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Home Explore Connections


Published by EMW, 2019-09-03 16:10:30

Description: A specialized care and program to help students succeed in school, relationships and life

Keywords: Connections,therapy,teens,school


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Connections If you are reading this, you’ve probably been here before. Faced with a crisis and not knowing what to do next, or where to turn. We’ve seen this scene play out too many times to count, which is why Connections was founded. When treatment fatigued students who have forms of avoidance and manipulation to exacerbate the struggled in other therapeutic settings reach principle of learned helplessness. a point of maximum benefit, they often become As a parent, educator or allied health professional, we dysregulated and they escalate their negative thoughts have all expended energy and additional resources in and behaviors. The current interdisciplinary treatment dealing with a son or daughter, a student, a patient or team may discuss amongst themselves how these a client who is headed toward a bad outcome. Every students are negatively impacting the program milieu therapeutic environment has a certain percentage of or culture. These particular students often use various their clientele that tends to struggle. |1

One of the main culprits in this situation is the student’s inability to connect...connect with peers; connect with parents; connect with adults and authority figures. Most importantly, they struggle to authentically connect with themselves. These students are often considered “Treatment Resistant”. There is hope! The theory behind the Connections program is that these students have been in therapeutic environments that were emotionally overwhelming. Many of these students may struggle in larger therapeutic milieus. Connections was specifically designed to provide a smaller residential community and treatment environment. With smaller and more personalized communities, Connections specializes in the treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD, ADHD), Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), anxiety, depression, learning challenges and executive functioning issues. Students experience success through personalized academic engagement, career exploration and a small nurturing therapeutic community. The students at Connections are regularly mastering the skills of self advocacy among peers, the direct care mentoring staff and the local city community. 2

Philosophy Connections offers a unique approach in residential treatment. These particular students thrive in a small and focused population limited to 12 students. The smaller population allows for the student’s specific needs to be catered to. A sense of physical and emotional safety is one of the therapeutic benefits of a smaller community. It also meets the very specific needs of our students who have not responded to therapy in larger programs. Connections students live and learn in a therapeutic environment that centers on community, character, and confidence. Students and families work through an individualized and personalized process that makes each student’s treatment immediate, detailed and specific to their individual needs. Connections offers experiential and traditional therapy in a relationship-based environment. Because of this clinically supported and sophisticated milieu, each student immediately sees the impact of his or her actions on their family, peers and community. |3

Students Who Flourish • Students regularly experience and internalize the process of developing healthy connections with The Connections Experience: individuals as well as community. • Connections students come to us on a stalled treatment trajectory having demonstrated • Parents are very supportive of their son or daughter treatment fatigue, treatment resistance and working to gain a sense of independence through they have reached maximum benefit at their career exploration with the opportunity for job current placement. shadowing and internships. • However, they do NOT need a locked campus. • Parents are relieved and thrilled their son or • Students have the daily opportunity to practice daughter can experience something different emotional regulation, self advocacy and healthy than what has been done in the past. There is relationships. still HOPE. 4

Treatment Approach Askilled and seasoned group of clinicians work individually, as well as in groups, with the students. They also interact with and educate the direct care mentoring staff and attend regular staff trainings. The campus is set up to encourage therapeutic opportunities outside the walls of an office. Therapists know and understand each of the student’s individual needs as well as the group dynamics of each community. The overall goal is to meet the students where they are at and walk with them as they struggle with the complex and often paralyzing emotional issues they encounter. As a part of the resistance previously mentioned, many of the students come to us saying that they don’t want or need therapy. Because the therapists and mentors are with the students and participate in the day-to-day activities with them, therapeutic opportunities arise and can be processed as they happen. It’s important to recognize that learning opportunities cannot be scheduled into an hour session in the therapist’s office. Therapeutic teachable moments can and do happen at any time. Therapy is provided through a three-pronged approach: 1. Traditional and Experiential Therapy 2. Academics 3. Residential Living |5

This three-pronged approach to therapeutic interventions provides an opportunity for students to learn and apply life skills that will help them return to their home communities once they transition from Connections. The therapeutic, academic and residential progress of each student is fully integrated through interdisciplinary treatment team communication and planning. Since each therapeutic community specializes in certain clinical concerns, below are some of the Evidence Based Practices that Connections draws from to assist the students in mastering the skills of insight, independence and healthy social interaction. • SCERTS - social communication, emotional regulation, transactional support • SODAS - five steps to problem solve anything • STOP - a system for clarifying misunderstandings • BSP - behavior support plans • SSR - Sensory Self Regulation These therapeutic, academic and residential interventions are all based on developing and maintaining healthy relationships. The end goal is to assist students who struggle with relationships to develop self-esteem and self- confidence in their ability to manage healthy interactions throughout their lives. 6



Career Exploration Career Connections is a unique therapeutic aspect of the program that transcends all areas. Students identify their career interests, values and abilities. They then have opportunities to explore them. The career experience exposes the students to other positive people in the surrounding suburban community in which they live. These business leaders and entrepreneurs interact and serve to mentor and encourage the students along the way. As the students engage in career exploration, they become excited about the prospect of independence and the future of becoming a responsible and productive member of society. Career exploration allows: • Allows the students to recognize and internalize strengths • Gives students a healthy and productive outlet for energy • Fosters determination, foresight, courage, and creativity • Provides a real life experience outside of therapy • Encourages resilience |9

The Career Connections training Upon completion of the evaluation, students explore program offers testing, hands-on supervised internships based on the evaluation results. training and experience in the Internships are set up and established based on the individual student’s field of interest. Career results of each student. Some of these internships have evaluations are administered and included opportunities to work in landscaping, graphic design, designed to help students determine law, architecture, aviation, food service, national parks and a career exploration goal by music/audio recording. evaluating their interests, values, Through this fluid exploration process, students can abilities, and social skills. participate in several different internships to help them determine which kinds of career are most appealing to them. After each internship, students receive an evaluation from the staff and the site supervisor. They also rate themselves on their job performance. Then mentors and students work together on areas they’ve identified as needing improvement. 10

Education Connections offers an individualized learning environment where students begin their academic journey from the point they left off—regardless of where that may be. Year-round enrollment and learning means there is no lag time waiting for a school term to begin. Whether the student is preparing for college or to successfully earn high school diploma, Connections has a custom academic program that builds competence and confidence. Many students also enter Connections with an Individual Education Plan (IEP). |11

The Connections academic services are administered through Discovery Academy. As a State, National and Internationally accredited school, Discovery Academy is able to assist each student in their individual academic needs. Parents have been thrilled to see their son or daughter reengage in academics and find confidence in the process of learning. Connections Academics: • Neuro-typical girls and boys attend school during the daytime hours in separate classes and only come together when clinically indicated. • Neuro-diverse students attend school in the daytime hours and have co-educational classrooms by design so they have a more socially normative educational experience. 12



Melanie Evans Director of Admissions 801-592-6155 [email protected]

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