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B E H A V I O R A L  H E A L T H  N E W S 

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Unparalleled Standards of Care at White River Academy
A Message from Dr. Daniel Sanderson

White River Academy has used the last year to reset and reintroduce our fundamental principles. This has been helpful for the boys and a nice opportunity to refresh the staff on what sets us apart.

White River Academy is one of the rare behavioral health facilities in the nation that successfully utilizes Positive Peer Culture (PPC), a technique that relies on peer-driven development of dignity, responsibility, self-worth and significance through positively helping and caring for others.

We guide students using the Developmental Vacation model, which defines troubled teen behavior. This model holds that children may get older, but they will never grow up when they are enabled by loved ones or allowed to indulge in substance abuse and behavioral disorders.

Remember what we're all doing here

Parents may think they're providing "support," but intervening after a desperate, pleading letter home actually stalls their son's progress. Stay the course and be mindful of what you want for your son's future.

A troubled teen has historically been in charge of the parent/child relationship with his manipulation, drama or rebellion. Even when sincere, a parent's intervention can hinder the child's development.

When a child is sent away, whether it be to residential treatment like White River or to live with another family member, together we're committing to disrupt negative, entitled and manipulative behaviors that have become a danger to the young man's future.

But that disruption is only successful to the extent the parents allow. There will be pushback, but take the New Year as a reset button: withstand the pushback and use your energies on becoming your best self.

When a child vents to parents back at home – or to nonclinical support staff – it's that adult's role to not be a receptacle for the boy's drama.

find your wilderness

In 2017, I encourage you to stay busy learning different ways to interact with the teen, give yourself permission to be OK while your loved one is away.

I've got a resolution for you. Practice modeling the adult you want to see in him: a self-possessed, independent adult. You can mirror the longing and painful moments missing each other and still be OK, handling your discomfort and going on with your own life.

Remember key phrases to put the onus back on your growing young man instead of criticizing or enabling:

  • "What are you saying that you need?"
  • "What will you do?"
  • "Hmm, I see," then move on in the conversation.

Simply put: Find your wilderness. I'm a psychologist, but I'm also an avid outdoorsman, and my practice has taught me whatever nature is in your region – the coast, the desert or the mountains– getting out there is when we're being revealed.

When you're out there, it's just you and whatever is in your head. Pursuing new experiences in nature shows you who you are. On a psychological level, nature is immutable; we respond to it, but it cannot be influenced by our whims.

2017 therapeutic goals

Our main goal is to keep the culture going in the same direction. The staff here is truly amazing, resilient and adaptable.

I've always had a goal of having a fully functioning PPC program: with engagement at more of an experience-infused, adventure-based level of activity abroad. When we have a group of students coalesced and healthy enough to expand service and experiential exercises outside of Delta, Utah, then PPC can really flourish.

We've had tastes of experiential autonomy in previous years: WRA students have coached little league football and tutored elementary students. I'd like to do even more in the coming year.

In 2017, we aim to fully embody PPC. When the boys are using this clinical technique productively, they will get a healthy dose of social training through it and support from their peers to stay positively engaged.

In the New Year, the boys are organizing a Valentine's Day social with a young ladies treatment facility nearby. Practical exercises in self-control, fellowship and innocuous fun are healthful and wise to master before the students go off into the real world.

 M E D I C A L  N E W S

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Why Marijuana is Blowing Cigarettes Away

Although it is still classified as a Schedule I substance, the popularity of cannabis has never been higher in the United States.By state law, the drug is allowed for medical use in 23 states and completely legal in Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska. READ MORE

 C L I N I C A L  N E W S

Art Therapy to Ease the Mind
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Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet, Andy Warhol and Berthe Marie Pauline Morisot are all astounding and famous artists that have left permanent brushstrokes on the world’s heart and museum’s walls. Art is a beautiful form of expression that allows emotions and skill to come together. It is an expansive form of study across the world and is now used as a therapy tool. READ MORE

• F E A T U R E  N E W S •

How to Improve improving-after-the-holidays-attitude.jpgPost-Holidays Attitude

Christmas anticipation begins even before Thanksgiving, when stores begin putting up trees and decorations to get people into a shopping mood. Once Thanksgiving is over, the ramp-up to Christmas begins in earnest. The season is filled with plans for family get-togethers, parties, shopping and the anticipation of Christmas Day. READ MORE

• F R O M  T H E  A R C H I V E S •
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What To Do When Medications Are Too Expensive

Over 8 million teenagers were taking psychiatric drugs as of 2013, about half of whom are being treated with stimulants for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Others seemingly require antidepressants, antipsychotics . READ MORE

• P A R E N T  T E S T I M O N I A L S •

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of Sobriety

“It seems so appropriate to tell Walter’s story now,” says Sarah W., mother of 19-year-old Walter G., as August 26 marks her son’s three-year anniversary of leaving for White River Academy. It also marks his third year of sobriety. As her account of the last several years unfolds, a dramatic story READ MORE

• F E A T U R E D  E M P L O Y E E •

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Featuring: Mandy Mason, CNA
Location: White River Academy, Delta, Utah
Department: Support Staff
Position: Fundraising and social media specialist

Mandy Mason is a young and refreshingly conversational mother of two young children, who works as support staff full time for White River Academy.

She became a certified nursing assistant and later obtained her phlebotomy license in working toward her nursing degree. "But once I started working at WRA, I decided that I wanted to go into psychology. I stopped the medical stuff because I love what I do now.

"I'm a support staff, but I am now starting to help with all the boys' fundraising for their service projects." As with most White River staff members, Ms. Mandy wears many hats and sometimes they overlap. "It's kind of nice because you can see where you fit. You do a little bit of everything, but you kind of fall into different areas where you're strong at."

Strength in numbers

A gregarious young woman already active on social media, Ms. Mandy found she could utilize her own social media platforms to promote WRA student fundraiser participation and sponsorship. Since the students don't use social media, Ms. Mandy has become their extension ­– putting the boys in touch with the community and organizations at a more efficient volume than just door-to-door fundraising.

One relationship she's facilitated is fundraising, refurbishing and buying goods and services for a nearby domestic violence rescue center.

"My goal is to have the boys come and deliver this stuff and hang out with the [rescued] kids and interact. Some of our kids were foster kids or have been adopted; they have their own struggles, and it's good for them to see who they've been helping. One boy now wants to purchase used bikes and fix them up – I'm hoping to make this an ongoing outlet for giving.

"This is the best job I've ever had. It can be stressful sometimes, but I love getting to interact and work with the boys. There's nothing better. They have their problems, but they're still teenage kids at the end of the day, so sometimes if you just can have a conversation with them or spend time teaching them something new, you've made a change."

Ms. Mandy is teaching a surprisingly scarce technique in young millennials that is mutually cathartic.

A soft transition

Ms. Mandy loves spectator sports and playing softball. She says a number of students who come to White River have rarely, if at all, touched a baseball before.

"I'm really surprised that a lot of them have never really thrown a ball around ever. They kind of grew up with just video games, so I've taught quite a few of them the basics of how to play softball. I help the boys in our annual softball league, before or after the games. They really appreciate someone going out with them." She affirms the feeling is shared.

"I'm used to teen boys being fairly athletic, and oftentimes our boys just don't know where to put their energy. I'm just showing them they can take negative energy somewhere else, and it can help them. There are a lot of times where I've had just as much fun as they have because I get to get out there and do it with them. It's like 'I get paid to go do this. This is amazing!'"

What inspires Ms. Mandy to help others

Ms. Mandy says that although she's a female in her 20s, the young men at White River respect her position as a staff member. "They're all really good with me. Plus, I know how to tell the signs if a guy is lying or manipulating or trying to get their way not really caring about anyone else's feelings." She says she's able to nip that behavior in the bud because she's been there before.

Before working at WRA, Ms. Mandy found her way out of a difficult relationship with her children as her guiding light and motivation. She says, "I've always had the urge to help people, and that's not always a good thing. But with my children and these boys, my help is in the right hands."

 F A C I L I T Y  U P D A T E S  &  S T U D E N T  A C T I V I T I E S 

⇒ On a reward outing, one of the groups tested their deductive skills by participating in an "escape room" interactive maze experience at "Get Out Games” nearby. 

We hosted our annual WRA Christmas Party early December. Staff and their families mingled with other families, co-workers and students. Santa made an early holiday appearance

⇒ One of our students decorated a tree for Delta’s Festival of Trees for his small service project. His theme was “There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays,” and he decorated his tree in honor of America’s military branches with homemade and hand-stitched decorations. He sold his tree for $475. All of the money goes toward the Central Utah Food Bank and Toys for Tots.

⇒ Another group of boys went on an excursion to pick out the WRA live Christmas tree and after hauling it to the facility, decorated it and the facility quite nicely.

⇒ White River had our annual Christmas party at the Delta Community Center. Staff, their families and students enjoyed a prime rib dinner and another visit from Santa Claus. The choir students performed a few Christmas carols and all students played “Christmas Bingo.” Each student won new hats and gloves for the winter.

⇒ Four WRA choir students performed in the Delta community’s “Messiah” mid-December.

⇒ All WRA students enjoyed caroling around the Delta area.

 S T A F F  A D D I T I O N S 

⇒ White River also congratulates Mr. Landon Scott, former support staff, in his new position as group leader!

WRA welcomes Mr. Allen Houston as swing support staff! He is responsible for monitoring the boys on outings.

⇒ White River Academy welcomes Mr. Brandon Jorgenson as night support staff!

 A  N O T E  F R O M  T H E  M A N A G I N G  E D I T O R 

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Sincerely,
Rachael Mattice, Managing Editor for Sovereign Health
 

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