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Therapeutic Approach Overview

White River Academy residential treatment center for adolescent males has a track record of successfully helping teenage boys with behavioral, substance abuse and psychological disorders.  The therapeutic approach used at White River Academy is based on a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). These techniques, supplemented by other treatment modalities, are applied at White River Academy on an ongoing basis to produce lasting change.

Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on change

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a goal-oriented treatment approach that focuses on the relationships between thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Using this approach, teens learn about the connection between distorted thoughts and how they affect daily behaviors. This approach involves working collaboratively with the adolescent to help him gain control over his counter-productive thoughts and actions.

The goal of CBT is to find healthy ways to change destructive thought and behavior patterns. Negative thought processes are often established early in life and become habits as individuals become older. These habits result in unhealthy behaviors and poor choices.

Research has demonstrated that CBT is an effective form of treatment for emotional and behavioral issues, and mental health problems such as mood disorders (including anxiety and depression), as well as substance abuse disorders. Studies have found evidence that CBT actually alters activity and chemistry in the brain.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is effective for a broad range of issues, such as:

Dialectical behavior therapy teaches self-control

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a specific type of CBT that emphasizes the psychosocial approach to treatment. Individuals who benefit from this approach are those who have abnormal emotional reactions to normal stimuli — people who tend to react more emotionally than the average person in certain situations, particularly those involving friendships and romance. DBT focuses on regulating these emotional outbursts and providing the necessary tools to diffuse high-arousal levels of activity.

Group therapy, individual therapy and role playing are all part of DBT, in which patients learn soothing techniques to reduce their anger and develop tools to enable them to have lasting, healthy relationships. Treatment focuses on the development of skills such as mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotional regulation and distress tolerance. Through DBT, students begin to understand that everything is connected and change is constant.

DBT has proven to be particularly effective as a treatment for adolescents with multiple dysfunctional behaviors, as well as those who:

White River Academy

White River Academy specializes in the use of CBT and DBT, combined with a range of other treatment modalities, to give boys the skills and competencies to handle their issues with maturity and poise. This prepares them to reach their potential as men.

For more information, or to enroll your son today, call our 24/7 helpline to speak to someone on our admissions team.


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We would like to thank all the wonderful staff at WRA for the great parent weekend. We enjoyed it and felt that we learned valuable insights on Positive Peer Culture and the values we must have and the importance of family commitment to each other...

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