Visit by: Lon Woodbury, MA, IECA, CEP, February 2010
I walked in the front doors to be greeted by an obviously placed big sign saying, "Welcome Lon Woodbury." It was as if I were a celebrity or something. For sure they were expecting me.
The last time I had been there was during their first year of operation, about 1995. The changes were significant. They had added an administration building and a building for dorms. Gone were the temporary portables where they used to hold classes. The area was still rural, with the complex surrounded by vacant fields, although housing developments were more evident than before as development is slowly moving into the area.
With the original building having been well maintained, all buildings in the complex had the appearance of being new and quite functional.
I was warmly welcomed by Brittney Freebairn, representing the Admissions Department who had coordinated my visit. It was obvious they had the process of a consultant visit down to almost a science. They started with a tour of the facilities with a running explanation as to what happens in each area. This included showing me the dorm rooms, which is always something I always look at very closely. The dorm rooms always give a sense of how well the students are settling in and a reflection of their internal emotional life. The dorms were clean and ordered. No messy rooms in sight. The same for all the facilities, they were clean and colorful with restful color schemes.
Key staff was available for extensive questioning and I had all my questions answered as completely as was possible in the time we had. These discussions were sufficient to give me a decent overall feel for the program. Just before leaving, it was good to catch up with Executive Director Don Vardell with whom I've worked off and on for several years when he was with other programs.
The students are fully scheduled throughout the day. Everywhere I looked I saw students engrossed in what they were doing, whether in groups, moving to the next scheduled activity, classes, or even in one case right around lunch time, relaxing in a lounge filled with comfortable chairs and sofas and just taking advantage of a brief hanging out period.
Group Therapy utilizes a Positive Peer Culture (PPC) format and occurs two to three times a week. PPC is based on goals and objectives being set by residents and families with the support of the treatment team. Peer feedback is key to this approach and adolescents respond very well to feedback from peers and families. Therapist driven Process and Problem Solving Groups are also held weekly. Group therapy sessions are more frequent than individual sessions. This is based on research that has concluded that for adolescents, group therapy is more effective than individual therapy.
There are a number of specialty groups also for those needing additional work and attention. For example for students with Chemical Abuse/Dependency problems, struggling with grief and loss, adoption issues, or, confused about men's issues, women's issues or relationships, appropriate groups will be developed.
The program is licensed by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) and the Utah Dept. of Human Services, Dept. of Licensure.
Recreation is also important. This is not only for the kids to have some fun, but physical activity is very important in enhancing the overall wellbeing of the residents, especially when mixed with clinical and scholastic elements.
Island View has an on-campus private school fully accredited with the Utah Dept. of Education, the California Dept. of Education and the Northwest Association of Accredited Schools. The curriculum is College Prep, with classes no larger than 16 students, each of which has integrated individualized instruction. Students attend a full six-period school day, five days per week. Since the school is year-round, students have a good opportunity to catch up for missed credits.
I had a chance to visit with two students about their experiences. As part of the work of a smoothly coordinated visit, the staff left me alone with the students so there would be no chance for the students to feel intimidated by the presence of the staff. They were very open about their experiences that had led them to Island View, their experiences at the program, and their hopes for the future after graduating from Island View. (Note to the staff: both were quite positive about their experience at Island View). They were articulate, well aware of their problems and optimistic they would be able to overcome their old habits that had caused them problems.