Change Academy at Lake of the Ozarks (CA-LO) is a specialized program for boys and girls 13 to 17 years of age who are dealing with serious attachment issues, trauma and affect regulation (the ability to control emotional responses in daily life) as a primary diagnosis. CA-LO aims to facilitate life-long attachment and healing between parents and their children. The average length of stay varies from six to eighteen months, depending on the nature of the presenting problem.
Relying heavily on the power of relationships in the change process, such as therapeutic relationships, peer relationships, staff relationships and family relationships, CA-LO employs two other significant change agents in the program: transferable attachment and experiential successes. Clinically appropriate students "adopt" a dog early in the program and, in bonding with and caring for their pet, learn many things such as unconditional love, self-discipline and commitment; skills and life-lessons that, once experienced and learned, can be applied to other situations in life. Students who do "adopt" a dog are encouraged to keep their pet upon completion of the program while those who do not "adopt" have the opportunity to work with program dogs. Outdoor challenges - especially water activities like sailing, canoeing and even a water obstacle course - offer experiences that build trust, confidence and self-reliance. Water activities play a prominent role in the family program.
Most of the senior staff at CA-LO have a special sensitivity to this population of young people as they were either adopted themselves or are adoptive parents or both. Using their backgrounds, CA-LO has developed a specialized training program for even their most experienced front-line staff and therapists.
[This New Perspectives was written by our Research Affiliate, Judith E. Bessette, EdD. Judi obtained the materials from the CA-LO brochure.]