Having a safe place, both emotionally and physically, to live and learn is extremely important for our students to heal and grow during their time at Solstice East. Therefore, the importance of the “milieu” in the therapeutic progress of each girl cannot be overstated. The daily behavior and interactions of each student in the more casual, informal settings throughout each day are the clearest evidence we have of where she is in relation to her therapeutic progress.
Our goal is to offer space through structure and support for this to come up naturally for our students, and we focus on the following key components in order to structure, support and maintain a healthy milieu:
Students are organized into four teams, named for each season: Spring Team, Summer Team, Autumn Team, and Winter Team. The teams are organized around which primary therapist the student is paired with. The teams spend much of their time together, from meals to workouts, off-campus recreation and on-campus activities. Having both students and staff members divided into specific teams allows for deeper relationships to be built, and create a small-program feel.
Principle Based Interventions
One of the first assignments in the Hero’s Journey is to create their Hero’s Code, which involves identifying the principles and values that are important to them. When something occurs that goes against our guidelines for creating a safe and loving environment, we utilize experiential methods to internalize these principles to create future, lasting change. This looks different for each student and situation, and the aim is to help our students internalize these values as they face the ups and downs of the therapeutic process.
Community Roles in one of the top troubled teens programs
At Solstice East, one of the most effective troubled teens programs, we believe that a person who has responsibilities within a community and contributes positively to that community, and is held accountable for carrying out those duties effectively, will learn and grow tremendously. Participation in our milieu includes carrying a community role, or a “job” which is necessary in the efficient function of the daily regimen. These jobs range in duties from emptying trash, to managing laundry schedule, to assisting in the kitchen, and many others. The purpose of these roles is threefold: 1) to teach responsibility, 2) to enhance the feeling of being “needed”, 3) to increase self- efficacy and sense of confidence in a “job well-done.”
Hopefully, you’ve had a chance to read about our phase system, which is based on the archetypal Hero’s Journey. (If not, please take a look here!) As students progress through their journey, they are learning about responsibility, accountability, and community; becoming a leader among their peers; and promoting the healthy living environment that our girls thrive in at Solstice East, one of the most effective troubled teens programs.
Additionally, the residential environment provides the girls a great place to really practice what they are learning through their own personal Hero’s Journey. This is where we see the proverbial “rubber hit the road,” and even after they stumble, our girls realize that great strides are still possible.
The treatment process reflects this same “journey” through ups and downs in which our students must “face their dragons,” overcome adversity, and emerge strong, confident young women ready to return home and take on life. The progression through the phase system is meant to highlight a student’s growth and development, while also providing her with opportunities to face and overcome her fears.
A Relational Approach
Life is predicated on relationships, and this is often magnified for those who have experienced trauma and loss. Our Mentors work everyday to build meaningful, healthy attachments and relationships with our girls. This means the relationship will be broken and repaired throughout their journey, and the Mentors are helping the girls to understand the effect their choices and actions can have on a relationship.
This also means we are thoughtful with our learning experiences and let natural consequences manifest themselves. We are not trying to control behaviors while they are here, we are trying to teach and show the girls that it is fulfilling to make choices that are good for their relationships and rooted in their principles and values.