Clinical Philosophy

happy teen after completing Mental health therapy programsAt Auldern Academy, we believe the therapeutic relationship is the most important factor in helping students overcome their struggles. This therapeutic relationship isn’t confined to what goes on between your daughter and her therapist alone. We define it as the collaborative relationship between the student, parent, and our staff. To gain a real understanding of your daughter and successfully influence change, our therapists, teachers, student life coaches, administration, cooks, and maintenance crew – everyone – has to help create a therapeutic milieu that supports your daughter in every aspect of her life. We have to work synergistically to create a safe environment where we can address emotional, psychological, social, and educational needs of the entire community.

We have a lot to do. Auldern Academy students have been struggling to live safely and productively at home. Synergistic family involvement is critical to the success of our students. Our entire community works together to encourage and support the development of integrity, character, self-respect, autonomy, self-efficacy, maturity, resiliency, and healthy decision making. We ALL have to build an environment that feels safe, positive, and affirming, so we can arm our students – your daughters – with a stronger sense of self and confidence.

Our therapists are at the core of creating strong and genuine therapeutic relationships, guiding all of us in our understanding of your daughter and her needs. Their therapeutic alliances empower our students with the skills necessary to recognize and create healthy coping and emotional regulation skills. Their example helps students develop healthy and positive relationships. This doesn’t happen overnight, of course, and the “progress” may come in spurts, but the trust that is built with their therapists facilitates the beginning of healing. We provide weekly family sessions as we understand that engaging families in the student’s therapy is integral for success.

When clinically appropriate, our therapists will select the best treatment models to help the students address their clinical needs. We offer therapeutic services specializing in:

  • EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitizing and Reprocessing)
  • DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy)
  • RODBT (Radically Open Dialectical Behavior Therapy)
  • CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy)
  • TFCBT (Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy)
  • Satir transformational systemic therapy
  • Parent coaching
  • Group therapy
  • High conflict family therapy
  • Subtle yoga
  • Family based treatment
  • Interpersonal psychotherapy
  • Solution focused therapy
  • Motivational interviewing therapy
  • Gender and sexuality/sexual orientation
  • Therapy enhanced with our Canine Good Citizen, Mr. Magoo

These therapeutic techniques are used to treat a variety of issues and challenges including:

  • Performance anxiety
  • Trauma in children and adolescents
  • Phobias and panic/anxiety disorders
  • Adoption/attachment issues
  • Procrastination
  • Communication, relational issues
  • ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) and other behavioral issues
  • Self-esteem
  • Gender dysphoria
  • Excessive self-control or over-control
  • Issues with food, weight, eating disorders, body dysmorphia
  • Chemical dependency
  • Relationship issues
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Substance use
  • LGBTQ identity

We see therapeutic success measured in the following skills improvements with our students:

  • Mindfulness, being present in the moment
  • Mind/body connection
  • Emotional regulation
  • Interpersonal effectiveness
  • Relaxation techniques

At Auldern Academy, we offer a variety of therapy program types and structures including:

  • Conjoined parent/student sessions (1 per week)
  • Individual student sessions (1 per week)
  • Group sessions (3 per week)
  • Separate sessions as needed for divorced families (1 per week)
  • Zoom video sessions as needed
  • Group and individual substance abuse counseling

Individual Therapy

Auldern Academy students attend individual therapy sessions with their assigned therapist a minimum of one time each week. Our highly-trained and experienced clinicians use a variety of therapeutic modalities including but not limited to: Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Solution-Focused Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and Insight-Oriented Therapy. Auldern Academy therapists are actively involved in our students’ day-to-day lives, so it is common for students to “check in” with their therapist throughout the week, outside of their formal therapy session. Most students come to Auldern Academy acting out in unproductive, unhealthy, and detrimental ways yet they present as if they are in complete control. This acting out behavior is often an outward expression of inner struggles. In general, the focus of therapy is to help our students move from an external locus of control to an internal locus of control where they begin to take personal accountability for their past, present, and future behaviors.

Group Therapy

We offer a variety of group therapy sessions at Auldern Academy, with most students attending three to five groups per week.

Groups offered at Auldern Academy include:

  • Therapy Process Groups — Process groups are designed to provide a safe, non-judgmental, and trusting environment for the students to share thoughts, feelings, and beliefs with each other while being guided by the therapist.
  • Topic Specific Groups – Topical groups are offered on specific themes that are relevant to smaller subgroups of students. These groups give students the opportunity to discuss specific issues that they have with peers who have similar struggles. Common topical groups offered throughout the year include: adoption, healthy relationships and boundaries, healthy ways to deal with self-harm, developing healthy self-worth, body image issues, obsessive-compulsive and anxiety issues, grief and loss, emotional survival skills, and sobriety groups.
  • Experiential and Expressive Groups — Many students benefit from therapeutic groups that engage their minds and bodies in more creative and active ways. We offer experiential and expressive groups that allow the students to find healing, express feelings, and grow in their recovery. Common groups offered are expressive movement and dance, art, photography, bibliotherapy, adventure-based groups, and creative writing.
  • Sobriety and Self-Help Groups — Many times adolescents use unhealthy coping skills to manage their uncomfortable internal experiences like depression, anxiety, distressing thoughts or memories. Dealing with these emotional states can lead to unhealthy ways of coping. These patterns often take on a life of their own, at times, leading to drug use and addiction. Common addictive behaviors for students are using drugs or alcohol, overeating or restricting food, sexual acting out, self-harm, and technology addiction. Auldern Academy offers sobriety, support, and recovery groups throughout the week to address these issues and offer insight and healthy coping skills and strategies.

Family Therapy

Family therapy is an essential part of the therapeutic program at Auldern Academy. We include our students’ families from the onset of their treatment, integrating the student’s extended support system in the therapy process.  It is essential to help prepare the family to affirm and support the positive changes the student makes in treatment. Since nothing happens in a vacuum, family therapy helps other family members examine their own issues and problems.

Families come to us exhausted, having spent much of their emotional time and resources trying to support their daughters while their daughters have been living out of control and blaming everyone for their problems. Without adequate guidance, education, and intervention, families tend to repeat dysfunctional, negative patterns of interaction that can interfere and disrupt the gains that have been made by the student throughout their journey at Auldern Academy. Our desire is to work with families to help them move from a focus on change with only individual family members to a focus on change within the whole family system.

Our family program includes:

  • Family participation begins immediately upon admission. The assigned therapist meets with parents for an initial meeting during enrollment to orient the family and engage them in the process.
  • Weekly family therapy – We understand that family life as well as outside influences can take unexpected turns, and that family relationships can naturally weaken under stress. Weekly family therapy sessions start early in treatment and are an integral part of the treatment process at Auldern Academy. Students stay connected to their parents and siblings, with opportunities to repair and strengthen family bonds. If parents are not able to be physically present, the family therapy session is done either via secure video or teleconferencing.
  • Parent education workshops are offered three times a year. Parents participate together in workshops and multifamily therapy sessions. After the parent workshops, if clinically appropriate, the parents have therapeutic visits or passes with their daughters.
    Senior Seminar gives the parents of graduating seniors special support for this major transition.
  • Ongoing collaboration with the parents is critical to the success of each student. Apart from the family sessions, this is done through check in calls between the student’s therapist and her parents to discuss intervention strategies that the parents can practice, as well as to update them on their daughter’s progress.
  • On and off-site therapeutic visits are coordinated with the parents and the clinical team to provide opportunities for the family to practice the new skills they have learned in family therapy.
  • Therapeutic passes off campus to local areas and/or home are coordinated with the clinical team to give families the opportunity to spend meaningful time together and prepare for reintegration back into the home environment and community.
  • As a unique way to provide additional support to parents, Auldern Academy has enlisted the services of professional parent coaches. The parent coaching team is comprised of highly trained and certified parent coaches who are dedicated to partnering with our parents to provide them with ongoing parent-training and parenting skill development. With over 100 years combined experience, our coaches are well positioned to support families struggling with a myriad of issues and pride themselves on offering highly personalized parenting solutions. A parent coach is assigned to each family upon admission. Each family has available to them at least 10 sessions with their parent coach. For more information, follow this link to Parent Coach Professionals.