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Posted: Nov 23, 2009 10:02


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Provo, UT
Ari Terry
Jacqueline Fairbanks

Visit by Larry Stednitz, October 14, 2009

New Haven is an all female RTC founded in 1995. Located in Spanish Fork and Saratoga Springs, UT, on 31 rural acres, the girls live in one of four large and comfortable homes, with 15-18 girls in each home. The program makes every effort to foster a homelike, comfortable feeling in each of the homes. For example, the girls can provide their own bedding and other personal items to decorate their rooms. The girls also are responsible for doing chores and participate in cooking some meals. The chores vary, but cover the usual responsibilities of maintaining a household. Each home has a cook and the girls eat family-style meals.

New Haven accepts girls who struggle with depression, anxiety, PTSD, minor eating disorders, non verbal learning disabilities, attachment disorders, substance abuse, self-harm and personality disordered youth. Girls who are pregnant, assaultive or psychotic are not appropriate.

There are several programs that embrace Systemic Family Therapies, and New Haven has advanced and fully integrated this model of treatment into their program. This model integrates the entire family to a high level of involvement in the treatment process. Included in this premise, it is thought that each girl is an expression of the context within she spends a lot of time and in turn is also suffering from a series of imbalances and dysfunctions that have a negative effect on the individual members. This perspective sees the family as a system in which the following occurs:

  • An emotional/behavioral problem presents a series of constantly repeated and unstable relational patterns.

  • To change or improve, it is necessary to interrupt or modify these patterns, involving all family members, not just the person suffering.

  • When the relational patterns are modified, a period of reorganization of the family-individual-communication occurs.

I last visited New Haven two years ago and they have refined and continued their effort to treat the entire family. Upon completion of my tour, it was clear to me how New Haven integrates the family into the program, or better stated, they have "taken on" not just the young lady, but the entire family. Equally important, New Haven staff members insert themselves fully into the family. New Haven is a great fit for a family willing to help their daughter while recognizing the importance of their role.

To facilitate this effort, New Haven uses several approaches. First, emerging themselves into the family system is an arduous commitment. To this end, New Haven employs 50 full time employees and 118 part-time employees. This writer is of the opinion that New Haven understands the need to be well staffed, partly to reduce the stress and strain of operating a complex program.

Operationally, New Haven holds a weekly treatment team meeting for each of their four homes to discuss each girl each week, adjusting the treatment plan when required. Approximately 10-12 staff members attend these meetings, assuring all disciplines are on the same page. These meetings serve to have all staff involved, maintaining a cohesive understanding among all those involved.

In order to fully integrate parents into the New Haven milieu, parents are expected to commit to being on campus three full days every two months. Those three days consists of parents participating in individual, group and family therapies. Psycho educational groups are also held as well as multi-family therapy. The three days are not all work, as the girls often spend time off grounds with their parents.

Another interesting approach to maximizing parental involvement, parents and their daughter are expected to "work the level system" simultaneously. The parents are expected to follow the progression within a level system just as the girls do. For example, one of the assignments associated with the levels system may include a girl being asked to write a paper on how she is going to work on her issues and be honest in therapy. If done well, and with the completion of the other assignments associated with the level, she may move up to the next level. The parents may be given an assignment similar to that given their daughter. The treatment team reviews the progress of the parents as well as the progress of the girls on a regular basis.

I spoke with several girls and many said that they liked the family approach. The family approach took some of the pressure off of the girls because they know that the parents are working hard and that the blame and burden is not just placed on the girls. They also talked about how they can see the improvement within themselves. One girl said, "I am not all that crazy at being here in treatment, but I am learning a lot and think I can get the help I need." Another said "I like the family focus and it is like a big family." The girls were well dressed and appeared to be engaged in the program.

The girls are involved in a variety of therapies, including individual and family therapy weekly, group therapy, and recreational therapy, each session 90 minutes in length. The girls also have available DBT skills groups, identity issue groups, recovery, art, relationships and sexual reactivity, and others. The program also includes equine therapy, a high and low ropes course and a values program.

It is notable that New Haven provides consistent research into the effectiveness of their programming and outcomes. This information can be found on their web-site.

New Haven is accredited through the Joint Commission and the Northwest Association of Accredited Schools. They are a member of NATSAP and have EAGALA trained therapists.

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