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News & Views - Nov  2000 Issue #75

Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Industry Council's
Policy on Therapeutic Holds

Mike Merchant, OBHIC President

Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Industry Council (OBHIC) met on October 13, 2000 and issued the following policy statement on the use of therapeutic holds:

“OBHIC programs subscribe to clinically-based behavioral management and crisis intervention methods, policies and procedures that focus on therapeutic relationships and minimize the use of therapeutic holds. Therapeutic holds are being defined as any intervention that involuntarily restricts a client's movements. We state that the use of therapeutic holds to discipline or punish is never justified. OBHIC programs do not employ mechanical restraints of any kind.

We maintain that the only appropriate use of therapeutic holds is for safety, when individuals are in immanent risk of harming themselves, others or significantly damaging property. We believe therapeutic holds should be employed only after de-escalation techniques and other reasonable options have been exhausted or a crisis cannot otherwise be averted.”

“We are concerned about the frequent use of therapeutic holds in the behavioral health industry as a whole,” says Rob Cooley of Catherine Freer, an Oregon based outdoor behavioral healthcare agency. “It is not just an issue of providing safer therapeutic holds, it is about using interventions that reduce the need for therapeutic holds, thus minimizing the risk.”

The policy statement was issued and approved by 10 member programs,” according to Mark Hobbins, Senior Vice-President of Aspen Youth Services. “All serve youth with substance abuse and emotional and behavioral concerns in the outdoors using a clinically supervised model of care.” 

The following programs are members of OBHIC: 
Anasazi Foundation (Mesa, Arizona) 
CEDU Ascent (Naples, Idaho ) 
Aspen Achievement Academy (Loa, Utah) 
Catherine Freer Wilderness Therapy (Albany, Oregon) 
Eckerd Youth Alternatives (Tampa, Florida) 
Red Cliff Ascent (Springville, Utah) 
Summit Achievement Academy (Stow, Maine) 
Sunhawk Academy (St. George, Utah 
SUWS (Shoshone, Idaho) 
Three Springs (Huntsville, Alabama)

Before the meetings ended, OBHIC had initiated a task force to evaluate the use of therapeutic holds in outdoor programs and make further recommendations to the council. “Other professionals will be invited to participate in the task force,” says Andy Anderson of Eckerd Youth Alternative. We hope what we discover will be helpful to all caregivers.”

Research for the task force will be conducted by the University of Idaho. In 1998, OBHIC formed a research cooperative with U of I’s Wilderness Research Center to conduct and publish research and outcome data on the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare industry (contact Keith Russell at University of Idaho, e-mail: keithr@uidaho.edu). “The council was founded four years ago for this very purpose,” says Mike Merchant, C.E.O. of Anasazi Foundation and current OBHIC Chair. “It’s mission is to promote the clinical supervision and effectiveness of our programs, and raise the standard of care.”

The next OBHIC meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan 24 and Thursday, Jan 25, in San Diego, to be hosted by Aspen. This time and location was selected to preceed the NATSAP conference, also in San Diego.

For more information contact:

Mike Merchant
Anasazi Foundation
phone 480-892-7403 ext. 13
e-mail mike@anasazi.org
web site www.obhic.com

[These meetings were also attended by Woodbury Reports editor, Loi Eberle, who reconfirmed they will continue to post all relevant info at: www.obhic.com]

Copyright © 2000, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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