All Kinds of News for September 11, 2019
Have you ever purchased a new car or appliance and been asked to add an extended warranty? And how often do you opt not to do that and wish you had? You’ve invested a good amount of money in this product and it fails right after the warranty runs out. Frustrating right?
Now apply that concept to the residential treatment process of your client, child, or family member. You’ve invested countless dollars, love, support, and emotional energy into helping this young person get well. You’ve all done the hard work and there have been significant gains for everyone involved. The young person is healthier, the family system is healthier and you can start to see a promising future for all. Then the young person goes home. Things go great for maybe the first month or two - the honeymoon period, let’s say - then there is likely some level of regression. Old habits start to surface, old friends come back into their lives, parents also fall back into unhealthy patterns of parenting, and then what? All the above mentioned blood, sweat and tears goes right out the window?? Yes- this does happen, and will almost always happen if there isn’t the right support set up to insure it doesn’t
Continuing Care is the extended warranty. Think on that for a minute. If you don’t invest in that extended warranty and your appliance or car breaks down, what happens? You have to spend more money to either fix the product or buy a new one, right? Same thing is likely to happen if you don’t invest in good continuing care. If a young person comes home after any amount of time in residential treatment and the family does not have the proper supports set up to deal with that major transition, what is likely to happen? Common sense would say that there is a good chance things will fall apart. And common sense would be correct. And if that happens, it is very likely that young person will end up needing to go back to a residential treatment setting.
So buy the extended warranty! Invest in your investment! Give your family the opportunity to succeed. A good continuing care program is going to help plan and execute the transition home by working closely with the treatment team currently involved. That process can be individually tailored to the needs of that client and family to best support them. It should include clinicians/coaches that will help the client apply the skills they have gained in treatment in the real world, coaching for the parents to hold boundaries and stick to any home agreements that have been made, and a strong relational based family system treatment plan.
This will hopefully be the last step for the family to move into a healthier future. So if you wish you had done this for your washing machine, imagine how much you would wish you did it for your child.
About Potomac Programs
Potomac Programs is a relational and experiential therapeutic support service for pre-teens, adolescents, young adults and their families. With our unique approach and roots in the community, Potomac Programs works closely with families to offer insight, implement coping skills and rebuild trust within the family system. Our goal is to ensure lasting positive change for our clients and their families. Offering services in Boston, New York City, Washington, DC metro, Chicago, Atlanta, and San Francisco.
How would you define the role of office manager? Perhaps like this?
1) A person who solves problems you can't.
2) One who does precision guess work based on unreliable data provided by those of questionable knowledge.
3) One who serves as the anchor to a sinking ship.
4) Also referred to as wizard, magician.
Often the unsung heroes of programs are those working behind the scenes as office staff. Whether it's filing hordes of paperwork, ensuring that ATC is in compliance with employee and client files, answering the constant ringing telephones or managing accounts payable and receivable so the company stay afloat, their jobs are tedious and often under appreciated. At the Crossroads (ATC) would like to publicly acknowledge their office manager, Tina Smith.
Tina grew up about 200 miles south of Salt Lake City in the town of Beaver, UT. She has spent most of her adult life in St. George. Tina has been married 10 years this year to her beloved husband, Eric. She has one daughter, Preslee, who is in school to be a master esthetician, so Tina is right there in the thick of it when it comes to parenting a young adult. This October will mark the 10 year anniversary of her employment with ATC. For those of you who know the founder and executive director, Brian Virgin, spending a decade working for Brian speaks volumes about who Tina is, in and of itself. Tina is hard working, reliable and always carries a positive disposition to work regardless of what may be going on in her personal life. Everyone at ATC thanks her for your decade of service in helping the At the Crossroads program continue to grow and thrive.
About At The Crossroads
At The Crossroads is a young adult program providing coaching, clinical support and real life trial and error experiences for young adult men and women ages 17-28. Located in St. George, Utah, our clients live in family style residences where they work and attend school. The goal of our program is to help our clients become self reliant and financially independent. Although there is variance with the underlying diagnostic indicators that bring a young adult to ATC, the inability to develop healthy individuation is at the common root of our clientele.
Calo Lake Ozark has discovered the power of Improv. For the last year and a half, the students, their families and staff have been learning and playing improv for the amazing and powerful benefits it offers. Using the comedic art form of improv, short thirty second to three-minute-long games are being applied to both the Teen and Pre-Teen program with awesome results. At Calo's annual Trauma Conference, keynote speaker Mary DeMichele facilitated a thirty-minute Improv Jam where Calo students, educational consultants and clinical professionals, who previously had little prior understanding or experience in improv and who had not even met each other, performed together to wonderful effect. Under the direction and facilitation of Mary DeMichele, consultant and author of One Rule Improv, Calo offers students weekly improv classes and the integration of improv games throughout their daily schedule.
Improv, although typically known for its comedic value, is applied in education, clinical practice, business and for self-improvement. It’s rule of “Yes, and…” delivers fast and simultaneous benefits. Almost immediately, interpersonal and social-emotional skills supporting the development of acceptance, empathy and resilience develop. Students move from an oppositional mindset to one of listening, adaptability and coregulation. Self-acceptance and trust grow giving a foundation to build relationships, decrease anxiety and so much more.
For more information about improv at Calo, please contact, Improv Coordinator and Teen Boys Case Manager Brian Knox at email@example.com
For more information about the approach to teaching and applying improv at Calo please visit OneRuleImprov.com.
About Calo Programs
Calo Programs (www.caloprograms.com) is a unique organization comprised of an extraordinary family of programs, all dedicated to healing the effects of early trauma. Calo is a leading network of clinical and therapeutic programs that offers a comprehensive set of services focused on cutting edge, trauma-based interventions.
All Calo programs implement a unique and truly relational treatment model based on the science of neurobiology and evidence-based attachment and trauma treatment research. Calo’s proprietary Developmental Trauma CASA Treatment Model and Clinical Structure is pervasive throughout the programs. The unique model facilitates establishing, deepening and maintaining healthy and safe relationships that ultimately lead to co-regulation and Joy.
AIM House is excited to announce that clinical services are now in-network with several insurance companies! Although no major shifts have been made to the AIM House profile or ideology, the ability to create a more focused and curriculum-based clinical continuum will help to ensure AIM participants receive the best possible therapeutic and psychiatric services.
Mentoring and executive functioning support, as well as academic, vocational and creative coaching, still remain essential cornerstones of the AIM House program. In addition, AIM participants have access to the vast resources in Boulder, including Madelife’s Creative Accelerator programs and the University of Colorado.
Many in the industry will remember the beautiful, historic “Earl House” in North Boulder, which in the past housed the young women’s program. This building has now been repurposed into Boulder Integrated Health (BIH). BIH is a fully-licensed Intensive Outpatient Program serving the greater Boulder community as well as the University of Colorado. BIH is also where AIM House participants will be receiving a focused, therapeutic curriculum, designed specifically for AIM House. All AIM House groups run at BIH will be private and specific to those in the residential program; including both a mental health and substance abuse track with access to experiential groups such as equine therapy and acu-detox. The focused curriculum, including group and individual therapy, is designed to take place during the first phase of AIM House, so as to provide structure and momentum on the front end of a participant's program. After the eight-week curriculum is complete, individual and family therapy will continue throughout the duration of the program.
Above all, leadership and staff are proud to be celebrating our 20th anniversary by enhancing the approach at AIM House.
Founded in 1999, AIM House is a transitional living program located in Boulder, Colorado. Young adults come from wilderness therapy programs, residential treatment programs, therapeutic boarding schools and drug and alcohol treatment centers. Mentors and therapists work with each participant to create an individualized program that meets the needs of the participant and their family. Participants have access to a large variety of educational institutions, including the University of Colorado Boulder. AIM House also offers executive functioning support, vocational coaching, and personalized artistic and entrepreneurial mentorship.
ATLANTA – The Skyland Trail Transitional Living Program offers independent living apartments for adult clients transitioning from residential to day treatment or community reintegration. To provide more support during this transition, Skyland Trail recently added:
- An expanded transitional staff team, consisting of an onsite transitional assistant, a transitional nurse, two independence coaches and a dedicated recreational therapist
- Onsite hours for a licensed nurse to help with medications and wellness checks
- Additional onsite therapeutic and skills-based groups throughout the week and more staff-led community outings and activities
Transitional living may be an option for some clients admitting directly to day treatment if clinically appropriate, especially if they are transferring from another residential treatment program. To learn more about how transitional living fits into the Skyland Trail continuum of care, please visit www.skylandtrail.org/our-programs/transitional-living.
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.
Meet Mark Ellis
Embers’ primary therapist Mark Ellis specializes in working with the unique developmental-challenging boys ages 11-15 who struggle with anxiety, oppositional behavior at home, low social skills, rigid thinking, depression, Autism Spectrum Disorder, trauma and attachment issues.
According to Ellis, “healing is done within the entire family unit, not just the individual.” He explains, “I help families build a toolbox full of options to manage their emotions in stressful situations by learning conflict resolution and becoming more accepting and communicative moving forward.”
Benefits of Age-Specific Therapy
At blueFire, boys are surrounded by a supportive community of other boys around their age who have faced similar challenges. Group conversations focus on topics relevant to this age and steer clear of more mature topics, inappropriate for this younger group. Students who have had a history of being bullied and social isolation have the opportunity to develop meaningful relationships with other boys through healthy social activities.
Why Wilderness Therapy?
Wilderness therapy empowers young teen boys to make healthier choices and build a strong support network to help them overcome the challenges they’ve faced. Boys work with their primary therapist to set personal goals, and with a milieu therapist during adventure activities and equine therapy.
blueFire utilizes horse and animal therapy, mindfulness, breathing techniques and conflict resolution techniques in this young group to create awareness and as tools to regulate their emotions. Adventure activities teach young boys new activities that they can take home, help them build teamwork skills, and change their old patterns of behavior.
Call 1 (844) 413-1999 or visit https://www.bluefirewilderness.com/ for more information about the Embers program.
About blueFire Wilderness
blueFire Wilderness embers group is an adventure-based program specifically designed for pre-adolescent boys ages 11-15. We separate our groups by age, gender, clinical needs, and behavioral support in order to meet the specific needs of each group. Wilderness therapy offers middle school boys concrete experiences and teachable moments that help them to practice critical thinking, problem-solving, and conflict resolution skills they will need to thrive as they enter their teenage years and young adulthood.
Red Oak Recovery® and The Willows at Red Oak Recovery® are excited to announce that our trauma-focused mental health and substance abuse young adult programs for men and women are now in-network providers with Blue Cross Blue Shield. In-network insurance coverage includes Partial Hospitalization (PHP) and Intensive Outpatient (IOP) services.
“In an effort to continue to provide intensive clinical care for young adults while meeting more families in need of affordable treatment cost options, we are excited to be able to serve our clients and families in this way,” says Jack Kline, MS, LPCS, LCAS, CCS, CTT-2, MAC, President and Founder.
Reach out today to learn more!
Redefining the Clinical Experience™
Red Oak Recovery® (866) 457-7590
The Willows at Red Oak Recovery® (855) 773-0614
About Red Oak Recovery
Red Oak Recovery® programs are located throughout Western North Carolina and include clinically-driven and gender separate trauma focused mental health and substance abuse treatment for young adult men (www.redoakrecovery.com), young adult women (www.thewillowsatredoak.com), and adolescent males (www.foothillsatredoak.com). Our developmentally specific treatment modalities take into account each client’s unique story, trauma history, gender challenges, substance abuse history, relapse triggers, and mental health issues. Our dually licensed master’s level clinicians integrate research-based practices with complementary modalities to help clients honor themselves, recognize their self-worth, and pursue positive, lasting change.
Caroline came to College Excel after finishing high school, where she struggled to live the balanced life she wished for. Today, she is thriving as she embarks upon her sophomore year of college. She and her College Excel coach, Allison, caught up recently to reflect on her journey before, during and after College Excel.
What brought you to College Excel?
Before I came to College Excel, life was stressful and very unbalanced. School and academics pretty much ruled my life, and I was spending so much time on schoolwork that I was doing barely anything else. As a result of this, I was frequently stressed out and overwhelmed, and overall, just wasn’t happy. I decided to come to College Excel because I wanted to be able to prepare myself in the best way possible to achieve my goal of attending college. I knew that I would benefit from a supportive, structured program like College Excel.
What did you gain from coming to College Excel?
I made a tremendous amount of growth during my time at College Excel, specifically in time management, life balance and self image. I came to realize that school isn’t everything and in fact, taking time to do social and fun activities is just as important for me. I found that I even do better in school when I am routinely doing activities for myself. I started to see myself as the capable, strong individual I am, not as someone who can’t do things and is destined for failure.
My favorite part of the experience was developing relationships with the staff members; they really bend over backwards to make sure each student is given the tools and opportunity to succeed, and work tirelessly to provide whatever support is needed. I always felt that I had people I could talk to about anything, whether it be my academics, social life, or plans and desires for the future.
What are you up to now?
Currently I am a sophomore at a small liberal arts school on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I am majoring in Psychology with a concentration in Clinical/Counseling and double minoring in Hispanic Studies and Public Health. I am on my school’s Western Equestrian Team, and will be serving as the team’s treasurer for the upcoming school year. I am doing incredibly well, enjoying what my life has to offer.
Of course this is not to say that everything is going perfectly every single moment of every single day, but I know that I am well equipped to handle whatever challenges may arise. My experience at College Excel has changed me into the person I am today, and I would not have been able to grow as much as I have without the guidance and support the program provided me.
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.
Prepare to Bloom and Meyer Education and Family Services are proud to announce that they have joined forces. While each entity will continue to operate as a unique and separate therapeutic consulting practice, they describe their new affiliation as a marriage in which they each keep their names while creating a blended family which shares in core values and shared goals.
Inspired by a casual conversation, Prepare to Bloom and Meyer Education and Family Services began to intentionally discuss how much each enjoyed being on a team, working with others, and collaborating - but how they also valued their own autonomy and individuality as small business owners and practitioners.
Do these things have to be mutually exclusive? Is there a way to do both? They concluded there is - and it is accomplished through the way in which Prepare to Bloom and Meyers Education and Family Services has structured the formal affiliation.
Shayna Abraham explained, “We are two companies who will be keeping each of our names, contact information, and unique branding and we are also coming together to provide top-notch services for the families we support. This affiliation allows us the benefits of shared resources, structured collaboration, case reviews, and even client coverage so that we can practice the necessary self-care which is required to do this work always at our best. Additionally, with coverage across two states, and with additional eyes and ears to travel to see clients and visit programs, this affiliation both broadens and deepens the value which we can bring to families and clients - all without having to sacrifice the individuality, autonomy, and capacity for providing creative and custom-designed solutions for families in need."
If you have questions please feel free to contact us at:
Shayna Abraham - Prepare to Bloom - 650-888-4575/ Shayna@PrepareToBloom.com
Kathy Meyer - Meyer Education and Family Services 435-640-8779/ Kathy@meyerefs.com
James Meyer - Meyer Education and Family Services 435-559-1343/ James@meyerefs.com
This August, Elevations RTC, a residential treatment center for teens ages 13-18, held their annual summer parent/sibling seminar at Pineview Reservoir (UT). Elevations RTC believes that rebuilding and repairing family relationships is one of the most important aspects of the healing process. Because of this, parent seminars take place each quarter and are a healing opportunity for families and students. Each summer, Elevations RTC holds a special family seminar by the lake that includes siblings. At this year’s summer seminar, students and their families engaged in fun water-based activities and face to face therapy sessions.
“This year's Parent Seminar at Pineview was a huge success!” commented Jordan Killpack CMHC, Clinical Director of Elevations RTC. “We had a large group of parents and siblings attend. Parents, students and siblings were highly engaged and enjoyed the therapeutic and recreation activities. Families who struggle with mental health challenges often have less than functional family systems. Bringing families and students together in Parent Seminars creates face to face, therapist-supported opportunities to improve understanding of dysfunctional family system components. It pushes families to interact in more realistic ways, and helps them learn more effective ways to interact and problem solve. This allows them to adjust and change their family systems in more functional ways.”
The lakeside setting of the family seminar took family therapy sessions into an experiential place, away from a traditional office-based talk therapy setting.
“Seeing our students interact positively with their siblings, in addition to parents, displayed that we are offering healing opportunities for the entire family,” says Shelby Nielson, MFT Intern. “Where they may have had only chaos in their interactions over the course of, for many of our families, long periods of time, our clinical and recreational teams were able to work together with families to begin to mend some of the hurt and build new positive experiences and memories.”
At Elevations RTC, families are involved throughout the therapeutic process through parent orientations, weekly family therapy sessions, on-campus visits, and parent seminars.
“I feel that the family work is crucial to the treatment process and it's important for parents to be looking within and making the changes they need to at home in order for a successful transition back home,” says Primary Therapist Phyllis Hawks, CMHC. “It's difficult to maintain progress if one returns back to the same environment with the same dynamics.”
For more information about family programming at Elevations RTC, please visit https://www.elevationsrtc.com/clinical/family-support or call 855.290.9681.
About Elevations RTC
Elevations RTC is a residential treatment center that offers guidance, support and relief to adolescents struggling with issues such as 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.
Even though 86% of Sunrise Residential Treatment Center’s students are off campus each week doing various identity building activities - whether it be service learning, working part time, or taking a college course or two, it is still so important to create opportunities for all the girls to get off campus to learn how to strengthen their relationships with themselves, peers, mentors, and therapists.
Every year, Sunrise takes its students to Bryce Canyon National Park for a three day camping trip. The theme of this trip was centered around mindfulness and allowing the girls time to reflect on their own strengths and progress. Each girl received a letter from their family and a few different staff that helped them understand the skills they have learned and the support they have as they continue to learn new skills.
“I’m generally not a big fan of camping,” said a current Sunrise student when asked about the most recent camping trip, “but going to Bryce Canyon was pretty fun. We got to spend a lot of time hanging out with the staff and therapists and we each got a spirit animal assigned to us. That was my favorite part.”
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.
Mutual or peer support is a long-standing, inherent practice in many mental health programs. Connections among clients beyond therapy group meetings often will lead to increased hope, engagement, empathy, social connectivity, better health, and overall functioning.¹ Delivered properly, this “service” compliments the work of the objective professionals and offers clients an insiders’ level of understanding and collegiality that can have a profound impact.²
“I remember saying it all the time when I worked in wilderness, that clients would have two groups during their stay with us. The group that cared for them in the beginning, and then the group that they cared for prior to transitioning on,” recalls Onward Transitions Chief Clinician Darrell Fraize, M.Ed., LCPC, LADC. “I’ve seen this happen in residential treatment as well, where the more seasoned members take it upon themselves to help out the folks who are new,” he adds. Onward Transitions experienced a cohort of six new members last spring who benefited from this process, and are now ready to take their turn and pay it forward, as new members move to Portland, ME and join the program.
During a recent group counseling session about transitions, members recalled the challenges they experienced early on and how their peers helped them to better adjust to their new, adopted city. They reported both a readiness and a desire to help other emerging adults adjust to the complexities of settling into their new space and moving forward with their goals. Current members recalled how staff and peers alike helped them work through some of the following challenges;
- Going from a more structured environment like primary care to managing their own schedule. Or, in contrast, going beyond college or outpatient counseling and entering into a therapeutic community for the first time.
- Putting the “heavy lifting” of therapy into practice in live, real-world scenarios.
- Engaging in a more active and robust face-to-face social life.
- Learning to manage the challenges of becoming a student again.
- Coping with the stress of applying for and maintaining a job.
- Relying less on communicating with parents in their everyday decision-making.
- Taking on a more developmentally-appropriate role in budgeting for their lives and paying the bills they create.
- Normalizing the “buyer’s remorse” effect of making the big decision to move and to invest time and resources in this next step.
- Exhibiting patience with adult-world processes, like setting up a primary care physician and waiting for WiFi and cable technicians.
“Paying it forward,” Fraize chuckles. “It’s not just for the helping professionals in our world. Our clients way more often than not want to find a way to give back, and this is one way that they are truly well-equipped to do it.”
¹BRSS TACS, (2012) Equipping Behavioral Health Systems & Authorities to Promote Peer Specialist/Peer Recovery Coaching Services, SAMHSA Bringing Recovery Supports to Scale. https://www.nasmhpd.org/sites/default/files/NASMHPD%20Housing_Final%20Submission.pdf
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.
Auldern Academy kicked off the new school year with its annual beloved tradition of a fun-filled week at the Keyauwee Program Center (KPC) focused on team-building and personal development. The students participated in a variety of activities that created lasting memories – from fishing in the lake, to conquering the alpine tower, scoring bullseyes at the archery range, to crafting and paddleboarding.
The weather was perfect and everyone was excited to get on the water. One student really enjoyed her time paddleboarding and said, “The water was very calm and I could balance easily, which made it fun, but not too challenging.” At the archery range, camp counselors ensured all participants were safe and followed appropriate protocols. Another student shared a highlight: “Hitting the bullseye and feeling like, ‘you can’t touch this!’”
Students also got the opportunity to zip line at Carolina Zip Line Canopy Tours (in nearby Westfield, NC) and enjoy the high ropes course at the SKYWILD Greensboro Science Center. Students who zip lined enjoyed a newly designed course of 11 separate “zips” through beautiful terrain that included an aerial bridge. Executive Director Angie Fusco, who joined in on the fun, said, “The new course was awesome and the students had a blast. This activity is always a highlight of this experiential trip!” Those who did not zip line were able to enjoy the high ropes course that featured multiple courses with three levels of proficiency. Students completed multiple courses and enjoyed the experience immensely.
Another day was dedicated to “giving back,” as each group engaged in service projects throughout the camp that included cleaning paddleboards, rigging fishing poles and clearing brush around the climbing wall. Afterwards, groups worked on team building activities that involved crafts and games, or climbed the alpine tower. One activity involved marshmallows and linguine noodles to see which group could construct the highest “tower”. Those accepting the Alpine tower challenge had fun both climbing and supporting others in their group as they attempted the climb. Lead Teacher Chris Will was thrilled to see the incredible level of participation, “Everyone in the group I was with attempted to climb the Alpine tower, which was great to see. Experiential week is all about students pushing themselves and discovering new strengths from within.”
Whether it was comparing tie-dye shirts, bragging over the number of fish they caught, or what level they accomplished at SKYWILD, everyone agreed that they fostered great new relationships, had opportunities to try new things, pushed themselves beyond their limits, and had an amazing time. This year’s KPC experience was incredible and set the tone for another outstanding year at Auldern.
About Auldern Academy
Auldern Academy is a college preparatory, therapeutic boarding school for young women ages 14 to 18. We provide a positive platform that helps transform the lives of young women academically, emotionally, and socially.
Trails Carolina has undergone a rigorous renewal process and their academic accreditation with AdvancEd has been extended for another five years.
Trails Carolina, an East Coast based wilderness therapy program for students ages 10-17, is the only wilderness program in the country where students take part in academic programming in a traditional classroom setting while working with a certified teacher. “The classroom is where many of our students struggle socially, behaviorally and due to learning differences. Creating an academic experience closer to what students receive in the ‘real world’ enables our students to be better prepared to transition successfully back to their home school,” explained Director of Admissions and Outreach Julia Andrick.
While at Trails, students who are in high school can earn three credits and middle schoolers earn almost a full half year of credit. Students graduate from Trails Carolina with a transferable academic transcript.
“Academics is often an area where students struggle and where progress can be made,” says Elizabeth Chancellor, Academic Director of Trails Carolina. “Our goal is to renew students’ confidence in their ability to learn and prepare them to re-enter their ‘real world’ school classroom as functional and critical learners.”
Learn more about Trails Carolina’s academic programming by visiting https://trailscarolina.com/why-trails/academics/ or by calling our admissions team toll-free at 800-975-7303.
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 800-975-7303.
Academic and classroom difficulties are often the number one reason parents seek help for their teen at Seven Stars, a residential treatment center for teens (ages 13-17) who struggle with Autism and learning disorders.
Although Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder rather than a learning disorder, teens on the Autism Spectrum have a high incidence of learning differences. Attention, executive function, cognitive, sensory, graphomotor and processing difficulties can interfere significantly with academic achievement. Additionally, social anxiety can make a traditional classroom environment feel overwhelming.
Therapeutic classrooms are designed for students who benefit from additional support with emotion regulation and problem-solving as well as academic help. They remove some of the distractions of a traditional school environment by offering smaller class sizes and experiential learning opportunities.
No one can learn new academic concepts if they are stressed, afraid or dysregulated. “Our goal in a therapeutic classroom is to get to the root of the issues,” explains Dr. Gordon Day, Founder of Seven Stars and Executive Clinical Director. “It is important to meet each child where they are in their struggle and help them find their individual motivation for academic engagement.” Practicing coping skills, managing fears, asking for help, advocating for breaks and managing distractions are keys to classroom success.
According to Dr. Day, “our academic curriculum is designed to meet the needs of a wide variety of students. We provide each student with self-paced academic packets that are at their grade level to help them stay on track academically or catch up on credits. Comprehension of the material is checked through online assessments.”
In addition to core curriculum, students also have the opportunity to earn experiential credits in health and fitness, critical thinking and art.
The clinical team works closely with parents and referring professionals to figure out the best academic environment for each student’s continued success.
For more information about academic programming at Seven Stars, please contact us at 801-773-0200.
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 call 844-601-1167.
Natural Lifesmanship was established in 1986 as a method of helping professionals understand how trauma impacts relationship building and how utilizing the principles of Natural Lifesmanship with horses can help humans build healthier patterns of behavior in all relationships. Keith Bishop, Chief Operating Officer at Q&A Associates, has spent the past few years mastering these principles and implementing this approach in the equine program.
On the continuum of experiences that shape us, trauma in relationships exists on one end and nurturing caregiving exists on the other. The young adult clients of Q&A Associates Family of Programs have all experienced trauma to some degree in their lives. Most of them have great difficulty creating and sustaining positive relationships due to these traumas. They do not know how to create healthy boundaries or recognize true give-and-take with another person, be it a friend, romantic connection, teacher, boss, coach, sibling, or parent. Many of these young adults have been in dangerous relationship situations due to this lack of understanding. These unhealthy patterns of behavior have developed, for the most part, in the subconscious and have become automatic. Recognizing these patterns is difficult; changing them is impossible without lots of hard work and desire on the part of the client. So, how do these young adults develop healthier ways of living and relating?
At Q&A, the principles of Natural Lifesmanship are integrated into the equine program, allowing clients opportunities to move forward in three ways. First, the clients are able to identify unhealthy relationship patterns by experiencing the response of the horses. Second, they are able to adjust their patterns of behavior through coaching and guidance of staff. Third, they begin to develop healthier relationships with the horses and experience the nurturing, connectedness they seek. Most importantly, these concepts transfer into all relationships, which allows the clients to develop healthier, more appropriate relational behavioral patterns at the subconscious level. They develop better relationship habits.
“The horse has choice in its relationship with a person;” said Bishop, “and that is no different than each of us as humans; we all have choice in every relationship in our lives.” As he works with each client, Bishop witnesses how the horse chooses to engage. For the young adult who is living with deep fear of relationship due to past trauma, the horse will not engage until the young adult opens his or her heart on an authentic level. “Gaining connection with the horse can take five minutes or three days,” said Bishop. Clients gain connection with the horse by asking for it, which involves working with the horse on all levels from grooming to ground work to riding. The client is establishing a nurturing relationship by providing care for the horse. When connection is gained, the horse begins to show nurturing care for the client. “This is a very emotional process,” said Angie Shockley, Founder and CEO, “I have seen many clients reduced to tears – tears of frustration and then tears of gratitude and amazement when that connection is made.”
The Natural Lifesmanship process involves becoming aware of the ways the human brain develops to accommodate the experiences of toxic stress and trauma when survival becomes the focus and relationships are seen as unsafe or unpredictable. The clients of Q&A are all demonstrating behaviors of survival such as freezing in their growth, escaping from the trauma through running away, disappearing into technology, using or abusing substances, or seeking unhealthy connections on the physical level. Utilizing horses and the Natural Lifesmanship principles helps the clients create relationships that heal and transform. These connected and attuned relationships lead to sustained natural development.
About Q&A Family of Programs
Q&A Family of Programs works with young adults ages 18 and up, providing opportunities for each of them to develop independent, functional, and happy lives with a high level of quality. Our clients have struggled to reach independence for a variety of reasons such as the inability to develop and/or implement the life skills needed to be successful, or struggling to obtain consistent employment. Our goal is to help these individuals find meaning and an authentic purpose for their lives and a practical path to achieve their goals.
TechieForLife (TFL) a co-ed vocational school with wrap-around career support is taking a new approach to driver's education. As a result, students who might not have otherwise are now getting their driver's licenses and achieving the independence they desire. TechieForLife has found a fun and and safe solution using desert trails just outside of St. George, Utah. TFL students go out on a side-by-side, a 6-person, four wheel drive off-road vehicle. Students take turns driving. Mentor at TFL Eric Sprunt said, "It would be so scary if I had to take some of our students out on regular busy roads. The only way some of them will try driving is out on these trails."
Many neurodiverse young adults, like those with Autism Spectrum Disorder, struggle with getting a driver's license. They often experience heightened anxiety when they get behind a wheel. Typical approaches do not do enough to address this issue. Not only do they need more practice and repetition, but also ways to build their confidence. Now this milestone is achievable.
Then when a student is ready, TFL sends them to Tracy Newby, owner/instructor at TNTdriveschool.com. Tracy says, "The side-by-side is a great way to start practicing driving. The more you practice the better you drive." She commented about one of TFL's students who previously expressed resistance to driving; recently, he completed her program. "He really wanted to drive. His confidence showed and he really stuck with it."
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.
At Trails Momentum, a co-ed adventure based therapeutic program for young adults ages 18-25, students took part in mountain biking throughout the summer. Over the past two years, the mountain biking program at Trails Momentum has grown significantly. Sycamore Cycles of Pisgah Forest, NC has partnered with Trails Momentum to provide quality bikes and timely service for mountain biking on campus. Both program staff and field instructors have participated as guides for students.
“Mountain biking gives students the opportunity to challenge themselves physically and mentally,” says Sarah Parlier, PhD, Director of Student Development. “While some overcome risk aversion behaviors and feelings of anxiety around physical risk, others develop their communication skills and abilities to work collaboratively.”
In mountain biking, there is almost always both a notable success and an obstacle for next time. “One student may celebrate a physical accomplishment of riding up a climb without stopping but may finish the ride feeling challenged by their unrealistic expectations around others’ behaviors,” says Parlier. “Another student might develop a personal relationship with a peer during the ride but may struggle with confidence when riding over roots.”
Recently, three students challenged themselves with longer rides, ranging from 13-23 miles. For those who fully engage in this activity, it has proven to be a critical component of their health and wellness. Some graduates have reported continuing regular rides post-graduation and a new commitment to this challenging sport.
Students at Trails Momentum develop their biking skills gradually as they advance in the program. Here’s a breakdown of the mountain biking program at Trails Momentum:
- Initially, students are introduced to mountain biking and the protocols for riding.
- Then, students learn about the bikes and the program’s expectations, they participate in a short, one mile ride on the property. When they’re ready for the next challenge, students leave campus for a longer ride on local gravel roads.
- After demonstrating their abilities to follow protocols, communicate their needs, and handle the bike when climbing and descending, students embark on double track trails in DuPont State Forest. Each ride is accompanied with instructor feedback and a short processing group.
- Students who advance through these initial stages are then invited to participate in singletrack rides at Dupont. With their staff and instructors, students plan the ride and work as a team to accomplish their personal and group goals.
While mountain biking is a “challenge by choice” activity, all students are invited to participate and complete the level one introduction training component.
"One of the takeaways I have is an appreciation for new activities,” says a Trails Momentum student. “When I got here, I did not know how to ride a bike, and hated camping. I now love biking, and plan to thru hike the PCT”
Learn more about adventure programming at Trails Momentum by visiting https://trailsmomentum.com/experience/ or by calling (877) 296-8711.
About Trails Momentum
Trails Momentum is an outdoor adventure-based therapy program for young adults ages 18-25 struggling to launch themselves into adulthood. Young adults 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.
Solstice West, a residential treatment center outside of Salt Lake City, continues to be a leader in trauma-focused programming by offering Brainspotting, a therapeutic technique that helps individuals access, process and heal from trauma. Brainspotting connects with the deep brain and allows the team at Solstice West RTC to help students neurobiologically identify, process and work through past traumas. The modality helps students overcome issues that are typically out of conscious reach.
During a brainspotting session, therapists help students move their eyes in ways that enable them to target places of negative emotion. With the help of a pointer, therapists slowly guide the eyes of students across their field of vision to find specific “brainspots”, or eye placements, that activate a traumatic memory or painful emotions. Brainspotting allows therapists to access emotions on a deeper, more impactful level and target physical effects of trauma.
Solstice hosted a three-day training seminar in August for their clinical team to further their understanding and expertise in this technique. “Since the very beginning of our program, the primary focus for Solstice West has been helping girls heal from trauma,” says Julie Sheppard, Director of Business Development at Solstice West. “It was a natural extension in the development of our program to complement our EMDR work with Brainspotting.”
Brain-based therapeutic models like Brainspotting are one of the most sought-after therapy treatments available today. The seminar this August was facilitated by Cynthia Schwartzberg, President of the Southeast Brainspotting Institute, who has over 30 years of therapeutic experience.
“We are really excited to have our entire clinical team trained in Brainspotting,” says Kami Black, MSW, LCSW, Executive Clinical Director at Solstice West. “This is a relatively new and innovative technique that all of our therapists can add to their toolbox to help students work through their trauma.”
Learn more about therapeutic programming at Solstice West RTC by visiting https://solsticertc.com/ or by calling 866-278-3345.
About Solstice West RTC
Solstice West RTC is a residential treatment center in Utah that helps girls ages 14-18 who struggle with issues such as anxiety, depression, trauma, and relationship struggles. In additional to traditional therapy and adventure activities, their accredited academic program emphasizes creative expression and experiential learning. Solstice RTC is dedicated to teaching young women how to incorporate healthy habits into their lives and develop healthy relationships.
Call 866-278-3345 for more information about Solstice RTC or visit https://solsticertc.com.
Navigating conversations with professors and classmates can be daunting, especially if you’ve had challenges on a college campus or are a freshman. EDGE understands that asking for help or advice can be worrisome. You may be thinking, “what if I blank out and don’t know what to ask for,” or “ what if my professor thinks I am not capable?” Sometimes this leads to not asking at all and avoiding these challenges. Self doubt and insecurities are completely valid to have during these times. This may impede your efforts in the social arena too. It is “O.K.”
EDGE reports they see this with all of their students and have supportive coaches to help students succeed in these areas.
EDGE's learning coordinator, Anne Walchak, works individually with students to create and support their academic goals. Philosophically, the approach at EDGE is a “do with,” not “do for.” During these sessions each student has an opportunity to role play, to create a script, to plan a visit to their campus with EDGE support. As a collegiate community, EDGE loves to include students who may also attend the same college and plan for a group outing. These orientation details are critical and so they place a high value on connectedness in order to set up students for success through preparedness. EDE students become a great resource to one another, while also benefiting from coaching support at EDGE.
Here are some additional tips from their learning coordinator:
- Create a plan of action - so speaking with professors or other college supports becomes more manageable. Create a roadmap or a “script” and practice these conversations so, it will be more comfortable, when you meet in person.
- Keep the focus on skill-building, not on grades. Foundational work will help in all dimensions of students' lives.
- Begin to build a support network. You are not alone in this journey and having strong peers, therapeutic, and academic support are critical during this transition.
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.
Over the past 8 plus years, EDGE Learning and Wellness Collegiate Community in Chicago has provided support to hundreds of young adults in making the successful transition toward independence. With the understanding that no two paths are the same and that every person has a unique background and personality, EDGE is proud to announce the launch of a new program designed to support a wider array of young adults called EDGE Advance. EDGE Advance, commits to assisting neurodiverse individuals toward successful independence by providing a supportive environment with a consistent and balanced focus in education and life skills.
Young adults enrolled at EDGE Advance work with a team of experts to develop an individualized plan for success in academic or vocational pursuits, while continuing to expand competencies in other important areas of wellness. With an approach grounded in research, EDGE Advance students benefit from specific programming designed to build skills in executive functioning, socialization, and other important areas, in addressing learning disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), ADHD, anxiety, depression and other associated mental health needs.
But for their students, the key to success is more than just building skills. EDGE's unique location in the heart of Chicago gives students the opportunity to engage in real world experiences while residing in their supportive environment. Instead of simply learning these skills, EDGE students are challenged to put them into practice as they attend college, volunteer, work, and engage in a variety of fitness and recreational activities.
EDGE is privileged to have Jack Flight, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, leading this program as its Director. With more than 20 years of experience, Jack possesses a wealth of knowledge and experience in working with neurodiverse individuals. Don’t miss your opportunity to meet Jack on September 12th at Midwest NATSAP, where he will be giving a presentation entitled Intentional Diversity: Embracing a City Experience.
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!
In an effort to bring unique academic and experiential learning opportunities to students, Montana Academy has been on a multi-year journey to develop and implement new courses and curricula based on the tenets of collaboration and integration. This began as the creation of multi-disciplinary "interim" classes on its campus; three-week intensive classes that are day-long, team-taught and project-based.
Last year, to create a similar academic approach at Sky House (the Montana Academy transition program), Montana Academy implemented its own multi-disciplinary summer school curriculum that incorporated the study of local watersheds, Montana history, field drawing and literature. The coursework culminated with a week-long canoeing expedition down Montana's Missouri River to bring this content to life.
This year, Montana Academy pushed the envelope even further by including in the content Spanish language and grammar and community service, and our capstone experience was the school's first international trip to Costa Rica. To successfully pull this off, staff from Montana Academy collaborated with colleagues from New Summit Academy to develop a 10-day experience that included equal elements of cultural and linguistic immersion, educational experiences related to ecology and sustainable agriculture and the fun of exploring a new country. Six students from Sky House had the opportunity to participate in activities ranging from salsa dancing to exploring a coffee farm, from surfing to volunteering in a soup kitchen.
There is intentionality behind the drive to integrate social, emotional, and academic growth with new and collaborative experiential opportunities for Montana Academy's students. Montana Academy places significant emphasis on community as the academy believes that by living and learning with others, students are able to discover their truest and best selves. Life does not exist in neat, compartmentalized categories, so by breaking down these barriers, students have more opportunities to push themselves to learn and grow.
Montana Academy looks forward to continuing to expand opportunities for its students and Costa Rica was a great place to visit.
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 provides students a robust combination of clincal 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, (pills or brief therapies), Montana Academy pursues a two-step diagnosis and dual treatment: (a) to identify and remove, in so far as possible, the obstacles to psychological development; and (b) to prod student to achieve new psychological milestones and so to restore the momentum of normal adolescent maturity.
As Pure Life Adventure enters it sixth year of operation in Costa Rica, it has earned accreditation by the Association for Experiential Education (AEE). This exciting news culminated in a three day visit onsite in Costa Rica. The entire accrediation process took over a year and included a step by step review of every activity, procedure or every action that occurs at Pure Life like surfing to food preparation to ensure goals, safety and process. The entire Pure Life team was part of this accrediation process and put a lot of effort into this impressive achievement. Accrediation means Pure Life meets AEE's 'commitment to quality and safety, belief in professional standards, and allocation of resources toward continued excellence and improvement.'
As Pure Life Adventure enters its sixth year of operation in Costa Rica as an Adventure Therapy Program, Andrew Taylor, MBA Executive Director, shares, "What was exciting for me was to see how impressed the reviewers were with each department and the strong team we have at Pure Life. We could tell that the reviewers were really enjoying their stay and felt the energy of the program and the beautiful country of Costa Rica." By going through the accreditation process, the Pure Life Team was able to review every activity and assure that every thing they do tracks back to the mission and is compliant with the highest level of instruction and safety. AEE's certification assures Pure Life program participants, completing their therapeutic process in Costa Rica, receive the same exemplary services attained by the few programs in the states that have also acheived accreditation.
By the end of this process, the team at Pure Life is sure that they are offering a unique and impactful service to their young adult clients. Each young adult client is receiving the highest level of care as they work toward overcoming the barriers that are holding them back from a successful adulthood. The team at Pure Life is looking forward to building upon this success and the strong foundation that it has formed to grow the program in 2020 to offer more services to young people who are struggling to launch.
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.
Neal Christensen, PhD, joined forces with Dr. Jonathan Hoffman of the Neurobehavioral Institute (NBI) to demystify diagnosis and treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in a wilderness therapy setting. Neal and Jon used the platform of the 2019 Wilderness Therapy Symposium to engage the clinicians, field staff, and other treatment practitioners in attendance about some of the myths and misperceptions surrounding a disorder that many have believed to be contraindicated to treatment in the outdoors.
“I believe that OCD is misunderstood and very likely underdiagnosed among our population,” said Dr. Christensen, co-owner and Clinical Director at Elements Wilderness Program. “What’s fascinating about OCD is that once you understand what you’re seeing, you can truly dive in and start working with your client to address a debilitating condition. The foundational elements of wilderness living, paired with Elements curriculum dovetails very well to treat OCD. At its most basic form, Jon and I are both asking our clients to face their anxiety of uncertainty to increase their capacity to deal with their identified stressors. This is done by approaching and confronting their obsessions while working through what lies underneath these obsessions.”
Neal has always advocated for more robust training and involvement of direct care staff, presenting at past Wilderness Symposia on various subjects, such as working with neuro-atypical clients in programming designed for neurotypical clients. Neal and his business partner Lynn Smith have made a defining feature of Elements Wilderness Program the depth of training for direct care staff in subjects ranging from substance abuse counseling and motivational interviewing (MI) to Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills development. Neal and the entire Elements Clinical team are forerunners in the involvement of Elements’ direct care staff into truly individualized treatment for OCD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Substance Use Disorder, and other presenting conditions.
Since 2008, Elements Wilderness has been providing a specialized therapeutic intervention for adolescent boys aged 13-17. We at Elements envision a world in which everyone has the skills and support necessary to live a full and healthy life. Through innovative therapeutic and psychiatric intervention, a comprehensive outdoor living experience complete with expeditionary backpacking and adventure programming, a robust family program involving the family at every step, and evidence-based substance abuse treatment, we strive to provide our clients with intervention, treatment, and assessment. www.elementswilderness.com
As they approach the one year mark since its inception in Fall 2018, Emerald Arrow: A Bold Path for Young Adults experiences continued success and development. With this comes evolution and expansion as it continues on its own “bold path”.
One exciting addition is the role of the Bridge Field Instructor, which supports a deeper level of clinical and field integration to carry out the vision of Emerald Arrow. Haley Carpenter, a Mentor Instructor at Emerald Arrow, recently accepted this position and serves as the primary field support to the Therapist and bridges consistency and program culture between field teams and various departments within the organization. Haley will train field instructors and oversee all aspects of staff development to deliver treatment and ancillary services. Haley's role includes assisting field teams by using creative interventions, teaching group processing skills, driving teamwork, and managing program policies and practices. Haley also plays a prime role in graduation ceremonies and she supports family members when they visit the field.
Anne Wilzbacher, LPC Primary Therapist for Emerald Arrow describes, “Part of the vision from the beginning was to support building a foundation for sustainable health and vital living, and the Bridge position helps narrow in on our programming and training with field instructors to provide consistent, creative, and clinically informed work each week. It will help fuel the field instructors’ skill sets and will empower them to step into their own creativity while keeping the vision alive. I am so honored to have Haley step into this role, as she was one of the original field instructors to help launch Emerald Arrow from the beginning.”
Haley is a gifted artist and dancer and she teaches and facilitates Creative Exposure and Expression through Emerald Arrow’s intensives. Some of her teachings include painting, felting, quilting, wood working, weaving and dance. Haley has been with the company for over three years, and with Emerald Arrow since it opened. Haley shares, “Moving into the Bridge position seemed to be a natural next step. I was excited to help develop Emerald Arrow and the vision intended for the program from the beginning”.
Emerald Arrow is a Bold Path for young adults to thoughtfully and safely “root” into who they are and what they have to offer to themselves and others. Program elements (listed below) are interwoven throughout a young adult’s time with Emerald Arrow to give them the opportunity to understand more clearly what they are capable of.
- 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 Weekly Intensives
- Thoughtful Transition Preparation
These program elements are set up to bring about more authentic connections, deeper consciousness, stronger responsibility, and devoted gratitude. Young adults experience the revealing effects of nature, in-depth clinical insight and intervention, integrated with creativity and purpose-driven experiences all setting a strong foundation for them to move forward in their lives.
Evoke Therapy Programs is excited to welcome Kaysha Alesa Sorensen as an addition to the Admissions and Outreach team. Kaysha has a Bachelors in Psychology, with a minor in Family Studies from Southern Utah University. Over the past several years, her focus has been working with adolescents and their parents in different capacities. Before working in Family Choices Behaviorial Healthcare industry, she worked in the field of prevention, specifically on ways to prevent substance abuse and suicide in adolescents.
In 2017, Kaysha joined the Admissions and Outreach world and found she has an absolute passion for it. She loves working closely with families through the process of admission and is dedicated to providing a safe, patient, and compassionate ear. She knows that the wilderness provides a sanctuary for healing, growing, and believes strongly in the work. She feels especially grateful to have joined the Evoke team and looks forward to growing and learning in her new role.
Kaysha currently lives in Southern Utah. She is married and has five kids. As a family, they find joy in being outside. They love to travel, especially to NYC. They also love music, concerts, and finding the best taco stands to enjoy. In Kaysha's spare time, she can be found engaging in one of her other passions, Humanitarian Work. She also enjoys reading, watching comedy, learning, Harley rides, and friendships. Kaysha can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 801.318.7278.
About Evoke Therapy Programs
Evoke Therapy Programs 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, families, and mental health professionals that are looking to create dynamic changes in their life or to simply find the balance they are seeking.
SUWS is excited to announce that Jenny Stulck, LPC, will be joining the Seasons team full-time. Jenny has been a seasonal therapist with SUWS for several years and brings a full backpack of experiences that make her a great addition to the team. Jenny started in the wilderness field in 2005 as a field guide. Around that same time, she also taught middle school Spanish and directed middle school plays. Jenny continued working in the field and decided to pursue a clinical license. Over the years, Jenny came to truly enjoy the insightfulness and playfulness of middle schoolers.
At SUWS, she takes full advantage of the Seasons students’ strengths by incorporating her knowledge of theatre, games, music and different cultures. Jenny describes her style as playful, but firm – often dancing that edge. Like any skilled wilderness therapist, she uses experiential activities to engage with clients in a way that doesn’t typically happen in an office setting. One of her favorite activities is incorporating a tea ceremony into her session with a student. Like the traditional Japanese ceremony, the emphasis is on carefully preparing and tasting the tea. There are steps to follow in the process, providing a perfect opportunity to fully engage with your senses as you drink the tea.
Jenny finds that when she’s engaging a student in a performance or ceremony, they are using focus, mindfulness, and feelings statements – often not realizing the therapeutic elements of the experience until they have an “aha moment.” For Jenny, it’s enjoyable to weave these creative approaches with traditional use of CBT, Choice Theory, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to create a powerful treatment experience.
The remainder of the Seasons team includes Liz Lucarelli, primary therapist for Seasons and Colin Walsh, support specialist for the Seasons groups. Erica Thiessen, Clinical Director, supports the Seasons program by offering family therapy calls throughout their child’s stay. Together they harness their vast experiences to offer top-notch clinical services for kids age 10-13 and their families.
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 outside of Asheville, SUWS delivers wilderness based therapeutic interventions for 10-17 year old boys and girls with compassion and excellence.
Evoke Therapy is excited to announce Jesse Eriksen as the new Operations Director for the Entrada branch. Jesse found his love and passion for the healing of the outdoors while getting his Bachelor’s degree from Eastern Kentucky University. While doing his studies, he started teaching in the outdoors for Adventure Programs. He found that the impact the outdoors can have on people’s journey through life was something that he would continue to put energy and time into.
After graduation, Jesse made his way out west for bigger mountains and the opportunity to continue using the outdoors to help people. Jesse brings 10 years of experience working at Entrada to the position. He started his journey with Evoke in March of 2009 working as a Field Instructor and eventually becoming a Senior Field Instructor. After that position, he moved to the Operations Department where he continued to help support staff, clients, and the growth of the company itself.
Jesse spends most of his free time still interacting with the outdoors. His avid love for all things climbing has taken him all over the world and western United States. Jesse finds rejuvenation and focus while moving in the mountains and on the rock. This continued interaction with the natural world helps in his own personal journey and brings that energy back into the work they do at Evoke.
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, families and mental health professionals that are looking to create dynamic changes in their life or to simply find the balance they are seeking.
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.
This summer, Elements Traverse, a young adult wilderness therapy program in central Utah, partnered with the Ferron-Price Ranger District’s office scouting and maintaining trails in the Manti-La Sal National Forest. Elements Traverse staff performed light trail maintenance such as trimming bushes and trees, as well as removing logs and branches from pathways. Additionally, Elements Traverse sent the Ranger’s office reports of general trail and road conditions.
With limited staff resources, the Ferron-Price Ranger District’s office does not have the capacity to survey most of the trails and roads in the forest. Elements Traverse’s efforts helped the rangers stay apprised of conditions in more remote areas of the district. It also allowed Elements Traverse to explore a new part of the forest which was exciting for staff and clients alike.
Elements Traverse values its partnerships with public land management agencies and actively seeks ways to strengthen those relationships. The program operates on lands managed by the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the state of Utah. These lands have many stakeholders from ranchers to mining companies to the general public. The wilderness experience that Elements Traverse provides to clients is intrinsically connected to the stewardship of these public lands. “Everyone has to work together,” said Elements Traverse Executive Director, Janine Donald. “We look forward to finding more ways to assist our local rangers and land managers in taking care of this land that we love so much.”
Elements Traverse is a young adult wilderness therapy program based in central Utah. The clients spend nine weeks backpacking in the San Rafael Swell past petroglyphs and dinosaur fossils. We offer gender-inclusive groups where clients, regardless of gender identity, work on treatment goals together. Clients learn Dialectical Behavioral Therapy skills to help them navigate life's inevitable ups and downs. They also gain a deep understanding of their substance use through the evidence-based 7 Challenges curriculum. Furthermore, clients discover what they are truly capable of through guided adventure activities such as rock climbing, rappelling, stand up paddle boarding, fly fishing and more. As a small owner-operated treatment program that allows all clients to be known, and their families have access to us at every level.
About Elements Traverse
Elements Traverse is a young adult wilderness therapy program based in central Utah. Our clients spend nine weeks backpacking in the San Rafael Swell past petroglyphs and dinosaur fossils. We offer gender-inclusive groups where clients, regardless of gender identity, work on treatment goals together. Clients learn Dialectical Behavioral Therapy skills to help them navigate life's inevitable ups and downs. They also gain a deep understanding of their substance use through the evidence-based 7 Challenges curriculum. Furthermore, clients discover what they are truly capable of through guided adventure activities such as rock climbing, rappelling, stand up paddle boarding, fly fishing and more. As a small owner-operated program, we know each one of our clients well, and their families have access to us at every level. For more information, visit www.elementstraverse.com
Red Mountain Sedona, a mindfulness-based, transitional living program for young adults, is committed to being an inclusive and affirming program for all individuals. In keeping with this mission, Red Mountain asked Beck Gee Cohen MA, LADC, Founder of BGC Consulting and Director of LGBTQI+ Programing at Vision Adolescent Treatment Centers (CA), to provide trainings for staff on Wednesday, August 28th.
Beck is a clinician, an educator and an advocate for the LGBTQI+ community, and an engaging and highly sought-after national and international speaker. His interactive and informative trainings provide attendees with a safe and welcoming environment to learn and to ask questions and explore perceptions. A Los Angeles native and current resident, Beck’s humor, humility and approachability help him to facilitate difficult but necessary conversations with his training participants.
Tara Klymenko, Red Mountain’s yoga teacher and registrar, echoed this sentiment. “Beck has a way of explaining complex social issues in a concise and friendly way. I really gained some insight into myself and others.”
During his time in Sedona, Beck provided two trainings at Red Mountain, an advanced training for the clinical team and a core competencies training for all Red Mountain staff. “The training today was amazing. I took 7 pages of notes,” Red Mountain therapist, Bodhi Poole, MA, LCMHC, NCC, said. “Beck was amazing and will be a great resource as we look to better serve our community.” he went on to say.
Red Mountain is a gender-inclusive program and has served many students from the LGBTQI+ community over the five years that it has been in operation. At the same time, Red Mountain strives to stay current with the ever-changing landscape of language, cultural considerations and best practices.
Having Beck out to facilitate this training was a necessary part of Red Mountain’s on-going educational process. Clinical Director, Tim Mullins, LMHC, LCPC attended the trainings and was appreciative of the information that was provided. “Beck dispels incorrect assumptions about nonbinary populations while explaining the nuances of working with people who have gender and/or sexual identity differences,” Tim said. “This was an important and timely training.”
About Red Mountain Sedona
Red Mountain Sedona is a mindfulness-based, trauma-informed young adult “Launch” program, located in beautiful Sedona, Arizona. Red Mountain specializes in helping young adults between the ages of 18-28, address the social, emotional and behavioral issues holding them back from successfully transitioning into adulthood. Through a truly holistic program that provides structure, individual, group and family therapy, life skills training, recovery support and mindfulness-meditation, yoga and martial arts instruction, Red Mountain Sedona helps students gain the stability and maturity needed to move forward in life. For more information on Red Mountain Sedona call (855) 998-5272.
Chamberlain International School held their 42nd Graduation Ceremony in Middleboro this past month and was honored to have Sean Rose as the Commencement Speaker. Sean spent time early in his career as a member of the Chamberlain community and has stayed in close contact with the team at the school over the years.
“Being back here at Chamberlain is bittersweet. Some of the fondest memories I’ve had in my career started here on this very campus.” Sean told the audience gathered under the tent. “From Prospect Street to Germany!” he said, referencing the Europe trip he took students on in 2004. Since that time, according to Sean's bio, he has held various leadership roles in the public and non-profit sectors, and has successfully partnered with state and local government to advocate for and serve youth with complex trauma, mental health and behavioral health issues. Most recently Sean was elected to the City Council of Worcester, the second largest city in New England, where he serves on a number of boards and committees.
Speaking directly to the graduating students, Sean stated “In addition to your academic success, you all have also graduated in the art of resiliency at the same time. You may have not noticed that this is what you were being taught but time will tell. Chamberlain is an institution that fosters and instills important core values like team work, kindness, shared responsibility, and hard work.” He encouraged students to take authorship of their own stories as they move on to the next stages of their lives.
Students in the graduating class will be moving on to various colleges while others move on to programs to further pursue additional vocational training. One graduate has utilized his diploma to gain entry into the Armed Forces and enlisted in the Army.
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.
Managing college enrollment, returning after an absence, handling the paperwork of ADA or disability services or even your budget and time — this can be challenging for many. Pacia Life’s College Preservation Coaches (CPC) are the answer for young adults seeking better results.
“I was able to choose my coaching package when I returned to college, and from FaceTime case management to tele-therapy, it made a smooth ride for me to focus on my classes and not miss my therapy — my grades are better and I’m not so anxious,” says a former CPC client.
Pacia Life CPCs offer the concierge; targeted service of adding tutorials, time management, assignment production and evaluation, managing communication with college, medical or mental health care providers, and supporting decisions to take a lighter load or apply for a leave of absence process. The evidence is in — good decisions get you back on track, bad ones make the road longer. Personal health and mental health are essential for good college performance whether part time or full time.
College Preservation Coaches are ideal personal coaches who are college savvy, career savvy, and know how to get through the process of application for extended time, for accommodations of mental health needs, for absence, for deferral, and for all the advocacy you need to get the education you want.
Alan Houghtaling, founder and director of Evolve, an award-winning Boston based company that offers tutoring, college admissions consulting, and teen/young adult life coaching, brings two decades of experience to his role as Academic Director of all Pacia Life locations.
Alan says, "If you're in college and struggling, we can help salvage your semester. If you had to leave school because of poor grades, emotional struggles, or physical challenges, we can help you re-enter college and succeed this time. And if you are considering college for the first time, we can help find the school that is the perfect fit for YOU. We meet you where you're at and from there, co-create and educational blueprint that is in line with your goals, interests, and passions."
About Pacia Life
Pacia Life was founded in 2013 with the intention and passion to fill a gaping void in the clinical needs, the transition from therapeutic programs to real life, education, life skills, grit, resiliency and personal needs for emerging young adults. Today, Pacia Life has grown into an international organization serving young adults from 17 and up. We currently offer six full-service locations and two step down locations. Each location is created to meet specific and unique needs.
In September of 2018, Jessica Jo Stenquist, TRS, MPA, MSW, LCSW, made the move from working with adolescent boys at outBACK to working with adolescent girls. A full year later, she continues to uphold and expand upon the principles of Leaning Into Female Empowerment, also known as the “ABCs of LIFE”.
The L.I.F.E. Curriculum was designed by women for young women. It is one that addresses the struggles adolescent girls face through both a clinical and social lens. As adolescent girls work through the various mental and emotional struggles, it is reported that the LIFE curriculum offers a unique method of simultaneously addressing ways in which social expectations, attitudes, and behaviors, associated with girls, play a role in their lives. The “ABCs of LIFE” are embedded into an Empowerment Curriculum that allows for adolescent girls to empower ownership, empower relationships, and understand the impact of collective empowerment:
- Empowering Ownership: Acceptance + Accountability + Awareness
- Empowering Relationships: Boundaries + Bravery + Belonging
- Collective Empowerment: Courage + Compassion + Connection
When asked to speak about the use of two dedicated dogs in the girls group, Jessica Jo shared, “The ability to use our dogs as therapy animals requires the utilization of present moments for learning and change. This cannot be planned, thus our staff are trained on the importance of observing the interactions between each student and the dog to evaluate behaviors and responses in each situation. Utilizing metaphors between the student’s interactions with the dogs and their everyday life back at home enhances the experience for our girls as they gain a deeper analysis and insight into who they are and how they wish to show up in life.”
About outBACK Therapeutic Expeditions
outBACK Therapeutic Expeditions is a licensed wilderness therapy program located in Utah dedicated in bringing families BACK together. outBACK offers a clinically informed comprehensive assessment and treatment that yields high clinical values for teens and families. outBACK provides an innovative clinical structure designed to optimize clinical oversight by having an additional Masters level therapist in the group daily along with a clinician overseeing every main department of programming. outBACK helps teens ages 13-17 with various areas of difficulties such as depression, anxiety, trauma, family conflict, engagement in dangerous behaviors, mild ASD, electronic and gaming addiction and more. outBACK’s treatment options place strong emphasis on healthy relationships, increased self-efficacy, and a healthy amount of autonomy through skill building.
The end of this year marks the 10 year anniversary of The Dorm, a young adult treatment community with locations in New York City and Washington, D.C.
The Dorm NYC was founded on a simple mission: to bridge the gap between traditional inpatient and outpatient care for young adults seeking to develop the necessary skills to sustain independence. Today, The Dorm has expanded its services to a second location in Washington, D.C. and is proud to be able to serve a broader client population than ever before.
Individualized Care and Community Support In the Urban Core
According to Founder and CEO, John McGeehan, LCSW, CADC, The Dorm offers a unique approach to care for clients between the ages of 17 and 35: “Our integrative approach combines the power of a supportive peer group, partial independent living opportunities and individualized treatment plans that focus on treating the whole person and not a singular diagnosis”, says John. “Our treatment team combines evidence-based therapies with real-world experiences that meet clients where they are - at home, at school, or out in the community. The Dorm’s urban locations in New York City and Washington, D.C. provide therapeutic support and opportunities for community building that young adults need, in the cities where they go to school and choose to build their lives,”
“Most of all, we emphasize the importance of community to the treatment experience'', shares John. “When young people see and understand that they are not alone and that by working together with their peers they can achieve new goals, we see amazing things happen! For 10 years, we have seen this treatment philosophy bring meaningful and sustainable change to the lives of our clients.”
Holistic Services that Support the Whole Person
For a decade, The Dorm has developed a robust array of services that support the multifaceted needs of young adults experiencing life changes and new demands.
“We see the best results when we are able to treat the whole person',' explains Amanda Fialk, PhD, LCSW, LICSW, Partner and Chief of Clinical Services. “Clinically, we have the expertise to treat a mental health diagnosis, an eating disorder or a substance use disorder, but we see young people really thrive when they are also learning, developing and enriching other parts of their self and developing skills that prepare them for life. This is why we focus on skills therapy, where clients learn ways to navigate the ups and downs of a job, school, or interpersonal relationships. It is also why we emphasize support around mindfulness training, fitness and nutrition, which can have a marked impact on general wellbeing. Ultimately, our goal is to support our clients on their way to living healthy, independent lives.”
Celebrate with The Dorm at a Local Open House Event!
This September and October, The Dorm will be celebrating 10 years of care at our New York City location and the one year anniversary of The Dorm, D.C. with two open house events. They invite you to stop by and say hello!
About The Dorm
The Dorm’s mission is to guide young adults towards independence through a full-service treatment community that offers comprehensive day and evening services, partial residential treatment and individualized life skills training. With two urban locations, one in New York City, NY and one in Washington, D.C., The Dorm is committed to supporting therapeutic endeavors and community building in the environments where young adults need to thrive and in the cities they call home.
Martin, GA — Yoga Psychotherapy offers hope and holistic healing to teens in crisis at Shepherd’s Hill Academy. Yoga Psychotherapy is an integration based modality that utilizes both the clinical, evidence-based treatment of psychotherapy along with the therapeutic principles of a trauma-informed yoga practice. At Shepherd’s Hill Academy, yoga is utilized in the girls' therapy groups in order to offer growth and healing for the whole person. Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and certified yoga instructor Victoria Nolen offers trauma-Informed and 12-Step Recovery based yoga groups to the therapeutic program.
Yoga is a transformational practice that has been widely found to benefit the mind, body, and soul. The Yoga Psychotherapy groups are geared toward the enhancement of students’ overall health and well-being. The integration of the practice into group therapy is beneficial, not only to students who struggle with somatic symptoms, but those suffering from emotional, mental health and behavioral issues as well.
Clinical studies repeatedly show that healing from trauma involves the body and so yoga psychotherapy incorporates the body in the treatment process through the practice of therapeutic yoga postures, breathwork, mindfulness and self-compassion practices. At Shepherd’s Hill Academy, one group the students may partake in is the Trauma-Informed Yoga group. The Trauma-informed group is designed for students who have experienced traumas including, but not limited to, abuse, neglect, loss, unexpected separation, anxiety, depression, prenatal drug exposure and family addiction. This practice involves verbal processing as well as a body-based approach to yoga. This group focuses on developing grounding, regulation, relaxation, and life skills.
Somatic psychotherapist and Yoga Faith instructor Victoria Nolen speaks to this program, “I only use interventions in therapy that I have experienced work for myself or seen success stories in others. My personal story is that I too had a history of trauma. I fully and undoubtedly believe God brought me to the practice of yoga as it has been the number one healing tool in my journey. I have yet to find a tool that literally works on all levels – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. I continue to use the practice to maintain my physical, mental, and emotional health, and to connect with God on a deeper level.”
Students at Shepherd’s Hill Academy have reported that practicing the yoga has helped them to “learn to breathe”, “feel open, content, and relaxed”, “communicate better”, “develop “peace, closure, and self-discipline”, “be present” and “grow closer to God.”
About Sheperd's Hill Academy
Shepherd’s Hill Academy is a faith-based Residential Therapeutic Boarding School serving teens between the ages of 12-17. Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, SHA offers a unique hybrid program featuring accredited academics, individual, group and equine therapies, and an unplugged wilderness adventure setting.
The founders of New Haven, a residential treatment center was founded in 1995. The founders created the New Haven Values Program over 20 years ago. The Values Program has guided hundreds of girls and their families through their healing process. New Haven is a residential treatment center and college preparatory school for adolescent girls ages 13-18. New Haven specializes in treating adolescent girls struggling with anxiety, depression, trauma, family distress and academic under-achievement. Students and their parents have come to family therapy each week, ready to discuss the assignments the family has worked on from the Values Program.
Over the last year, many dedicated employees have devoted countless hours to improving this piece of the treatment program. What was the Values Program is now the Family Healing Program, with additional emphasis on whole family work and healing. New Haven is excited about these additions and enhancements. As families engage in the Family Healing Program, they will find a framework to help them work through the many challenges that brought them to New Haven. Lifelong change is found when the whole family changes.
In the Family Healing Program, academics also has an increased presence. New Haven students are typically college-bound following high school. Academic success plays a critical role in helping students continue their college prep academics at the same time they are healing emotionally. As students move through the phases of healing at New Haven, they are also working hard in school. Each student’s academic advisor plays a role in helping guide them through the academic portions of the Family Healing Program. Parents are included in the academic process through quarterly parent teacher conferences.
An important part of the Family Healing Program continues to be the family experiential work that each family is asked to do. A former student contacted New Haven recently and shared that she and her family are still having a bi-weekly walk and talk in nature, 10 years after she graduated from New Haven. Families are able to choose experiences, like the walk, in the Family Healing program that they know they need in order to grow closer. New Haven RTC will celebrate the 25th anniversary in 2020, the community is excited to celebrate the evolution of the treatment program and the Family Healing Program
About New Haven RTC
Founded in 1995, New Haven Residential Treatment Center has been an industry leader in treatment for young women since its inception. We serve adolescent females, ages 12-18. New Haven is clinically intensive with an emphasis on family involvement, healthy relationships, academics, love and service. New Haven is a fully licensed professional Residential Treatment Center, located in rural Utah, south of Salt Lake City.
In 2012, Ari Brown and Michelle Waters-Butler, PsyD set out to create the Polaris program, envisioning a unique residential treatment center that was specifically designed to be a haven for adolescents to heal and grow. They knew from their many years of experience working in the mental health and substance abuse fields, that in order to make a program special, clinical excellence, innovative programming and a team that cared about the residents and about each other was paramount. After opening their doors to their first location in January 2014, the Polaris team has never lost sight of these guiding principles. Today, that original team includes Clinical Director Myfanwy Stevens, LMFT and Program Director Jessica Meyer.
Polaris opened a second residence over three years ago to serve a total of twelve families at any given time. They continue to treat the population they set out to treat-teens suffering from mental health issues that are commonly seen as complex. Over the years, the programming has sharpened to include the most innovative therapeutic modalities and Polaris has led the charge in inclusion of many of these breakthrough trauma-informed and experiential interventions. As Ari Brown, CEO put “our resources have always gone into clinical care and programming first and foremost. We operate from the belief that if you stay true to the mission of providing high-quality care to the families you serve than the rest will follow.” Dr. Butler, COO adds that “the key to success of our small program is staying small. We don’t have to compromise clinical excellence and having heart.”
After five years, Polaris Teen Center remains committed to its original mission and stays true to the teens and families they serve. As Polaris celebrates this milestone, the team thanks the many professionals whom have trusted them and continued to collaborate with them over the years. Polaris looks forward to the future and soon announcing further innovations in their programming.
About Polaris Teen Center
Polaris Teen Center is a residential mental health treatment center for adolescents and teens in Los Angeles, California. The Polaris treatment team is committed to providing sophisticated, innovative, and compassionate treatment of major depression, bipolar, anxiety and trauma, gender dysphoria, co-occurring substance abuse and eating disorders, attachment disorders, autism spectrum disorders and self harm.