Student-Chosen Guides Mentor and Celebrate the Journeys at Equinox
Equinox has an intricate mentoring system that pairs students with staff members, better known as guides. A guide can be any employee at Equinox and are chosen by the student after their first month in the program. Choosing their own guide is one of many purposeful ways for students to feel they have input in the program. Once selected, the guide is tasked with building a strong, supportive connection. By deeply understanding the student, a guide supports their adjustment and progress while collaborating closely with their clinician.
Equinox guides go above and beyond to support the student and encourage them throughout the program on their healing journey. Equinox guides also lead progress ceremonies for students, in which they are celebrated with a ceremony after having demonstrated engagement in the program and progress in their treatment plan. While their mental health certainly benefits, making this sort of progress is not dependent on symptom improvement. Rather, students are recognized for their positive engagement and efforts, even if they continue to experience symptoms such as anxiety or depression. Acknowledging pro-social choices is a good motivation for students to continue their progress and feel proud of their accomplishments.
“We’ve had some amazing ceremonies lately,” says Executive Director John Moore. “It’s exciting to be a part of these moments and see the impact on our students. Our guides are so creative in their approach, and I love to see how it builds staff culture to plan and share in this way.”
A few of the residential team members at Equinox serve as current student guides. One of the guides made a special appearance during Equinox’s experiential week to celebrate their student around the fire with a symbolic gift, kind words, and s’mores. These are moments that help students realize the deep care and compassion in the work. The surprise visit had an overall positive impact on the experiential week and the group culture. Another Equinox guide recently surprised their student with a staff-student rap battle.
Each ceremony or surprise is personalized for the student as they are meant to feel seen and appreciated. The surprises can be playful or cathartic, always dependent on the student and their unique personality. The only guidelines for the ceremony are for guides to make it a surprise, and for it to be symbolic and special for the student being honored. The guide-ceremony system aligns with our relationship-based clinical model: trusting relationships drive change.
About Equinox RTC
Equinox RTC is a residential program in North Carolina for young men ages 14-18 who struggle with depression, relational trauma, anxiety, and more. We have created a relationship-based culture and experiential approach designed specifically to meet the needs of teenage boys.