who struggle with bullying, I frame the conversation around the importance of being kind to others,” says Messinger. “This is a simple, obvious concept that has proven to be effective in helping students understand the impacts of bullying and preventing bullying from occurring within the group.”
Trails Carolina Family Clinical Director Jason McKeown MS, LMFT, CPE, BC-TMH holds family support calls each week with parents, addressing a specific important topic each week. This month, he will be focusing on cyberbullying, including how to navigate cyberbullying with students at home and how to prevent cyberbullying from occurring in the first place.
For more information about bullying prevention, visit Trails Carolina’s blog on the subject: https://trailscarolina.com/blog/teen-bullying-month-can-support-child . To learn more about Trails Carolina, please visit http://trailscarolina.com or call 800-975-7303.
About Trails Carolina
Trails Carolina is a wilderness therapy program based just outside of Asheville, North Carolina that offers a multi-dimensional wilderness therapy model to troubled adolescents, ages 10-17. Trails capitalizes upon the profound effects of a student’s wilderness experience, and then combines that experience with strong clinical assessments and therapy. For additional information about Trails Carolina, please call 800-975-7303.
At Equinox RTC, a residential treatment center for adolescents and young adults (ages 14-18), students took part in “Experiential Week”, a week full of experiential adventure activities both on and off campus. This educational, fun-filled week included going camping and white water rafting in Tennessee. White water rafting is an activity with perceived high risk. Any adventure-based activities gives students the space to practice utilizing emotional regulation skills and interpersonal effectiveness. Students also went hiking and swimming at Hooker Falls off campus. Hikes and waterfalls are some of the therapeutic staff’s favorite spots to practice mindfulness activities with students. Finally, staff and students particiapted in fun, team building activities on campus. They had a pool party, engaged in team sports and music groups.
For therapeutic staff at Equinox RTC, planned recreational weeks such as Experiential Week help therapists see strengths and areas of growth within students and their families. For example, a student afraid of heights may overcome their fear during a rock climbing trip and build trust in others. Another student may be shy and quiet on campus but come out of their shell and take on a leadership role if they find they excel in a recreational activity. Recreational activities provide a chance for students to work through their challenges in a real, tangible setting.
Equinox RTC Primary Therapist Jordan Stevenot, MA explains the integration of experiential activities with therapeutic work, "I love the many hats and interactions I get to have with students and parents. I am able to have a front row seat to the changes as they unfold and see a personal and more in-depth side to my students and families during integrated therapy and recreation activities. I am able to see more of their lives and what makes them who they are. I get to be in the office as a traditional therapist but also outside living life with my students and engaging on a more personal level during adventure activities."
About Equinox RTC
Equinox RTC is a leading residential treatment center for adolescents ages 14-18. Equinox is unique in its focus on Trauma, Loss and Attachment, providing clinically intensive treatment for young adults struggling with anxiety, depression, OCD, ASD, learning disabilities, and other emotional and behavioral needs. Equinox offers a combination of clinically sophisticated support with a whole child approach including adventure therapy, integrated Cross-Fit program, and a whole foods diet. Equinox provides a fully accredited school, with broad course selections taught by licensed teachers in a college-preparatory environment.
Inspired by the belief that recovery from major psychiatric challenges is possible, Windhorse Integrative Mental Health began in Northampton, MA by a coalition of parents, professionals and peers. Since then the program has grown to offer services in San Luis Obispo, CA and Portland, OR. For 25 years, Windhorse Integrative Mental Health has been an essential part of the recovery process for hundreds of people.
The Windhorse treatment approach is based upon the recognition that significant recovery occurs when people are supported by authentic therapeutic relationships in home settings. Windhorse believes people are the Medicine — the relational approach is humanistic, compassionate and focuses on the whole person, healing the mind, body, spirit and environment.
To learn more about our program, please visit our website: www.WindhorseIMH.org. For an even deeper understanding of the Windhorse approach, read Dr. Ed Podvoll’s book, Recovering Sanity. Dr. Podvoll’s work provides the foundation of the Windhorse approach. It will change your perspective about the possibility of recovery in the community.
Questions? Please email Admissions@WindhorseIMH.org.
About Windhorse Integrative Mental Health
Windhorse Integrative Mental Health, an alternative nonprofit offers semi-residential care to adults living with psychiatric challenges (schizophrenia, bipolar, depression, anxiety and complex trauma). Clients live with dignity in the larger community supported by a multidisciplinary team, often including a therapeutic housemate. Services are individually tailored and represent a wide range of intensity and structure.
Windhorse operates in three locations: Northampton, MA, Portland, OR and San Luis Obispo, CA.
Three times a year Eva Carlston hosts a Family Weekend during which parents and sibling go to Salt Lake City to attend a 4 day event including workshops and visits with their daughter/sister. The goal of Family Weekend is to give parents, and siblings, hands-on experience with the daily work their daughters are doing and to help parents create relationships with other parents to find additional support through their journey; helping them realize they are not alone in their experiences. The classes and workshops are planned and structured with specific therapeutic goals in mind. With each building on the other to, hopefully, create a meaningful experience. Eva Carlston finds that although it is only a few days, intense family work can be done which has significant impact on the overall progress of the girls.
Regardless of how long they have been in the program, the girls find these Family Weekends to be beneficial. Of Family Weekend, one student said, “Family Weekend was fun bonding experience to learn more about my parents and about myself. Personally, I believe it is a good opportunity to improve my self and my relationship with my family.” Another said, “I loved Family Weekend. I liked that we had a guest speaker because he brought a lot of real life experience into the picture. Being able to share my art project with my mom was really special; I have been doing good work in therapy, and sharing it with her meant alot. I felt very comfortable speaking having all the support from staff and therapists.” Jessi Wacker, a therapist at Eva Carlston, said, “I like family weekend because of the opportunities provided for families to work on their dynamics in real time and experience the inherent healing, increased perspective, and empathy to facilitate their individual and collective growth.”
Workshops at Eva Carlston’s Family Weekends include:
- Guest speakers on anxiety and depression, the mind-body connection, and the Heroic Parent
- Art therapy
- Family sculpting
- Internet safety
- Parent support groups
- Personality and leadership styles
- Outdoor experiences
Eva Carlston looks forward to each Family Weekend and the opportunities they provide their clients and families.
About Eva Carlston Academy
Eva Carlston Academy (UT) is a licensed residential treatment center located near the urban center of Salt Lake City. The program serves young women between the ages of 12 and 18 in a clinically intense, family-style program which focuses upon creating opportunities for students to explore the arts while working toward continued growth and healing.
EDGE Learning and Wellness students continue to engage in Chicago’s diverse cultural environment after taking excursions to several of the city’s neighborhoods this fall. Exploring different areas of the city has given students the opportunity to not only gain a deeper understanding of their peers and fellow Chicagoans, but also themselves.
Before each outing, EDGE students take initiative and research different Chicago neighborhoods. They then present their findings to one another during a weekly community meeting. Together with EDGE team members, students vote for the neighborhood they want to visit and the activities in which they’d like to participate. “It’s been a blast seeing how excited our students and team have reacted to planning and orchestrating these various neighborhood outings,” said EDGE Program Director Jean Hausmann, LCSW. “We always try to expose students to life outside of the Chicago Loop. We really want them to think about their interests and how other people live in our large, diverse city.”
Prior to traveling far “outside of the Loop,” EDGE students decided to start their neighborhood excursions close to EDGE’s downtown location. After taking a tour bus through River North, Gold Coast and South Loop, students and team members appreciated the beautiful architecture of the famous Chicago Water Tower while eating lunch inside of the building.
EDGE students travelled farther for their next two excursions and switched up their transportation methods, opting to take a water taxi to Chinatown and a CTA “L” train to Andersonville. In Chinatown, students enjoyed shopping at local markets while sipping boba tea. They loved the food they ate during the outing so much that EDGE Life Coach Candace McGee treated them to a noodle dish during EDGE’s next Community Engagement Night. Meanwhile, the Andersonville trip was less food-focused but just as fun. Students attended an art festival and toured the Gethsemane Garden Center. The plant lovers of the group certainly appreciated the nursery and took home succulents to nurture in their apartments.
Of course, EDGE students have endless opportunities to explore the city individually. However, these guided group excursions can help students improve in several dimensions of wellness, particularly intellectually and socially. On an intellectual level, students can develop curiosity and expand their knowledge and passions through cultural and artistic activities. Socially, students can overcome the anxiety of going through a new experience alone while building skills with their peers and the community.
With each neighborhood EDGE students visit, they expand their circles of connection and interact with others in a way that produces positive and fulfilling interpersonal relationships. EDGE can’t wait to see where its students will decide to visit and grow next.
About EDGE Learning and Wellness Collegiate Community
EDGE Learning and Wellness Collegiate Community is an accredited transitional living program located in Chicago, IL. EDGE offers therapeutically supported residential and non-residential options for post-treatment young adults. The participants, ages 18 -24, are striving to excel academically, while creating a life of balance, joy and wellness.
At Journey Home East, a transitional living program for young adults ages 16-21, residents have the opportunity to participate in weekly physical activity classes together. One of these classes is a local crossfit class with Fitness Coordinator Joseph Hart. These crossfit classes have become very popular as residents look forward to bonding and growing stronger and healthier together. With health and wellness being one of the core principles at Journey Home East, this group exercise class allows for residents to practice balancing the other aspects of their core principles work, much like balancing obligations in the real world.
Fitness Coordinator Joseph Hart is an Asheville native and has dedicated his life to serving clients, much like Journey Home East residents, of all ages and abilities. Joseph works to tailor all workouts to meet the needs of Journey Home East residents, creating challenging workouts yet allowing each resident the opportunity to bond and deepen their positive relationship with exercise. Joseph’s dedication to the Journey Home East residents is apparent; he has an ability to build rapport and strong relationships with residents and staff alike through his unique and personalized way of facilitating strength training and high intensity workouts in a group setting. Residents with all body types and differing abilities can participate regardless of any physical limitations, due to Joseph’s way of modifying workouts as needed, using body-positive language, and empowering them to try something new and challenging. Joseph incorporates team building, play, and healthy competition into his work with residents, leaving them with a feeling of friendship, strength, and self-confidence.
Because of the unique and accepting classes at Journey Home East with Joseph, residents who previously feared and/or avoided exercise show up each week with enthusiasm and develop a new-found sense of self-assurance and focus on body positivity. In addition to his work with the Journey Home residents, Joseph dedicates time out of each Sunday to facilitate a drop-in class for Journey Home employees, fostering positive and strong relationships among staff that carry over into the work done with residents. Joseph’s strength not only lies in his incredible athletic abilities, but in his ability to see each person he works with as unique and capable and communicate in a very compassionate and caring way his genuine interest in helping them become the strongest they can be – mind, body, and heart.
At Journey Home East, the Five Core Principles which are at the heart of what will help young adults live happy, productive lives, are integrated into the all aspects of the program. Healthy living is one of the core principles that helps residents take care of themselves both physically and emotionally, preparing them for leading independent lives in the future.
About Journey Home East
Journey Home East serves females aged 16-21 and provides structure for students while they learn independent living skills. Much of the structure and support provided by our 24/7 staffed home is managing electronic devices, managing free time and social life appropriately, and budgeting, shopping for groceries, and cooking meals. Clients enrolling at Journey Home have a previous therapeutic placement, where home was not an option afterward. They are provided with a therapist in the home to work on individual and family issues.
Asheville, NC: In North Carolina’s Smoky Mountains, New Vision Wilderness was eager and excited to open its wilderness doors to young adult (ages 18-25) clients starting this past May. Throughout the summer NVW- Asheville has been trekking around the Nantahala forest with a group of young adults focusing on healing relationships, unveiling depression, anxiety and stress management, and ultimately integrating a stronger sense of self to connect to a full life ahead.
NVW-Asheville enthusiastically welcomed Ryan Ebersberger, LCSW-A, to lead young adult students to healing within the wilderness. With Kristina Fortner, Executive Director, Liz Deardorff, Clinical Director, along with seasoned NVW Field Leadership, the NVW- Asheville team had a bountiful and adventurous summer full of connection, emotions, laughs and growth.
The lush forest provides a plethora of opportunities, vistas and critters to explore. NVW-Asheville was focused on making connections throughout the community to provide their students with the richest opportunities North Carolina offers. NVW-Asheville students paddled the rapids of the Nantahala River, met some very kind and friendly horses (Duncan and Blue) for an equine session, and learned about masteries such as American Sign Language (ASL), guitar, shelter building, and fire making to greater build their esteem. The opportunities have proved to be very fruitful to engage and support the students on their internal journey.
As the summer departs and the leaves begin to change, NVW-Asheville is continuing to accept young adult enrollments and waiting for what this next season will bring into harvest.
About New Vision Wilderness
New Vision Wilderness (NVW) is located in Wisconsin, Oregon and North Carolina. It serves teens and young adults and does not rely solely on a physical challenge regimen as the catalyst for positive change. NVW de-emphasizes the behavioral level system, favoring instead a relational focused treatment plan that includes mastery projects to assist with attachment and connection. This is what sets us apart and provides an unparalleled wilderness experience while adhering to the highest standards of safety and individual attention.
Completed in January 2018, the Oxbow Academy Evaluation Center provides a safe place for teenage boys with issues related to sexual addiction to receive a thorough 90-day clinical evaluation. The completed evaluation will determine whether or not the young man requires sex-specific treatment. The Evaluation Center is separate from the rest of the campus, and only includes young men who are undergoing assessment. Each young man receives an evaluation which includes a sexual history disclosure which has been confirmed by a clinical polygraph, a write-up from the teen’s therapist, teacher, and residential staff, as well as an informed recommendation for future treatment.
The evaluation process has been refined by Oxbow Academy’s more than two decades of experience in providing sex-specific treatment to teenage boys. That experience is reflected in the design of the Evaluation Center itself. The Evaluation Center is a homelike environment that is also easily monitored and safe. “We designed it. We built it. We know how to ensure that everyone is safe and treatment can be most effective,” said Clinical Director Todd Spaulding, LCSW, CSAT.
Young men stay at the Evaluation Center during their first 90-days of treatment. The principal focus during this time is to understand the young man’s sexual experiences and fantasies in order to identify his therapeutic needs.
“Oxbow Academy functions with a fundamental belief that unless you have the truth, you can’t heal. So, the evaluation center is built on that notion that we have got to get to the truth in order for the whole family system and the student to heal,” said Spaulding.
An important part of this is a disclosure. This process takes time and requires patience from parents and the clinicians working with the young men.
“I like to tell parents it is like breadcrumb-dropping, like in Hansel and Gretel,” said Admissions Director Tiffany Silva, LCSW. “They will drop one piece of information, and they will see how their parents and therapist react. Then if it is safe to keep going, then they will drop some more.”
Generally, a disclosure will take one or two months to complete due to the need to build rapport and trust with the student. After a young man’s therapist has obtained what appears to be a complete disclosure, then the young man will be expected to complete a clinical polygraph. The polygraph is used to confirm the thoroughness and truthfulness of the disclosure. The polygraph is conducted by a former therapist who is trained in working with people on sex-related issues. Far from being an antagonistic experience, the polygrapher’s goal is to help the young man tell the truth and pass the polygraph.
After the young man successfully completes the polygraph, then he is sent to an independent psychologist of the parents' choosing, to undergo a psycho-sexual evaluation. Other programs that offer psycho-sexual evaluations typically do so without the benefit of the polygraph-verified disclosure and treatment, academic and residential notes. Providing this information prior to the psycho-sexual evaluation makes the evaluation more accurate. At the end of the evaluation process, parents will know with confidence whether or not sex-specific treatment is right for their son.
“We get the whole history, and we use a polygraph to validate that history so that we know that it is accurate. Then based on that accuracy we can take a [psycho-sexual evaluation] which is going to give us a roadmap of exactly where we need it to go,” said Spaulding. “Psycho-sexual evaluation is only as good as the information that is provided. And if I only give you half of the information, you are missing half of the picture.”
About Oxbow Academy
Oxbow Academy is a residential treatment center specializing in helping young men between the ages of 13–18 with issues related to sexual abuse, sexual addiction, pornography addiction or other compulsive behaviors. For more information, visit Oxbow Academy’s website at https://oxbowacademy.net/
Over the last 6 years, Chamberlain International School and the Hilltop School (located in Skive, Denmark) have each enjoyed hosting staff and students as part of a short exchange program. The Hilltop School is a co-educational, therapeutic boarding school for young people with Autism Spectrum Disorder, with a mission focused on teaching students independent living skills. Chamberlain and Hilltop collaborate in joint training sessions focused on sharing information based on best practices and open dialogue. The students also get together and do a variety of team building exercises and activities.
Hilltop will be visiting with Chamberlain until October 14th. While here, the Danish students stay in the dorms, visit classrooms and tour some of the areas best attractions; in Massachusetts they have visited the Museum of Science, enjoyed a Duck Boat tour around the city, and spent time at historical landmarks along the Freedom Trail, Bunker Hill and the USS Constitution. They also have some serious shopping excursions planned as well as a Whale Watch. “We love showing them around and exploring the differences between us and Denmark” says one longtime staff member who has visited Hilltop and accompanied their contingency here in the states as well.
About Chamberlain International School
Located in Middleboro, Massachusetts, Chamberlain International School offers a therapeutic residential learning experience for students ranging in age from 11 to 22. Students at Chamberlain International School struggle with a variety of learning disabilities and mental health challenges.