All Kinds of News for October 09, 2019
Growth and Transition are important tenets at Sunrise RTC.
Sunrise is able to continue to provide therapy, support, and programming each student experiences at Sunrise, even after she turns 18 years. Our Sequoia home provides an opportunity to learn additional skills and experiences, creating a smoother transition into a life of independence. Here are some facts about how Sunrise is able to support the young women, after they reach 18.
- At what age does a student go to the Sequoia home?
For clients that join us in that age demographic (usually 17+), they will have the opportunity to transition to the Sequoia House.
Is the Sequoia home on the Hurricane or Fields Campus?
Sequoia is part of our Washington Fields Campus just outside St.George, Utah.
How is student life different in the Sequoia home?
Girls in the Sequoia home have a greater level of independence including the opportunity to create their own schedule and custom meal plans, increased access to personal phones and computers and much more. In addition, they receive life skills coaching from a dedicated Sunrise team, so they are well-prepared and equipped to continue their life worth living at home, in a college or university or in the workplace.
What size is the home?
Sequoia is comparable to dorm-living with up to 10 students total. Sequoia offers a small home feel with shared bedrooms, a kitchen, living room, office and patio space.
If a student graduates High School while at Sunrise, is there an opportunity for other schooling ?
Yes, Sunrise support Sequoia girls attending one of the two local four-year colleges and, in fact, many of our older girls are already co-enrolled while finishing High School. In addition there are many opportunities for girls to work or have formal, professional internships in the community or to attend technical colleges.
Does Tuition increase when a student moves into Sequoia?
No, Tuition does not increase.
What is Aftercare, and why is this helpful?
Aftercare is a set of services that provides ongoing support for families and students after graduation from Sunrise. These services are designed to help ease transition and increase independence as well as continuing to assist the entire family in maintaining real life change. A great way for students to feel supported is meeting with their aftercare coach twice a week. During this time they are learning things such as how to sign up for local classes, goal setting, meal prep, finance budgeting, etc.
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.
Last month, ScenicView Academy participated in Salt Lake City’s FanX conference by hosting a quiet room, a place where convention attendees could relax and recharge. The partnership with FanX not only allows for ScenicView to provide an important service for FanX attendees, it also furthers the non-profit’s mission to increase awareness about the unique needs of adults with autism.
“ScenicView Academy is great at what we do, empowering adults with Autism to 'Live, Work, and Thrive' in the community,” says Alex Johnson, Admissions and Business Development Director, “We are always looking for opportunities to allow others to learn about us, and were thrilled with the opportunity to attach our name to something as significant as the FanX convention.”
Featuring low light, noise cancelling machines, plush seating, an art table, massagers, and sensory toys, the quiet room was put to good use by several hundred grateful attendees. One appreciative fan commented “I was feeling overwhelmed and thought I’d have to go home until I found your quiet room. Thank you!”.
ScenicView Academy, founded in 2001 in Provo, UT, is a nationally recognized nonprofit school for young adults with autism spectrum disorders, neurodiversities or learning disabilities. Through our residential programming, we empower our students to reach their potential and gain skills to live independently. Scholarships are available based on financial need. SVA is accredited by National Commission for the Accreditation of Special Education Services (NCASES).
Personalized repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (PrTMS) is a powerful new therapy being offered by Telos. The treatment uses low amplitude, non-invasive, magnetic pulses to stimulate or suppress out-of-sync neuronal activity in functional brain areas, we call brain arrhythmia.
The newly built clinic is a smartly appointed area that looks more like a spa than a doctors office. With the announcement of Telos’ participation, Kevin T Murphy, MD who developed it, traveled to Orem UT in September to share and train on the new system. See more on his visit https://www.facebook.com/TelosRTC/posts/2957493817600896:0.
Telos has been asked to conduct a year-long study for FDA trials on other disorders like Autism. The range of successful treatments are impressive with over 50,000 scans completed. Telos maintains medical staff and techs who perform these scans and Telos' doctor works in conjunction with Dr Murphy to analyze and offer the proper course of treatment.
The system uses only 25-30% of the power of a traditional TMS system. It is able to do this by measuring and identifying areas of the brain with qEEG needing help, then treating those exact areas of the brain. Less power, more accuracy means better outcomes. Tony Mosier, COO of Telos remarked "We are excited from the results of PrTMS, many are life-changing. We anticipate more great outcomes from the Autism clinical trial starting in January".
Substantial benefits have been seen in treating conditions as simple as “foggy thinking” to complex conditions like autism. The following are a few key elements of the system:
- Low amplitude
- 30 minute treatments
PrTMS is powered by PeakLogic and all treatments are done according to each individual’s protocol and dose established by a licensed treatment provider. Each patient does the initial assessment test and then 6-8 weeks of daily treatments. For many, this is all that is needed. Others may need a “tune-up” 6-12 months later to obtain the optimal balance. Eventually the protocol is no longer needed as the brain operates in a balanced mode. For more information visit telos.org/prtms or contact email@example.com.
Telos is located at the base of the Wasatch Mountains in beautiful Orem, Utah. Available are two campuses specifically designed for teens and co-ed young adults dealing with depression, anxiety, social problems and learning differences. Caring staff use proven clinical therapies coupled with the power of healing relationships to promote deep, lasting change. The aim is to help students live principle-based lives characterized by insightful choices, that promote clarity, healing, and direction. Telos is a unique, clinically-sophisticated, relationship-based treatment center for teens and young adults ages 13-26. For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org or www.telos.org.
Evangelhouse Christian Academy, in its endeavor to provide treatment excellence in a Christian environment for teen girls™, recently announced the addition of two professionals to its already amazing treatment team. Joining them are a nutritionist and an additional teen and family therapist.
Leila Irvan, MS, MDTR, CLT joined as the Nutrition and Wellness Coordinator. Leila is a Registered Nutritionist Diet Technician and a Certified Lifestyle Eating and Performance Therapist. Her background includes working in naturopathic nutrition and functional medicine. She has worked in private practice, neurodevelopment and weight loss clinics. Her specialty is in food sensitivities and behavior change coaching. Leila supports students with individual plans for managing a variety of emotional and behavioral food-related symptoms. She loves to use art in her instruction time and she frequently incorporates it into wellness activities for self-expression and stress management.
Allison McFatter, MS, PLMFT joined as the Teen and Family Therapist. Her background includes having traveled abroad to work in the field of trauma and human trafficking prevention. She worked in India, Japan and Cambodia before completing her Master of Marriage and Family Therapy degree at Valdosta State University. Allison has extensive training in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (E.M.D.R.) therapy to treat traumatic memories. She also has extensive training in Ericksonian hypnotherapy. Using these skills, she worked with servicemen suffering with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (P.T.S.D.) before transitioning to Evangelhouse in her new role. Allison’s engaging therapy style supports students in exploring past events and how they shape behavior choices.
The addition of Leila and Allison will greatly enrich the holistic treatment model Evangelhouse is known for. Their skills add to the clinical team’s ability to treat the underlying causes of high risk behaviors for teen girls.
About Evangelhouse® Christian Academy
Evangelhouse® Christian Academy is a boutique, fourteen-bed therapeutic boarding school for girls ages 12-18 in St. Martinville, LA. The academy offers a unique integration of licensed clinical therapy in a non-denominational Christian environment. To learn more, visit www.evangelhouse.com
Consistent with College Excel’s policy and approach of staying current to the challenges of young adults, they will be presenting on a very relevant topic at the upcoming Young Adult Transition Association (YATA) conference at the end of October. The presentation will center around the concept of climate anxiety and how it relates to young adults in the current times. The presentation will be led by College Excel’s Executive Director Tomas Amodio and will be co-presented by Nathaniel Millard, PhD from California State University.
Here is an excerpt from the presentation summary:
“Climate change is a reality with harsh consequences for our emerging adults looking to the future, trying to make decisions about their careers, thinking about their long-term dreams, families, homes, travel and retirement, and wondering what the future might hold. We are beginning to enter a place where the younger generation will have a more difficult time than the previous generation. More large scale climate disasters are upon us, wildfires with huge disastrous consequences, increased hurricane activity, long term droughts, sea level rise, and more. We are watching, with fear and anxiety, an earth in peril and leaders not willing, or unable, to make decisions to change the course. As we already know, large scale social movements are led by the youth. Are we preparing our youth for this future? Do they feel empowered? Are they frozen with anxiety, stricken with grief, depressed about the future? Our presentation will show our findings of our students and present some ideas of how we are trying to move forward and empower students to action. With examples from both public and private educational institutions, we will highlight current research about climate grief, look at trends around the world, and then look at how people are coping, healing, and empowering people into action.”
We hope that you’ll make the time to attend the presentation at YATA and would welcome a further conversation.
About College Excel
Founded in 2003, College Excel is the nation’s leading residential college support program located in beautiful Bend, Oregon. At College Excel, post-secondary adults (18+) with diverse learning needs requiring extra support are provided the structure they need to move forward, both academically and personally. Using a proprietary, blended coaching model rooted in Harvard research-based neurocoaching and behavioral coaching techniques, College Excel students receive daily support from a team of credentialed and experienced Academic and Student Life Coaches while earning transferable college credits.
Trails Carolina is excited to report findings from an ongoing outcomes study, which explores the overall effectiveness of wilderness therapy. New findings around the population of Trails students who are adopted demonstrate significant improvements in a variety of symptoms after their graduation from Trails.
Twenty-two percent of students participating in the Trails study are adopted. They demonstrated a similar pattern of symptoms as the larger sample of youth, with the most prevalent problems at admission being anxiety and depression.
Upon admission at Trails, parents of adopted students reported:
- 58% reported that their child was anxious and depressed, 41% reported that their child was withdrawn, 42% reported that their child was exhibiting aggression.
- 45% reported that their child was having attention issues, 55% reported rule breaking behaviors, 40% reported that their child experienced social problems.
- 65% reported that their child experienced internalizing behaviors, 50% reported that their child experienced externalizing behaviors.
One year after graduation from Trails, parents reported the following about their child:
- 19% reported that their child was anxious and depressed, 5% reported that their child was withdrawn and that their child exhibited aggression.
- 10% reported that their child was experiencing attention issues, 1% reported that their child was exhibiting rule breaking behaviors, 10% reported that their child was having social problems.
- 19% reported that their child was experiencing internalizing behaviors, 2% reported that their child was experiencing externalizing behaviors.
For the past five years, Trails has partnered with the Center for Research, Assessment, and Treatment Efficacy (CReATE) and the Arkansas Institute of Developmental Science to conduct this outcomes study. Learn more about the outcomes study at Trails by visiting https://trailscarolina.com/outcomes.
About Trails Carolina
Trails Carolina is a wilderness therapy for pre-teens and adolescents ages 10-17. The clinically sophisticated and time-tested program engages students through wilderness therapy, mindfulness and yoga, equine assisted therapy, intentional transitions, and academic engagement. Recent outcome research demonstrates efficacy. Trails Carolina was created to help families reconnect and heal. For additional information about Trails Carolina, located just outside of Asheville, North Carolina, please call Admissions Director Julia Andrick at 800-975-7303.
Seven Stars, a residential treatment program and assessment center for teens struggling with autism and other neurodevelopmental challenges, is excited to announce that Hunter Christian has joined their team as a Recreation Lead.
“We are thrilled to welcome Hunter to our outdoor recreation team,” says Dr. Gordon Day, Executive Clinical Director and Founder of Seven Stars. Adventure based programming at Seven Stars provides students with meaningful challenges and learning opportunities. Hunter is extremely passionate about helping young people on the spectrum and will be a wonderful mentor and guide to students.”
With a degree in Therapeutic Recreation and Psychology, Hunter has spent his career working in a variety of recreational and therapeutic settings. Prior to joining Seven Stars, he spent time as an adaptive ski instructor for the National Ability Center and as a guide for a wilderness adventure therapy program.
“I believe that outdoor recreation should be easily available to anyone, regardless of their abilities,” says Hunter. “I’m extremely excited to be a part of the Seven Stars team and cannot wait for the adventures to come!”
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 https://www.discoversevenstars.com or call 844-601-1167.
Trails Momentum, an outdoor adventure-based therapy program for young adults ages 18-25, recently launched “Healthy Living”, a twelve week seminar series in which students will explore a variety of topics which promote nutrition awareness and best practices.
This seminar will kick off with a discussion around different kinds of dietary regimens. This portion of the seminar will be a combination of classroom education of dietary regimens and cooking specific meals based on each type of diet.
In addition to learning about diet types, the seminar series will include lessons on serving sizes of various food groups, the importance of water in the human body, the role of sleep on mental health, the benefits of stretching and exercise, and the positive impact that nature has on the human body.
“Each lesson will include research and will be directly connected with the healthy living practices at Trails Momentum,” says Dr. Sarah Parlier, Director of Student Development at Trails Momentum. “When students prepare meals throughout the program, we will be integrating a food-based lesson related to the preparation. Our goal is to help students build the knowledge and skills to carry these healthy living lessons into their daily lives as they enter young adulthood.”
About Trails Momentum
Trails Momentum is an alternative to traditional wilderness programs for young adults ages 18-25 who are struggling to launch themselves into adulthood. Students are guided on a journey of self-discovery where they develop self-concept and are empowered to make the transition into independence. Adventure programming, clinical services, family involvement, college coursework, and social skill development are seamlessly interwoven to maximize the transference of important life skills and address clinical and behavioral challenges.
ATLANTA – Skyland Trail, a nationally recognized nonprofit mental health treatment organization, welcomes new additions to its adolescent treatment team. The followig individuals will serve adolescents ages 14 to 17 with a mood disorder, anxiety disorder, or OCD at the new J. Rex Fuqua Campus scheduled to open in late October 2019. At the J. Rex Fuqua Campus, each adolescent receives evidence-based, compassionate care from a multidisciplinary team of experts in the field of adolescent mental health. Members of the treatment team collaborate to consistently address challenges identified in each teen’s treatment plan and provide specialized support to help the teen progress toward treatment goals. In order to provide the best therapeutic experience for teens and their families, Skyland Trail’s entire treatment team consists of masters-level clinicians who are licensed or licensed-eligible clinicians.
The treatment team includes:
- Allison Nitsche, MD, MPH – Medical Director of Adolescent Services
- Les Cole, M.Div., LPC, CPCS, NBCC – Vice President of Adolescent Clinical Services
- Jennifer Caruso, M.Ed., LPC, CPCS – Director of Clinical Residential Services
- Shanee Toledano, PhD – Lead Anxiety/OCD Track Psychologist
- Katrina Goines, PhD – Lead Mood Track and Research Psychologist
- Ashley Lanier-Pszczola, M.S., LAMFT – Family Therapist
- Elise Roche, M.S., ATR-P, LAPC – Creative Arts Therapist
- Kerry York, M.Ed. – Education Director
- Jessyca Hayward, MSW – Residential Counselor
- Iriss Mickens, MSW – Residential Counselor
- Annalisa Sherrill, LMSW, MSW – Residential Counselor
- Holly Tufan, MA – Residential Counselor
- Allyson Yankauskas, LAPC, M.Ed., NCC – Residential Counselor
- Rachana Sureka, MD - Pediatrician
- Jennifer Harris, AC-PNP – Nurse Practitioner
About Skyland Trail
Located in Atlanta, Skyland Trail is a nationally recognized nonprofit mental health treatment organization serving adults ages 18 and older and adolescents ages 14 to 17 with a primary psychiatric diagnosis. Through our residential and day treatment programs, we help our clients grow, recover, and reclaim their lives. Skyland Trail is focused on individuals with complex mental health issues through expert, evidence-based psychiatric care alongside a compassionate, holistic path to wellness. Our integrated mental, medical, and social model helps clients develop strategies to improve mental health, physical wellness, independence, and relationships with family and friends. Unique therapies include music, art, and horticultural therapy; workforce and school readiness; primary care services; family therapy; pastoral counseling; and healthy living and nutrition coaching. Learn more at www.skylandtrail.org
Got brains? Boulder Creek Academy does, and they are using them! In addition to the numerous therapeutic practices that Boulder Creek Academy already implements, the school has introduced the cutting edge therapeutic practice of neurofeedback with students.
“Neurofeedback…,” according to the 2019 EEG Info “is training in self-regulation. It is simply biofeedback applied to the brain directly.”
Neurofeedback addresses problems of brain dysregulation. This includes the symptoms associated with anxiety, depression, autism spectrum, attention deficits, behavior disorders, various sleep disorders, headaches, migraines, and emotional disturbances.
Kim Carey, a Senior Therapist at Boulder Creek has received professional training, and is using this model of therapy. She shared that students are sleeping better, asking for additional sessions, and students are asking if others can participate in a session as they see the needs of a peer. Students feel comfortable engaging in activities that they enjoy while participating in the quiet calm location of the neurofeedback room. Kim’s goal is to touch as many lives as she can. “It works, it is enjoyable, and kids are excited,” Kim states. “Kids are following through more, regulating their emotions better, as well as, managing anxiety and depression, and seeing success in their academics.” Kim feels that this is a tool that can produce life-long changes.
About Boulder Creek Academy
At Boulder Creek Academy, students rediscover their academic and social confidence. The key to our success is that we reignite our students’ belief in themselves by utilizing time-tested and proven methods. Students begin to experience academic achievement, regain self-esteem, learn to embrace their uniqueness and become capable learners who are confident in themselves. Each day at Boulder Creek Academy is purposefully designed to maximize experiences that allow students to practice social skills, improve self-worth and develop healthy identity, benefit from therapeutic learning and to have fun.
Boulder Creek Academy has been creating a therapeutic learning environment for high school students ages 14-18 with anxiety, depression, untapped academic potential, interpersonal relationship difficulties, limited executive function skills and overlooked strengths and talents for more than 25 years.
Point School Puerto Rico is excited to announce that Founder and co-owner Sean M. Rose is now onboard with the team at PSPR full time.
With Sean’s knowledge and insight into mental health programming and therapeutic consultation, “Sean is an ideal fit for this role. We are elated by the breadth of knowledge he brings. It will be of huge benefit to our clients, families and partners all over the country,” said Tim McMahon, Executive Director of Brightstone Transitions and Co-Owner of Point School Puerto Rico.
Sean Rose has been employed by Justice Resource Institute since 2006 and, most recently, he was the Executive Director of the JRI Connecticut Division and adjunct training faculty. Ending his time with JRI and beginning a new chapter with Point School Puerto Rico, Sean states, “This is a dream come true. I have been working for years to have an opportunity like this.”
Photo courtesy of Worcester Magazine
About Point School Puerto Rico
Point School Puerto Rico is a hybrid gap year program for young men, ages 18-22 that includes cultural immersion, experiential and service learning paired with an intentional focus on character strength development.
It is well known how important social and emotional learning (SEL) is for youth, particularly as they navigate the adolescent stage of development. In particular, research completed over the last 10 years has found that teaching a developmentally appropriate mindful awareness curriculum in school “can infuse all five dimensions of SEL (self awareness, self management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making) with more depth, and potentially, greater reach and sustainability.” (Greenberg, 2014; Lawlor, 2016 cited in Broderick, 2019; See also https://casel.org/core-competencies/).
Recognizing the significant benefits that mindfulness training provides to our students, the academic team at Gateway Academy added an evidenced-based mindfulness curriculum into our students’ school schedules. In researching a variety of mindfulness programs, it became clear that our approach must be research-based and taught in accordance with the CASEL’s (Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning) "SAFE" standards (Sequenced, Active, Focused, Explicit), in order to ensure the highest possibility of augmenting our student outcomes.
Accordingly, Gateway clinicians and teachers have been trained and certified to integrate mindfulness into all aspects of therapy and programming, and to incorporate mindful learning into the academic curriculum. Such training includes completion of an 8-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, and a 3-day training designed specifically for teachers to provide mindfulness instruction based on a CASEL-approved mindfulness curriculum for adolescents. Further, to maintain certification after initial completion of MBSR, clinicians, teachers and our management staff participate in quarterly 2-hour refresher trainings.
Numerous neuroscientific studies on mindfulness show that mindfulness interventions not only enhance treatment efforts but also, when taught in school, can reduce emotional distress, promote emotional balance, improve attention and increase motivated learning. (Broderick, 2013). Implementing our mindfulness curriculum at Gateway has been a complex but rewarding experience in further integrating our academic and clinical teams. More importantly, it has given our students another way to make empowering connections between the skills they learn in therapy and the content they are learning in school. Through their participation in our mindfulness program both in therapy and in school, our students have shown improvement in their ability to sustain attention, regulate their emotions, develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, that has not only enhanced their academic achievement, but their overall well-being as well.
- Broderick, Patricia C. (2019). Mindfulness in the Secondary Classroom: A Guide for Teaching Adolescents (SEL Solutions Series). New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Co.
- Broderick, Patricia C. (2013). Retrieved from https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/31291/why-teaching-mindfulness-benefits-students-learning.
- Davidson, L. L. et. al. (2011). State-level indicators for social-emotional development: Building better systems. National Center for Children in Poverty. Retrieved from http://www.nccp.org/publications/pdf/text_997.pdf.
- Siegel, D.J. (2012). Pocket guide to interpersonal neurobiology: An integrative handbook of the mind. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.
About Gateway Academy
Gateway Academy in Utah, is dedicated to the healthy development and healing of adolescent boys and their families. We provide a safe and nurturing environment through five integrated programs: Therapy, Academics, Community, Outdoor Education and Fitness. With integrity and respect, we help students feel empowered and valued, build healthy relationships, make thoughtful decisions, develop life skills, become life-long learners and achieve their personal best.
Evoke Therapy Programs is excited to announce Kate Rutecki as the new Field Director for the Entrada location. Kate fell in love with the outdoors while working for the adventure program at James Madison University, where she graduated with a Bachelor’s in Corporate Communication. She experienced how the wilderness provides the opportunity to learn about ourselves and knew she wanted to prioritize that in her life.
After working with youth at summer camps in Maine and California, Kate moved to Utah to be a wilderness therapy field instructor. Kate spent the following 12 years working in the therapy industry and was a senior field instructor and transporter at Evoke Entrada. Prior to returning to Entrada this summer, Kate worked as a mentor and staff coordinator for an individualized treatment program. She is excited to be back with the Evoke family in a position that allows her to support field instructors as they teach, challenge, and show care in the wilderness.
Kate values the grit, confidence, and sense of peace she gains from spending time outside. She loves exploring the beautiful slot canyons of the desert and seeing new places on backpack trips. Kate also works to develop strong self-care so that she can thrive in her personal life and at work. Her continued efforts towards balance inform Kate as she helps staff and clients find ways to care for themselves.
About Evoke Therapy Programs
Evoke Therapy Programs at Entrada, in Santa Clara, Utah provides innovative mental health treatment solutions for struggling teens, young adults and their families. Their programs foster lasting change utilizing the power of nature and Wilderness Therapy. They also offer Personal Growth Intensive Workshops for individuals and families that are looking to create dynamic changes in their life or to simply find the balance they are seeking.
Ken Gilbert, MC, LPC-I has joined Evoke Therapy Programs as a primary therapist at the Cascades location. Ken has worked with Evoke for four years as a field instructor, parent coordinator and clinical assistant while he finished his graduate studies. Ken works primarily with young adults struggling with substance use and addiction in a wilderness setting. In addition to the treatment of substance use, Ken focuses on treating underlying anxiety, depression, grief and trauma through an attachment-focused and relational lens. Ken balances 12-Step and clinical work with clients exploring the possibilities of recovery from addiction. Ken received his Master’s in Counseling from Oregon State University.
As a person in long-term recovery (and a former wilderness client), Ken utilizes his own experiences and unique approach to relate to his clients. Ken believes in the power of the wilderness in allowing clients to slow down, and improve their ability to be present in their own lives. Ken utilizes therapeutic modalities such as Relational-Cultural Theory, DBT, and Somatic and Attachment-Focused EMDR in individual sessions with clients. Additionally, Ken works experientially with clients, as he knows traditional “talk therapy” is not always effective for everyone. Ken enjoys working with clients that have been through traditional therapy and rehabilitation before with limited success.
Ken is excited to move into the role of primary therapist at Cascades and states, “I’m so grateful to be a part of the journey with clients I work with. At the core of addiction is isolation and shame. Bringing folks together to learn to connect and be in relationship is such an important part of recovery work.” When Ken is not working he’s an avid river surfer, skateboarder, and enjoys exploring the beauty of Central Oregon.
About Evoke Therapy Programs at Cascades
Evoke Therapy Programs at Cascades, in Bend, Oregon provides research-proven Wilderness Therapy treatment for struggling teens, young adults, and their families. and this approach promotes lasting change. They also offer Personal Growth Workshops for individuals, couples, families, and professionals in the mental health field that are looking to create lasting changes in their life.
This year marks an important milestone for the residential wilderness hybrid program Shepherd’s Hill Academy. This year (2019) marks 18 years that this unique program, which features an unplugged environment, has served teens in crisis and their families in a residential capacity.
With humble beginnings in 2001, Shepherd’s Hill Academy has grown to become a top choice among Christian Therapeutic programs. While Shepherd’s Hill Academy is a faith-based program, empirically-based clinical excellence is at the core of the program values.
Elise Thrift, Clinical Director at Shepherd’s Hill Academy explains, “At Shepherd’s Hill Academy we emply clinically sound and empirically based modalities within our individual, group and family therapies. We believe that healing is derived from a holistic approach for our students and families. We integrate both faith and empirical reason to address the many needs of our clients. From a holistic view, it is imperative to address the whole person: emotionally, psychosocially, environmentally, biologically, and spiritually. Shepherd’s Hill Academy utilizes theoretical approaches such as CBT, DBT, Person-Centered Therapy, and Family Systems Theory, as an important part of treatment. Our licensed clinical team has experience applying these interventions to produce the best outcomes.”
Since 2001, Shepherd’s Hill Academy has served over 330 teens and their families from across nearly 40 states and 19 other countries. By combining fully accredited academics, therapeutic interventions, and an unplugged wilderness-style adventure setting, Shepherd’s Hill Academy offers a full therapeutic milieu conducive for sustained healing and life change.
“It is an honor and a blessing,” says Founder and Executive Director Trace Embry. “When Beth and I began laying the foundation for this program 25 years ago, we had no idea what was in store. God has blessed us with an excellent team that has allowed us to continue to serve families from around the globe.”
Shepherd’s Hill Academy continues to grow and expand, with this 18th year being no exception. Now spanning 200 acres at the foothills of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, Shepherd’s Hill offers a haven of hope to families in need.
About Shepherd's Hill Academy
Shepherd’s Hill Academy is a faith-based Residential Therapeutic Boarding School for teens in crisis and their families. SHA serves boys and girls (in gender-specific programs) between the ages of 12 and 17 years old, who are dealing with issues of behavior and mental health. This includes, but not limited to, addiction, family issues, trauma, digital addiction and more. Learn more about Shepherd’s Hill Academy at shepherdshillacademy.org
Creating and maintaining healthy relationships are at the core of programming for Solstice East, a residential treatment center for teen girls ages 14-17. While healthy relationships with peers are critical, restoring the family unit is necessary to ensure lasting change in the lives of each student. Recently, Solstice East launched new parent workshops that help parents begin the hard work of family therapy early in the program, setting the stage for the important work they will do with their children.
Parents will attend this workshop in the first 4-6 weeks of their child’s stay. In the workshop, parents will take a class on psychoeducation, and learn more about relationship-based trauma-informed care. Parents will also work with the horses on campus, learning about Trauma-Focused Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (TF-EAP). The workshop focuses on identifying boundaries and explores the pressure and release system.
Through new parent workshops and family seminars, parents gain the skills needed to support their daughter’s healing. Family seminars give parents the chance to connect with other families facing similar struggles.
One of Solstice East’s alumni families shared the impact that family therapy had on their relationships. Kendall’s father reflects on his experience at family seminars, “when we were in a group environment and got to see other families interacting, [seeing them] having similar problems or different problems, and how they reacted to those -- that was very important to our own growth.”
This new parent workshop is in addition to the existing family seminars that take place quarterly.
Learn more about family programming at Solstice East by visiting https://solsticeeast.com/family-therapy/ or by calling (855) 672-7058.
About Solstice East
Solstice East is a residential treatment center for young women ages 14-18 struggling with process addictions, substance use, and trauma. This program helps young women detach from unhealthy coping mechanisms by integrating healthy habits into their lives. Students learn to cope with emotions, communicate effectively, form healthy relationships, and build confidence. Their holistic approach acknowledges that addiction is only one piece of the puzzle to be addressed in order to help girls succeed in multiple areas of their lives.
Question: Why do some young adults tend to have chronic executive functioning problems in most areas of daily life and yet can display these same functions in a few specific activities? They are not lazy - not faking it - not unmotivated. So, it must be something else.
The problem manifests in complex ways:
- Developmental impairments of executive functioning
- Self-management of the brain
- System of mostly unconscious operations
- Impairments are mostly situationally specific
- Significantly interferes with function in several aspects of the person’s daily life
Research shows that executive functions work together in various combinations. Further it is understood that clusters of various cognitive functions interact dynamically to complete tasks, and that they operate automatically, quickly (faster than lightning) and are not dependent on step by step conscious thought. So why the distinction in executive functions in different arenas? It is emotions that underlie the ability to focus on some tasks very intently while also being chronically unable to focus on other important tasks.
Keep in mind that a person’s capacity to use these executive functions depends on a developmental process that begins in early childhood and continues well into the mid or late twenties. As these cognitive functions mature and come on line gradually through the long course of development into early adulthood, the infrastructure of the brain needed for these executive functions develops very slowly. It takes about two decades of gradual development for executive functions to reach their mature capacity. With that being said, impairments of executive functioning is essentially a developmental delay and appears in various forms at different ages.
Although the links between executive functioning and emotions are complex, they are important to understand so they can be addressed. Some research has proposed that executive functioning exists along a dimension of emotional intensity where “hot” executive functions which would deal with tasks that have strong emotional involvement are differentiated from “cool” executive functions which deal with more abstract, less emotionally charged tasks. This suggests that hot executive functions involves symptoms that look like hyperactive/impulsive ADHD whereas cool executive functions involve symptoms that look like inattentive ADHD. There are complex and dynamic, integrated ways in which the hot and cool aspects interact in individuals with symptoms of ADHD regardless of subtypes.
Having conflicting or unrecognized emotions isn’t unusual for any of us, with or without executive functioning difficulties. But, managing these complicated emotions and tasks as well as the relationships they affect is very difficult for the person with an executive functioning deficit. When we fail to understand the basic facts of their executive functioning dysfunction – and believe that they are being willful or lack the will power to change, adapt or function – it leads to blaming the victim.
There are several steps needed to assist these young adults who are struggling:
- Change the context – new living arrangements with ongoing academic support
- Sober living support
- One to one coaching around compulsions, cognitive inflexibility, difficulties from switching from one activity to another, and the impact in some cases of a lack of empathy
- Therapy to address the often unrecognized social anxiety resulting from their deficits
- Daily assistance with ADL’s until they can be performed independently
- Parent coaching focusing on pressures of family expectations and shame and to help parents avoid micromanaging their child
- Undertaking employment where there is structure and more immediate rewards and consequences are provided
- Development of friendships, increased social exchanges, and community living
- Monitoring to support sustained effort in academic studies despite (for some) previous episodes of failure (with failure at times being a fear based avoidance)
- Maybe most importantly, a fresh start
All of these interventions have the goal of cultivating realistic hope (a particularly helpful and important emotion). Hope is essential to sustain efforts to get unstuck so the young adult can develop their strengths and cope more effectively with stressors and have a successful academic or vocational and social comeback.
Getting unstuck is a process that involves:
- Thoughtful assessment
- Effective treatment
- Supportive environment
- Healthy relationships
- Ongoing therapy to address those complex and often hidden emotions
With the correct supports in place, many of those stuck due to executive functioning deficits can develop realistic and sustainable hope and learn to thrive.
About EDGE Advance
EDGE Advance is a transitional program for neurodiverse (Autism Spectrum Disorders - ASD) young adults. Utilizing a clinically integrated coaching model, the goal of EDGE Advance is to create a path for emerging young adults to develop the habits and skills necessary to lead autonomous lives of purpose!
New Focus Academy, a residential treatment program for teens with neurodevelopmental disorders, is opening a new extension of the program this month called 'New Focus Autonomy House'. The Autonomy House helps students launch into independence with additional support.
The program is based on the Autonomy Development Model created by New Focus Academy’s Executive Director and Founder, Dr. Brandon Park, where staff becomes more of a resource as teens demonstrate that they are able to make more independent informed decisions. “As students progress through the program, the role of the treatment team transitions from caretaker to guide,” says Dr. Brandon Park. “This process helps provide the resources necessary to help students live as independently as possible, while increasing their quality of life.”
After several months as a resident at New Focus Academy, boys between 15 and 18 have the option to transition to the Autonomy House, where they have additional program privileges and more opportunities for independence.
Students who transition to the Autonomy House have demonstrated increased Social-Emotional Fluency and are prepared to practice the skills they have learned in the community. The boys are expected to have a job or a volunteering commitment. They are encouraged to create and manage their personal schedules with less staff supervision.
At the Autonomy House, teens are able to utilize local services, coordinate their own transportation to activities, use technology mindfully, manage their own money, and make connections with people in the community.
About New Focus Academy
New Focus Academy is a therapeutic residential treatment program for adolescent boys ages 12-18 with neurodevelopmental disorders. Located in Heber City, Utah, just outside of Salt Lake City, New Focus Academy prepares struggling teen boys for a purpose-filled, independent life. New Focus Academy creates an environment of success using a positive reinforcement approach and empowering students to take small steps leading to big changes and overall wellness. To learn more about the Autonomy House through New Focus Academy, click here or call the program at (844) 313-6749.
Elevations RTC, a residential treatment center for teens ages 13-18, incorporates mindfulness into therapeutic programming on a daily basis. Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness of the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.
For over a thousand years, mindfulness has been a central component in a variety of religious and secular practices from Hinduism and Buddhism to yoga. More recently is has been applied through medical research and practice. Mindfulness practice has been utilized to moderate signs and symptoms of stress, including anxiety, irritability, burnout, apathy, restlessness, headaches, fatigue, concentration difficulties, excessive worry, substance abuse, smoking, eating problems, sleep disturbance and other psychological difficulties.
“At Elevations, we utilize Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) as the primary framework for the clinical work we do with youth,” says Jordan Killpack, MA, NCC, LPC-S, LCMHC, Clinical Director of Elevations RTC. “DBT is an evidence-based approach for teens and adults who experience significant trouble managing emotions, thoughts and behaviors. Mindfulness practice is an important component of the DBT work we do with students.”
Additionally, mindfulness practices are utilized by both staff and students throughout their daily self-care. Each Monday, Killpack sends out a Mindful Monday email to staff that provides tips on different ways to use mindfulness each day.
Students practice mindfulness and meditation exercises each morning and evening to help relieve stress and clear their mind.
“An ongoing Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program by the University of Massachusetts School of Medicine found that participants have shown a 43% reduction in psychological and emotional distress and a 26% reduction in perceived stress,” says Killpack. “Students have seen similar powerful results from DBT and mindfulness.”
Learn more about clinical programming at Elevations RTC by visiting https://www.elevationsrtc.com/clinical/ or by calling 855.290.9681.
About Elevations RTC
Elevations RTC is a unique 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 RTC is located in Utah and provides specialized, clinically intensive programs to struggling teens. For more information, please call 1-855-290-9681.
Equinox RTC, a residential treatment center for boys ages 14-18 struggling with trauma, is excited to announce that Melissa Margolin, LCSW, has joined their clinical team as a primary therapist.
Melissa has extensive experience working with teens in wilderness therapy and other therapeutic settings. She transitioned from a role at a wilderness program to work with families in the Department of Juvenile Justice, Department of Social Services, and various mental health services. Her background has given her exposure to a wide variety of mental health diagnoses and their intersection with trauma symptoms.
Kyle Gillett, Executive Director and Founding Partner at Equinox RTC, notes, “I am thrilled to have Melissa join the Equinox Family. Her energy and way-of-being with our team and students has quickly endeared her to our system. Melissa has an incredible ability to challenge teenagers while remaining in solid relationship with them.”
Melissa Margolin is looking forward to participating in Equinox’s adventure therapy program. Using the relationship-based approach as a guide, she understands the clinical importance of doing therapy outside of office walls, actively seeking relationship and change, and using the leverage gained to accentuate overall health.
“Time spent in nature provides teens with the opportunity to identify what is important and what is meaningful for them,” explains Margolin. “Without the constant ability to escape through social media, texts, video games, and entertainment, time spent with oneself is inevitably a time of reflection that allows space to value and be grateful for what is important: meaningful relationships, activities, and experiences.”
Melissa Margolin is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and received her Masters from Western Carolina University. She specializes in working with teens who have experienced trauma and applies a trauma-informed model to all of her clients. When not at work, Melissa can be found hiking, rock climbing, or puttering in her cut flower garden.
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 provides a fully accredited school, with broad course selections taught by licensed teachers in a college-preparatory environment. Learn more about Equinox’s mission by visiting our About Us page, or by calling (877) 279-8925.
Fulshear Treatment to Transition South is proud to announce its first annual 5K, Run for Life. Fulshear is motivated to do whatever it takes to help decrease the suicide rates not only for clients, but communities, families, and friends. The purpose for this 5K is to bring the community together and make available resources to help support suicide prevention. Fulshear also hopes that this is a time we can remember and celebrate those we have lost to suicide. All proceeds for the race will be donated to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention- Houston Chapter.
Fulshear is doing this because, according to the CDC, 1,400,000 people in the United States attempted suicide and 47,000 people died by suicide in 2017. Who are these people? They are our children, our cousins, our siblings, our parents, and our friends. This tragic act is the last action a person takes after a struggle of pain, hopelessness and hurt. For those left behind, it is a permanent painful solution and we bear the remaining burden of guilt, disbelief, and wonderment.
Run for Life will take place on December 14th at the Skeeter’s Stadium in Sugar Land. There are may ways to participate in this event:
Please join Fulshear for this special event and share the information with your friends and family. https://www.fulsheartransition.com/5k-run-for-life/
About Fulshear Treatment to Transition East and Fulshear Treatment to Transition South
Fulshear Treatment to Transition, founded in 2003 and accredited by the Joint Commission, is located right outside of Houston in Needville, TX and Stafford, TX and now Winchester, VA. Fulshear works with young adults of all genders 18-25 struggling with mental health issues along with accompanying co-occurring disorders, and is known for its development of the Fulshear Adult Attachment Model.
SUWS of the Carolinas will be celebrating their 20th anniversary throughout the upcoming year, kicking off with a party at National NATSAP on February 5th in Palm Springs, CA. SUWS looks forward to reflecting on the past 20 years and plans for many years to come.
Often times SUWS is the foundation for clients – a solid starting place that allows them to continue to build and grow. In the same way, SUWS has been a foundation point for countless staff that have gone on to pursue careers in the outdoor or therapeutic/treatment fields. SUWS invites those staff represented at the NATSAP party so they ask folks to email email@example.com with any pictures and memories that can be displayed. Maybe it’s a story of an epic snowstorm or maybe it’s a testimony to all the ways that SUWS has helped you in your professional and personal life. Whatever it is, SUWS would love to hear from you!
About Suws of the Carolinas
SUWS of the Carolinas and Phoenix Outdoor 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 outside of Asheville, SUWS delivers wilderness based therapeutic interventions for 10-17 year old boys and girls with compassion and excellence.
ViewPoint Center does everything in their power to help families afford assessments and treatment for their teens, by accepting insurance and successfully billing out of network benefits for many families. ViewPoint Center supports families throughout the insurance appeals process and employ a full-time, seasoned Utilization Reviewer.
Insurance Review Process to Assist Familes
Each insurance company has a utilization review process for determining 'medical necessity'. About 98% of insurance companies will not approve admissions until their licensed practitioner has assessed the patient. They want up-to-date clinical information and a face-to-face assessment. Before the insurer makes the phone call, they always have the child’s full history; this would include relevant information from the parents & ViewPoint Center's licensed Practitioner.
Most families insurance coverage averages 25-30 days of the patient's 6 to 7 weeks (average length of stay). This means that families who successfully receive insurance coverage are able to get the majority of their child assessment covered by insurance.
In 2018 ViewPoint Center received a total of 2650 days covered by insurance billing. Other highlights:
- 131 Total Insurance Utilization Review Cases
- 119 Cases Received Authorization
- 12 Cases Denied upon 1st Attempt (0 Days)
- 90.83 General Success Rate
- 22 Avg # of Days/Per Authorized Case
- 425 Acute Days Authorized
- 222 RTC Days Authorized
The process of getting approved and receiving benefits takes time and oversight through our seasoned Utilization Reviewer. The 2650 total days that were covered by insurance in 2018 is a number that the ViewPoint Center is aiming to surpass in 2019.
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 6-7 weeks, ViewPoint Center provides superior assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and stabilization for teens struggling with mental and behavioral issues such as suicidal ideation, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders. In a safe, personalized environment, ViewPoint helps teens focus on the healing process.
TechieForLife (TFL) has brought on one of their graduated students, Dylan Matthews, to be their new 'Tech Coach' in St. George, Utah. Dylan has an innate ability to empathize with neurodiverse young adults, like those with Autism Spectrum Disorder and consequently, students at TechieForLife have a brilliant programmer mentoring them and serving as a role-model they can easily relate to.
Dylan brings an unmatched level of understanding and compassion to his classroom at TechieForLife. "He's always patient with issues we encounter. He thoroughly explains solutions in a manner we can understand and apply to other tasks. I really respect him because he's been in our shoes before," said Matt, TFL student. Without delay, Dylan has begun making enhancements to TechieForLife's tech program. Together with TFL's Program Director, Dylan is creating tech curriculum and developing a digital platform for TFL's Student Success Course. These two also regularly holding "tech connect" meetings with students to coordinate support on progress goals.
TechieForLife's previous Tech Coach accepted a position at a larger tech company in Provo, Utah. Shortly after, the hunt was on to find a suitable replacement to begin the academic year. TFL reached out to Dylan recognizing he was a natural choice to step in and Dylan accepted. "Best job I've had! I'm working directly with students instead of only computers. I get to see their daily struggles and successes," said Dylan.
Notably as a TFL student, Dylan was a successful team leader developing the web-based app NATSAPConnect. The app is currently being used by educational consultants and the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP) members. Additionally, his tutoring was instrumental in helping another TFL student finally complete his Masters in Applied Mathematics. While progressing through the TFL program, Dylan began working in an internship for busybusy, doing quality assurance for their app. He then took a job as a programmer with the tech startup QVR, which creates software programs to modernize the tracking systems for therapeutic residential programs. In addition to Dylan's new job at TFL, he continues to work with QVR.
To learn more about TechieForLife's innovative program and how they help neurodiverse young adults succeed, please visit techieforlife.com.
TechieForLife (TFL) is a co-ed, residential postsecondary school with a wrap-around career support program in beautiful St. George, Utah. Students with neurodiverse social, emotional and academic challenges such as autism receive mentoring at TFL so they can build social connections, confidence and independence. Licensed as a vocational school, TFL offers in-house computer tech training, college or trade school help, apprenticeships, internships and job support for individualized paths forward. At TFL, students have a place to belong and support to succeed.
Cascade Crest Transitions' (CCT) Parent Support Specialists support the specific needs of just the parent(s) of Cascade Crest Transitions students during the family's program/experience. Parent Support Specialists are licensed therapists who are part of the clinical team and work seamlessly alongside the primary therapist to support parents to do their own work separate from their son or daughter. The Parent Specialists work with parents to step out of a reactive place and into examining their own parallel process. This work includes recognizing family dynamics, taking on marital work, exploring how to navigitate the challenges of having a child in treatment, and examining their own family of origin.
“I love connecting with parents from all over the country, and sometimes all over the world. I really enjoy when parents are able to participate in their own process alongside of the process that their young adults are going through while at CCT. I believe that in order for our families to find their peace, it is important that the whole family engage in some level of change. It is a great honor and incredibly rewarding to be a part of that change in families," said Tracey Colacicco, MS, LPC, a Cascade Crest Transitions Parent Specialist.
The Parent Specialists help parents in finding a balance between supporting their son or daughter and allowing them the space to make mistakes as they emerge into young adulthood. They also help parents to be patient as their young adult learns new ways to engage in the world, as they struggle to begin the process of launching into their own lives as responsible adults with the tools to be successful in their life goals. Parent Support Specialists lead a monthly video support group where the focus is on a topic of interest, chosen by current parents in the program. This is an opportunity to hear about how other parents are dealing with issues that come up for them, provide support to other parents, and gain support from parents who have similar experiences. As parents dive into their own work we see our the young adults step out of the identified patient role and into a healthier, empowered role in the family.
About Cascade Crest Transitions
Founded in 2011 Cascade Crest Transitions has been an industry leader in aftercare/transitional programing for young adults. We working with young adults in a co-ed setting between the ages of 18-23. CCT offers continued therapeutic and academic support, sober environment, safe community, along with real life experiences. Our length of stay is 9-12 months, Cascade Crest is located in beautiful Bend, Oregon.
Pure Life Adventure is excited to offer a new base day experience for young adult participants. As they enter their sixth year of operations, Pure Life is excited to debut new bunkhouses at the Pure Life Base. Base days provide students a chance to reset, and reflect on the previous week, and prepare and plan for the upcoming week. Students will have a balance between a more minimal experience of camping while on itineraries, and sleeping in beds during base days. The bunkhouses are simple structures, yet the addition of beds and new bunkhouses will provide students a couple nights of comfortable sleep, to recharge and be ready for the next week's adventure.
Pure Life is very intentional in creating an environment that challenges the students, while providing a safe and healthy place to learn and grow. They believe discomfort is sometimes necessary for growth, and that by persevering through difficult experiences, students gain resiliency and empowerment. Allan Capp, Program Development, states, "As we discussed the option of offering beds to our clients, we realized we don't lose anything in terms of therapeutic impact and overall experience. Pure Life students are getting the full outdoor experience five days a week. Offering beds at base camp is a positive way to meet our young adults where they're at. For potential young adults who might be reticent to commit to a 2 -3 month adventure program, something as little as providing beds two nights a week could help them overcome their resistance and positively engage in a life changing experience."
Pure Life's daily and weekly schedules are designed in a way that supports mastery of new skills and the opportunity for students to define and reach their own goals. During weekly itineraries, students are fully immersed in the experience and activity. Itineraries range from whitewater rafting, surfing, certifications, backpacking, and cultural home stays. While on itinerary, students live simply, camping and being close to nature and focus on learning and engaging in the activity. Each week after completing the itinerary, students return to Base. The beautiful property, tucked beneath the breathtaking Diamante ridge on the pacific slopes in southern Costa Rica, is a home away from home. It's during base days that students meet with their individual therapist, participate in group therapy, engage in yoga classes, participate in the Pure Life Life Skills Curriculum, and prepare family style meals together. All of these activities work in concert to support students in their individual process, while engaging and being part of a community. The advent of beds will help support this sense of community for the Pure Life students.
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.
Northwest Passage, a residential mental health treatment program for children located in Northwestern Wisconsin, is excited to share news of their recent expedition to Dry Tortugas National Park in partnership with the National Park Service.
In 2009, with support from an America’s Best Ideas grant from the National Park Foundation, Northwest Passage (NWP) developed a therapeutic nature photography program named ”In a New Light”. Residents were taught professional-level photography skills and honed them at their local national park, the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, as well as in national parks throughout the country. The results of their work were displayed locally and nationally and rapidly gained recognition and acclaim.
In 2014, the program expanded to include the underwater environment of Northwest Wisconsin. With additional guidance from freshwater ecologist and National Park Service researcher and SCUBA rescue diver, Dr. Toben LaFrancois, Northwest Passage began a subsequent project dubbed “Under the Surface”. With rigorous safety training and intentional therapeutic design, they began exploring the underwater world of Wisconsin’s lakes and rivers. The benefit to NWP residents was immediately apparent and the project rapidly became an institution within the Northwest Passage program.
“Into the water I went, washing away the pain the scars left. I watched the memories float down the stream, away from my thoughts, away from me. Submerged in the peaceful currents, I let myself go for just a moment. As I rose up out of the water, the sun seemed to shine brighter. I knew I was going to be okay.” Jade, Northwest Passage resident, age 16.
In the summer of 2015, The Submerged Resources Center of the National Park Service, the division tasked with the conservation and care of underwater resources within the National Park System, sent their Deputy Chief and A/V specialist, Brett Seymour, and his team from Denver, CO to mentor the NWP photographers. From there a relationship grew and ultimately took the form of support for select NWP graduates to participate in underwater photography expeditions to Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida.
Three expeditions, in 2016, 2018, and 2019, have taken place to date (the 2017 expedition was canceled due to Hurricane Maria). Four graduates and one current resident recently returned from their expedition to the remote park in the Gulf of Mexico. Facilitated by Dr. LaFrancois, project leader Ian Karl, and NWP photography instructor Ben Treichel, the five photographers spent a week as VIP guests of the park exploring the coral reef ecosystem and photographing this national treasure.
“…There’s so much that happens [at Dry Tortugas National] that is unlike anything I’ll ever experience again, seeing baby sea turtles hatch, watching thunderstorms move through. There is a calming effect of being on the ocean, but actually being able to go under the surface, to see all the coral and fish, gliding effortlessly with your fins, I just love underwater photography here. I wish you could experience it….” Jack, 18, Northwest Passage Graduate
The group was hosted by the Dry Tortugas National Park staff, Brett Seymour and Susanna Pershern, and a team of experts in the fields of marine ecology, underwater ecology and diving. They stayed at and explored historic Fort Jefferson on Garden Key. Their underwater photography destinations included two shipwrecks, a coral reef at Loggerhead Key, and historic underwater structures surrounding Garden Key. They culminated their time at the park by sharing their work in a presentation with the National Park Service staff on the island. Their photography and stories are currently on display regionally and online at www.inanewlight.org.
About Northwest Passage
Northwest Passage is focused on blending traditional mental health treatment with arts and nature-based therapy to restore hope in their clients. By investing in the lives of marginalized youth, Northwest Passage is influencing and changing how mental health is ultimately treated and viewed. The transformations seen are no less than extraordinary.
New Vision Wilderness is excited to welcome Leah Madamba, as the Chief Operating Officer for the New Vision Wilderness Division. By creating this new position, New Vision Wilderness demonstrates its commitment to quality programming by adding a 20-year veteran to the team.
During Leah's career, she has worked as a wilderness field instructor, wilderness therapist, program director, and clinical leader and innovator for several nationally recognized programs. Most recently, she has been leading the national efforts of the Potomac Programs In-Home team (formerly known as Vive Family Support Program). Drew Hornbeck and Steve Sawyer, co-founders of NVW, are thrilled to have Leah join their team. Drew Hornbeck, CEO of NVW, said, "With the development of this position, we are doubling down on supporting our families and team." Leah's role will include oversight of the Wisconsin and Oregon programs and the development of new locations.
"My heart has always been in the wilderness. Returning to Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare with such a talented group who is mission-driven is a dream come true," said Leah. "I look forward to supporting Andrew Scott and Kaci Sapinski in their roles as Executive Directors."
Leah lives in Asheville, NC, with her husband and two children. When she is not working, you can find her reading a book, in a hot yoga class, or spending time outside with her family.
About New Vision Wilderness Therapy (NVW)
NVW serves preteens, teens, young adults and families in three (3) U.S. locations: the beautiful Northwoods of Wisconsin, the majestic Cascade mountain range of Central Oregon and the lush Nantahala National Forest of North Carolina. NVW is a specialty wilderness therapy treatment program that is clinically intensive, highly specialized and trauma-informed. To learn more, go to www.newvisionwilderness.com or contact Admissions at 855-689-8326.