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

White River Academy Wins Best in Delta School Award

A message from Justin Nielson
White River Academy is the 2016 recipient of the Best of Delta award, which in this case, honors local schools that enhance the small-town positive image through community service. WRA's program director Jason Nielson took time out to share his appreciation for the award as well as his excitement over the 2016 goals the academy's staff has already achieved.

Becoming part of the community

The staff and I here at White River Academy are happy to receive the distinction, and add it to our three other exemplary service recognitions from the city of Delta and the local Bunker Hill Motocross Track.

The Delta Award Program pinpoints companies who have achieved outstanding marketing success locally. For us, marketing is not pursued; it grows organically from rubbing shoulders with community members in sincere service.

When we first began in 2002, I went to the neighbors to listen to what they thought about residential therapy for boys. I heard the stigmas and explained what we do: provide therapeutic positive growth through holistic treatment. 

At this point, people understand White River Academy is an asset to their neighborhood, not a threat. Truth speaks for itself where pretty brochures can't - it naturally works. 

For our students, you can't be self-centered and engaged at the same time. Likewise for residents, when they are standing side-by-side filling sandbags with our young men, natural conversation takes place. They realize these boys are sincere and willing to put in time and effort. People want to get involved with that kind of momentum. As a matter of fact, we have 10-15 volunteers on our staff who go through all the rigor of application and background check just to be a part of what we're doing. 

Enhanced aftercare and postgraduate assessments

We have intertwined our aftercare program with discharge planning. A centerpiece to each boy's rehabilitation is a self-governed service project from design, to fundraising, to implementation. Now, we've woven phases of the student's aftercare into his discharge in incremental doses well before he leaves us. Two home visits, replete with family feedback sessions, are interspersed throughout his service project process. This way, milestones can be achieved naturally and the transition back to home and school life will be smooth.

WRA has also incorporated our emotional outcome tools assessment into aftercare. Now, students are given the survey 30 days after graduating our program and once a month for six months. We aim to give the assessment every six months for two years after they graduate WRA and every other year thereafter.

Initially the kids try to give the answers they think you want to hear, not unlike how adults do on job personality questionnaires. But when they see their development charted, they get encouraged and become transparent. We want to maintain that self-awareness through adulthood.

I'm excited to say we're going through our archives to gather data on alumni from the last 14 years to check in on their development since graduating and see how they've navigated life's challenges.

Other new additions to the program 

We've added a weekly group specifically for sex-related process addictions such as pornography and sexting. Katie Soli, MFT, has made great strides with students in this area. We are improving upon reactive attachment therapy and look forward to adding two dialectical behavior therapy sessions a week.  

We're also preparing to provide monthly webinars by psychologist Dr. Daniel Sanderson for students' families. Sanderson has a wealth of information we'd like to share with struggling parents and caregivers.

Equine therapy is doing remarkable

This alternative therapy provides a level of self-regulation and a return to compassion that is unmatched in other modalities. A horse doesn't care if you have an attitude or roll your eyes or cry. Neither do they respond to aggression. Through grooming maintenance, walking the horses, saddling, bridling and eventually riding, the boys absorb the calm assertive presence of the horses and learn how to set aside their emotions for the good of another. 

We have a partnership with the Delta Wild Horse and Burro Facility; the boys who've participated in equine therapy have assisted the ranch with several service projects and even joined in the recent "Days of the Old West Rodeo!"

We are thankful for the Delta award and are encouraged to keep up the meaningful work WRA is doing here in Utah!

M E D I C A L  N E W S

A case study on two fatalities caused by overconsumption of Imodium reveals a recent and strange trend in drug addiction: An increasing number of opioid addicts are resorting to abusing the over-the-counter antidiarrheal medication, with potentially lethal results.

Why do some people in the same family get sick and others do not? Until recently, scientists explained that such differences were attributable to either nature (genes) or nurture (environment), or some indescribable combination of both.

C L I N I C A L  N E W S

Some Psychiatrists Worry About New, Chewable ADHD Drug

Is the latest ADHD drug a new, enticing drug of abuse? Or is it simply another way to help children who are coping with a stressful disorder?

Adzenys XR-ODT is a drug that combines d- and l-amphetamine, two central nervous system stimulants that can help mitigate the symptoms associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)..

F E A T U R E  N E W S

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA), formally known as juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), is one of the most common chronic diseases in childhood and the etiology is unknown to date. This childhood arthritis is highlighted by joint swelling, fevers, and a salmon-pink skin rash. 
Book Review: 
Understanding Genetics, Mental Health and That 'It Didn't Start With You'

He grew up never understanding that when mom disappeared for three months, it was because she was in rehab again. When he was old enough to understand, he started to notice other signs: the hidden "water" bottles, mom's weird behavior that started in the afternoon, the intense fights between his parents that seemingly took place for no reason.

As an adult, he learned from his mom's struggle: He has yet to pick up at drink at 30 years old, the smell of alcohol makes him cringe, and he helps his friends keep safe when they drink. But did he choose this lifestyle because of his past or did he choose it because he is afraid of becoming his mom?

Genetics play a huge role in mental health disorders and substance abuse and addiction. Study upon study has been written about this and whether it is a matter or nature or nurture. The fact is, it can be one or both, and it likely started years and years before the child in the story above was affected. 

F R O M  T H E  A R C H I V E S

How Social Media Affects Mental Health and our Perception of Reality

Video gaming has made a sport of shooting people, overshadowing the reality of such actions. Shows and movies demonstrate immoral actions as casual, avoiding the consequences of these behaviors. Magazines boast digitally adjusted perfect women, distressing the average girl as to why she doesn't have perfect skin or body.

Does such exposure through the media influence our thoughts and behavior? Yes, it does.

F E A T U R E D  E M P L O Y E E

Featuring: Cathi Adamson


Department: Academics

Position: nbsp;
Substitute teacher

Join the Army, go undercover

Cathi Adamson served 20 years in the Army doing clandestine work. She retired as a Sgt. First Class, E7. "It was either join the Army or go to jail," she says of her decision to enlist. She admits to having a stay-away-from-home problem
 when she was young. The decision changed her life.

Linguist with a twist

Adamson is a substitute teacher at White River Academy. She started in January, teaching a variety of subjects three days a week. She lives in Fillmore, Utah, about 35 miles from the school.

Anyone who has done substitute teaching knows the students' modus operandi is to put one over on the new guy or girl. Adamson says she doesn't have that problem at WRA. No doubt her previous life as an Army interrogator girded her for quelling any riotous behavior.

Adamson speaks German, Chinese, Polish and a smattering of Arabic. "I wanted to learn languages," she says, and achieved a "secret" level of experience working as an interrogator. She entered the Army in 1974, during the Cold War. Stationed in Germany for most of her career, she canvassed the streets looking for anyone who spoke German and Polish and who possessed information, offering asylum for anyone who had useful intel. She would spend five years in the field and then return stateside to teach interrogation techniques for three years, then return to the field and repeat the cycle. She retired as a master interrogator, the highest rank attainable for an interrogator.

After leaving the Army, she picked up Arabic working as a contract interrogator in Iraq in 2005 and again in 2008. "You can't trust the interpreters," Adamson says. It was a good thing to learn enough Arabic to know the interpreter was saying the right thing.

Gentle persuasion

Interrogation techniques are a tremendous asset for a substitute teacher. Adamson doesn't waterboard students or deprive them of sleep. But she does possess empathetic listening skills and the ability to de-escalate situations. She also is quite adept at using reason to "guide" students to her way of thinking.

Keeping students on track is the most difficult part of her job. "The ability to focus is absolutely a teenage problem," she says. "Our boys have a lack of concentration in spades." It helps that most of the teaching at WRA is one-on-one. Adamson says most classes have 10 students of different ages and varying skill levels. She is wary is showing favoritism and stays vigilant about dividing her time equally. "Mostly, they just want someone to listen," she says.

You have to love what you do

Great teachers love to teach. The most rewarding part of her job? "The students," says Adamson. "I love them. They're smart; they're nervy. Combine their street savvy with education and these boys can go anywhere."
F A C I L I T Y  U P D A T E S  A N D  
S T U D E N T  A C T I V I T I E S 

Community involvement: Students helped a local dairyman cover his silage, replaced a dugout roof at the local baseball field and visited the elderly at a nearby care center. They also helped to clean up outside the local community center.

White River has had two group competition activities so far. One group was rewarded with a movie and pizza party, the other was rewarded with a fishing trip.

One student has planned an executed a 30-mile bike ride.

Upcoming service projects: In July, the students will continue to work on the food bank's ramp and the elementary school's planter boxes.
S T A F F  A D D I T I O N S

White River welcomes Robyn Prows as the Head Chef 

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275 West 100 South, Delta, Utah 84624

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