Occupational Therapy is Added to the Milieu at Mountain Valley
Mountain Valley Treatment Center, a residential program for adolescents and young adults with anxiety and OCD, has recently added Occupational Therapy to its daily programming. Zack Schafer, MS, OTR/L, has joined MVTC as the Milieu Therapist. As Milieu Therapist, Zack’s role is to understand the demands of the program, evaluate the strengths and challenges of individual residents, and support both the program and the individual residents in bridging the gap between daily activities and therapeutic interventions. Whether it be promoting residents’ use of self-regulatory strategies in milieu, teaching independent living skills, or providing recommendations to residential staff on how to grade and prescribe therapeutic programming, the occupational therapy is focused on maximizing how the residents are therapeutically “occupied” throughout their treatment.
Zack explains that the roots of occupational therapy are grounded in mental health treatment. “In the late 1700’s and early 1800’s the ‘moral treatment movement’ led to many mental health institutions initiating the use of therapeutic activities, such as arts and crafts, gardening, and other work based tasks within the milieu. After recognizing the benefits of engaging persons with mental health challenges in meaningful and purposeful activities, a group of American Psychiatrists in the early 1900’s founded the field of Occupational Therapy. The goal of the profession was to focus on how ‘occupying’ one’s mind and body in activities influences their well-being and how prescribing ‘curative occupations’ could facilitate healing.”
By hiring an Occupational Therapist to work in the milieu with the residents, MVTC can view daily activities through a new lens. All individuals have activities that they need to participate in to maintain their well-being (hygiene, eating, sleep, etc.) and activities they want to engage in to give meaning to their life (work, school, leisure, social, etc). Illness, injury, and other barriers can shape what activities one engages in and impacts a resident’s overall capacity to engage in those activities. Zack, as the MVTC Milieu Therapist, works with residents to determine what activities they want and need to engage in, what the barriers are to meaningful engagement, and then provides interventions to support them in reaching their goals.
About Mountain Valley Treatment Center
Mountain Valley Treatment Center is a nationally recognized evidence-based treatment center for adolescents suffering from anxiety and OCD. Located along the New Hampshire bank of the Connecticut River, Mountain Valley Treatment Center stands apart from like providers because of its specialization, unique setting, and comprehensive approach to care.