White River Academy is a residential treatment center, nestled near the Great Basin in Delta, Utah. Unlike typical residential treatment center, White River Academy offers autonomy-cultivating and integrity-centered rearing for troubled boys between the ages of 12 and 17. The students foster personal growth through a mix of individual and group therapy, positive peer culture, experienced activities, community service and a customized educational curriculum. The location of the academy allows students to avoid problematic situations and continue treatment for any mental, behavioral or substance abuse problems.
Families play an important role in the students’ treatment as the structured environment away from home helps students overcome their problems. We have devised a structured system for family communication to ensure the right balance of family involvement and independence in the students’ treatment.
It is common for parents and guardians to remain in contact with their son during treatment. However, the son needs communication that does not interrupt his progress and treatment. The system in place allows for a student to know he is loved, while giving him space to adjust to the therapy.
Parents or guardians are welcome to write letters or emails to their son as much as desired. Students are encouraged to write home on a regular basis and are given 15 minutes of focused writing each day. Students will not be able to use a phone or receive phone calls for the first 30 to 45 days in order to disrupt any existing maladaptive relationship patterns. Once the son has adapted to his treatment program, parents and students are allowed to communicate through phone calls scheduled by the parent liaison. Phone calls are a privilege based on the student’s progress in therapy and includes a maximum of one phone call per week with a 10 minute time limit.
Parent liaison and online portal
The parent liaison plays an important role in helping families as parents or guardians will have a scheduled phone call with their liaison every two weeks; the first one occurs 24 hours after their son arrives. The parent liaison will inform parents of their son’s experience at White River Academy and act as a point of contact in case of an emergency. Parents or guardians also have access to a secure online portal where they will find updates on their son’s progress, including his report card. The portal also acts as a safe form of communication between parents or guardians and students.
The important relationship of a student to his family is incorporated into the program through family therapy. Family therapy can occur during a family weekend, which happens several times throughout the year and in some one-on-one therapy sessions. If applicable and beneficial to the student’s progress, parents will be included in the session through a phone call. Parents or guardians will be able to begin repairing the relationship with their son through therapy and other methods during treatment. The therapist will contact the parents or guardians once a month to update them on their son’s progress.
Families are encouraged to attend quarterly family weekends hosted at the academy. Family weekends allow parents or guardians to spend quality time with their son and visit parent training seminars. The seminars include intensive training to help parents or guardians implement a healthier, stronger and more productive relationship with their son. Learn more about the Parent Seminars here.
While visits to the facility are welcome during the quarterly family weekends, nonfamily visitors need to be approved beforehand by a parent liaison. The nonfamily guest being allowed to attend is dependent entirely upon the son’s progress and his therapeutic curriculum. Visits outside of the family weekend and visits home can be scheduled, but must be approved by the parent liaison and also vary upon the son’s condition.
The transition from White River Academy back home requires a strong familial bond for success. Students have two opportunities through home visits to put the focus of their treatment into practice. Parents or guardians will be supplied with the skills to prepare for their son’s trip home from their son’s parent liaison, therapist and parent seminars.
It is crucial the son re-enters a supportive home as the world is full of triggers and temptations, which can lead to his relapse. The son needs encouragement to continue living the lifestyle built at White River Academy; a job the parents or guardians can be trained to fill from the parent seminars.
Families can gain additional support with several strong aftercare programs to help with the early phases of their son’s transition home. These programs and options will be introduced in the last quarter of a student’s program at White River Academy. With these tools and strategies, parents will be able to feel confident in their son’s transition home.