Types of Therapy
Therapeutic Modalities for Individual Therapy
At White River Academy, we strive for an integrated, student-centered, and whole-person centered approach to treatment. As such, we offer many types of therapeutic approaches, specialty group therapies, and complementary strategic activities to enhance the experience of treatment. No single treatment works best. Treatment must address each student’s needs and symptoms. Treatment must consider the student’s age and development, severity of symptoms, any co-occurring disorder, and the student’s ability to participate in treatment. The treatment plan should consider the goals and abilities of family members.
Cognitive behavioral therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy teaches a person new ways of thinking, acting, and reacting to situations and experiences. It can also help people learn social skills, which is vital for treating many disorders and co-occurring disorders. Cognitive behavioral therapy may be done one-on-one (individual therapy) or with a group of people who have similar problems.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a treatment method used to reprocess and heal symptoms of trauma. EMDR is one of the most effective evidenced-based treatment methods for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
EMDR therapy uses bilateral stimulation, right/left eye movement, or tactile stimulation, or sound, which activates the opposite sides of the brain releasing emotional experiences that are "trapped" in the nervous system. This assists the neuro-physiological system, the basis of the mind/body connection, to free itself of blockages and reconnect itself.
EMDR allows a student to process an emotional experience that he/she cannot yet talk about, yet following a EMDR session find an ability to talk about it freely. Most importantly, it can eliminate stress surrounding the traumatic event, with the purpose of allowing new life in the once traumatized and emotionally difficult memory.
Experiential Therapy is a therapeutic technique that uses expressive tools and activities, such as role-playing or acting, props, arts and crafts, music, animal care, guided imagery, or various forms of recreation to re-enact and re-experience emotional situations from past and recent relationships.
The student focuses on the activities and, through the experience, begins to identify emotions associated with success, disappointment, responsibility, and self-esteem. Under the guidance of the therapist, the student can begin to release and explore negative feelings of anger, hurt, or shame as they relate to past experiences that may have been blocked or still linger.
At White River Academy, Experiential Therapy is incorporated into individual, group, and family therapies. We believe that when students engage in a hands on experience, this can reach even the most difficult emotions, and provide an avenue for exploration, processing, and reframing those emotions.
Family therapy helps family members improve communication and resolve conflicts. Family therapy is based on the Developmental Vacation model. As such, family therapy includes psycho-education around adult and child ego states, setting and maintaining boundaries, and disrupting dependencies. Every individual is, in part, a product of the environment they grew up in. Family plays an important role in our emotional, physical and spiritual development since each individual in the family system impacts and is impacted by the others.
Equine Assisted Therapy
Equine Therapy (also referred to as Horse Therapy, Equine-Assisted Therapy, and Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy) is a form of experiential therapy that involves interactions between our students and horses.
Equine Therapy involves activities (such as grooming, feeding, haltering and leading a horse) that are supervised by a mental health professional, often with the support of a horse professional. Both during the activity and after the student has finished working with the horse, the equine therapist can observe and interact with the patient in order to identify behavior patterns and process thoughts and emotions.
The goal of equine therapy is to help the patient develop needed skills and attributes, such as accountability, responsibility, self-confidence, problem-solving skills, and self-control. Equine therapy also provides an innovative milieu in which the therapist and the student can identify and address a range of emotional and behavioral challenges.
Many of the benefits of equine therapy are likely due to the nature of the animals with which the patient and equine therapist are interacting. Horses are typically non-judgmental, have no preconceived expectations or motives, and are highly effective at mirroring attitudes and behaviors of the humans with whom they are working.
While working with horses under the guidance and supervision of an equine therapist, equine therapy patients have a unique and effective opportunity to note their tendency to engage in self-defeating and otherwise negative thoughts and actions. These realizations provide excellent bases for discussion and processing both during and after the equine therapy experience.
Stress-management techniques, mindfulness, and meditation
Mindfulness can be a healthy way to identify and manage hidden emotions that may be causing problems in our internal and external worlds.
Mindfulness and living mindfully means living in the moment and fostering awareness to our current experience, rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future. Mindfulness is frequently used in meditation and certain kinds of therapy. It has many positive benefits, including lowering stress levels, reducing harmful ruminating, improving our overall health, and protecting against depression and anxiety. There is even research suggesting that mindfulness can help people cope better with rejection and social isolation.
These activities rebalance neural networks, allowing the student to move away from automatic negative responses toward an understanding that there are other ways to respond to situations.
By developing a routine meditation practice, students can use the technique whenever they start to feel overwhelmed by negative emotions. When sadness occurs and starts to bring up the usual negative associations that trigger relapse of depression, the student is equipped with tools that will help them replace negative thought patterns with positive.