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New Perspectives - July, 2002 Issue #95 

Sandpoint, Idaho
Larry Blakey – Program Director

Since SquareOne has refocused their program design, this “New Perspective” describes the changes that have occurred. During the winter season, the staff and partners worked to develop a design that “fit with their level of expertise in outdoor experiential education but allowed the consistent integration of the individual and family therapy which is a hallmark of the organization.” They found that more students needed family interaction while in the wilderness, and many also required more behavioral or psychological assessment than was possible in the field.

The resulting program allows “young people to have the opportunity to experience real adventure and the nurturance of the wilderness in smaller blocks of time, a maximum of three to four days. Then they return to the small ranch facility that offers all the comforts of home including telephones and fax machines to facilitate family communication.” Alternating the experiences between action oriented activities such as hiking, canoeing, kayaking and the more structured activities of day to day chores, exercise workouts, and menu planning gives the staff the opportunity to observe the participants under the stress of physical challenges as well as in light of day to day household cooperation. This also allows for therapists to engage the family and participant together more readily. In this way, “the culminating family workshop is solidly based in work that began at admission and has continued throughout the program.”

The intention at SquareOne is to increase access to options. The goal then becomes to sustain progress in diagnostic efforts, educational activities, family communication and personal awareness. To refresh the family process is merely to assist the youngster and the family to move back from the corner they have walked themselves into and resurvey the directions available. “By the end of the program, participants and parents are again excited when they look forward.”

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