VISTA ADOLESCENT TREATMENT CENTERS
Staci Bradley, Admission Coordinator
Visit by Larry Stednitz, March 2, 2007
Vista Adolescent Centers, founded in 1991, include four different services--Vista at Dimple Dell, Vista Magna, Vista Teen Living, and Vista Counseling Services. The Dimple Dell Canyon program consists of one large home for 16 girls. The home is large and comfortable, providing a home-like environment.
Vista at Dimple Dell is a 16-bed residential treatment home for girls. Appropriate girls for the program include those who are diagnosed as depressed, dysthymic, bi-polar, eating disordered, oppositional defiant, post traumatic stress disorder, attachment problems, substance abuse and borderline personality disorders. Learning disabilities are not uncommon. A full 85% of the girls have been involved with alcohol and drugs. The program cannot accept fire setters and those who are severely assaultive. Steve Sawyer, clinical director, emphasized that the program works well for average to above average girls capable of abstract thinking capabilities. The typical girl is bright, creative, articulate and manipulative.
Vista at Dimple is relationship based, as are their other three programs. Their first focus is the relationship the girls have with themselves. Many girls have had trauma related difficulties and the program assists them in identifying lost hopes and dreams. The effort is to rekindle their interests in lost excitement and enthusiasm for their futures and their relationship with a higher power.
The second focus, interpersonal relationship work, is directed at helping the girls develop the skill needed to develop long term healthy relationships. Many of the girls have good social skills but are unable to maintain healthy relationships over time. The program helps the girls identify and correct inaccurate perceptions and feelings about how to relate to others in a healthy manner. The third important component of relationship work is to help the students understand how they fit into the larger world. This work addresses "What is my purpose, and where do I fit in?" This relationship skill assists girls in learning how they contribute to others.
Each student has a therapist they see in weekly individual and group therapies and is seen by the psychiatrist on a weekly basis. The clinical team meets weekly to evaluate each girl's progress and adjusts treatment when indicated. The therapist also serves as the direct communicator with the parents. The students have six group therapy sessions weekly, including dialectic behavioral therapy to help the girls manage their emotions. There are also body image and survival groups as well as equine therapy, dancing, and other recreational therapies. Each girl rotates through equine therapy. Dancing is perhaps the primary physical activity and experiential tool at Dimple Dell. Those girls who have a strong interest in dance can participate in off campus dance studios and competition.
The clinical team meets weekly to evaluate each girl's progress and adjusts treatment when indicated. Each girl is seen by the psychiatrist on a weekly basis.
I met with five girls in various stages of treatment. They discussed how difficult it was to manage the tight structure. They also discussed how they adjusted to the structure and felt safe over time. One girl said, "The biggest thing is the relationship with the other girls and the staff. " They also volunteered that the therapists and staff are dedicated and the staff and therapists care about them. Another said, "This is the safest place I have ever been." The girls talked about various "interventions." For example, one girl said that when she came to Dimple Dell, she wore only black. Each morning, two girls were assigned to her and helped her pick out clothes. They gave her ideas of how she could improve how she appeared. Over time, her new appearance helped her feel better about herself and the girls became very close to each other.
Another girl said she had difficulty asking for help. Her assignment was to ask for help for everything she did throughout the day. She said that over time this made it easier to ask for help when she really needed it.
One girl said "This is not a drug-rehab place. A lot of us have used "fun" drugs, but we all have lots of different issues." The girls also said that when a team is struggling, they will spend the entire day in therapies. It was apparent that the program has developed a variety of specific interventions that assists the girls in staying on track in their treatment. Overall, it was apparent that the girls exemplified the program's emphasis upon relationships and the positive effect on the girls.
Vista is licensed by the Department of Human Services, Office of Licensing: accredited by JCAHO; accredited by the Utah State Department of Education; accredited by the NW Association of Schools and Colleges.