Not all adopted children and families struggle. However, a disproportionate number of them do have struggles and issues. If you have made it to this point in our site, it is likely that you are experiencing not only problems with your adopted daughter but problems that you cannot explain and that you cannot figure out how to manage. Often times parents are so traumatized that they have lost hope and cannot understand why the little girl they lovingly invited into their home seems to have turned against them and all the love they have provided. Nothing intuitive seems to work. Nothing makes sense and no one seems able to help. You are at the end of your ability to help your daughter and your ability to continue to cope with the difficulties may be near an end. You are not alone and there is help. We invite you to read further and see how we can help.
Struggling adopted children and their families need help and treatment that is specially designed for their unique needs which are often not the same as those of a non-adopted children and families. Unfortunately, there are very few adoption-competent therapists and even fewer adoption-competent programs. Studies indicate that between 30% and 40% of all adolescents in residential treatment are adopted and need adoption-competent therapy. Research also indicates that even though adopted children often present with symptoms similar to adopted children (abnormal anger, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, ODD, OCD, self-harm, suicide ideation and attempts, etc.), adopted children generally have longer histories of trauma, higher suicide rates and poorer academic achievement than non-adopted children. Research further indicates that adopted children with trauma and attachment disorders do not respond to the general treatments and milieu’s in most programs. In fact, research also indicates that treating adopted children in the same manner that non-adopted children are treated is not only counterproductive but can be harmful. However, with so few adoption-competent therapists and programs most adopted children are treated in exactly the same manner as non-adopted children.
Our approach is comprehensive and holistic in nature. We view what we do as the creation of a partnership between you, your daughter and us. We are all in this together to help your daughter, you and your family heal. As such, each one of us will play a very important and vital role in the process of healing. If we all perform our roles in this process, the healing that your daughter and your family will experience will change your lives for the better. It is not an easy process but together we can do it. Our success as a program is not measured by how well a girl does while in our care but how well the whole family does long after she leaves our program.
Our comprehensive and holistic approach begins with the creation of an environment that is based on unconditional love and where all decisions are made out of care and concern for our girls and their families. We operate a full, active and disciplined positive peer culture (PPC) that is specifically designed to facilitate healing for girls suffering from trauma and attachment related issues. We have designed and customized our PPC environment in consultation with Dr. Larry Brendtro, one of the founding fathers of this type of therapeutic milieu (See Positive Peer Culture, Drs. Harry H. Vorath and Larry K. Brendtro). PPC requires our girls to identify their emotions, learn to communicate clearly and effectively, and take responsibility for their own treatment program. The other general model utilized by some treatment centers is based on points and levels wherein the girls are rewarded for “good” behavior and demoted or punished for “bad” behavior. Research has determined that these types of environments are counterproductive and counter indicated for the type of population we serve.
PPC also provides a basis for communication that allows very difficult issues to be discussed in a non-emotional and non-threatening manner. Issues that probably caused untold trauma for parents and child in the past. The girls are expected to use this form of communication with each other and with staff members. Even more importantly, however, we strongly encourage families to make PPC a part of their family culture and to begin using it when communicating with each other and with their child who is in treatment. Because of the progressive stages of PPC (casing, limit testing, polarization, PPC), we are able to gauge where a girl is in her program and the therapeutic progress she is making by how she behaves in the PPC environment.
Into this environment we apply a multi-therapeutic approach to treating trauma and attachment. We utilize Holly Van Gulden’s “In Search of Self” treatment program, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy (TF-CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Attachment-Focused EMDR, Equine Therapy, Art Therapy, Music Therapy as well as Outdoor and Recreational Therapy. The strength of our program is the individualized manner that each of these therapies are designed into and applied to each girl’s and each family’s individual treatment plan. The heart of our program is literally the people who have gathered together with one goal in mind—to serve with all their hearts and souls the girls and families that we are privileged to help.
Our philosophy is that young women suffering from trauma and attachment issues require an evidence based and specialized form of treatment in order for them and their families to heal. We believe that this population is both underserved and the services available are often counterproductive and even harmful. In order to provide an environment and services to properly serve these young women, we have sought after and continually assess the evidence-based therapies and treatments and apply them in our program. We also continually modify our program to stay on the cutting edge of evidence-based treatments but also to meet the unique needs of our clients. While we are expert in the treatment that we provide, every young woman and family that comes into our program still requires and individualized treatment plan utilizing the best tools available to help them heal and reunite as a family. We often reach out and incorporate or utilize additional methodologies if it will benefit an individual young woman and her family.
Our philosophy is further defined by our belief that there are several important factors that will determine success not only in the short term but even more importantly in the long term. One of the very critical factors is the extent to which the family is involved in the treatment process. We have never had a young woman in our program who has not gone on to be successful after completing our program if her family fully and completely engaged in the program and treatment process while she was with us. Unfortunately, when parents and families do not engage in the program their girls will often struggle upon leaving our program. We play a large role in the healing process but we cannot do it without you. Many parents will tell us that they have been going to therapy and treatment for years and have never been given tools that we give them and that actually work and help their daughter. It does not mean that they are not great parents doing the very best they can, it means that there are very few adoption-informed therapists and available resources. You will get those tools and resources and we will work with you in implementing them into your family system so that your daughter can more easily transition home and remain on her path to healing and success.
Another cornerstone of our philosophy involves the people that we place in a position to help your daughter. While we look for the best trained and experienced professionals we can find, an even more important criteria for us is the character and heart of the person we hire. Our people are not only expert at what they do, their heart and soul is committed to the work they do and to the young women and families they serve. Parents often comment on the love that they feel from our staff towards them and towards their daughter.
Continue to Treatment Methods