2021 JOURNEYS MAGAZINE
Adolescent Program Expands Services
The Skyland Trail adolescent residential treatment program at the J. Rex Fuqua Campus is now in its second year of offering evidence-based treatment to teens and their families. We have steadily expanded the number of clients in services.
Our first year, we were able to enter contracts with several managed care organizations to expand access to treatment. In 2021 we also expanded services to military families by contracting with Tricare East through Humana.
In addition to an expanded treatment team, three of the newest services and programs are psychological testing, ecological systems theory, and a weekly family education and support program.
The adolescent residential treatment program is appropriate for teens ages 14 to 17 with a primary mood or anxiety disorder. The typical length of stay is about 12 weeks, and treatment includes evidence-based psychiatric care, integrated nutrition and wellness services, family therapy and education, and academic services.
Specialized Skills Groups Paired with Ecological Systems Theory
Each Skyland Trail adolescent client is assigned to one of two diagnosis-specific core groups: CBT Skills or DBT Skills. Clients meet with their core group each day, Monday through Friday.
CBT Skills core group helps clients who struggle with perfectionism, low self-esteem, fear of failure, or social anxiety learn how to manage stress, balance their own needs with the expectations of others, and confront and reframe recurring negative thought patterns.
DBT Skills core group helps clients who struggle with emotion regulation, anger outbursts, fear of abandonment, or self-harming behaviors learn how to tolerate uncomfortable situations, ask for help or support in healthy ways, and acknowledge emotions without allowing them to drive behaviors.
All residential adolescent clients also participate in groups throughout the week based on the Ecological Systems Theory therapeutic approach. This evidence-based approach helps clients examine their own unique identity and values as well as how they are impacted by and can influence the people, systems, and environment around them. Clients are given tools and support to explore questions about their gender, sexual, and cultural identity; peer and family relationships; attitudes and behaviors related to alcohol and substance use; and their concerns about their role in larger issues such as climate change or social justice.
During the first two weeks of residential treatment, most Skyland Trail adolescent clients now participate in psychological testing with our psychological services team. Some assessments include feedback from parents and guardians. Adolescents complete several tests, including self-report questionnaires, computerized tasks, and some interactive components.
Results of psychological testing are used to clarify a client’s diagnoses and to help match clients with the most appropriate evidence-based treatment (e.g., medication, goals for individual sessions, academic skills coaching, etc.). Standard psychological tests may uncover learning, behavioral, emotional, psychiatric, or cognitive challenges as well as identify strengths that a teen may apply to achieving their goals.
Families may use results of psychological testing after treatment at Skyland Trail to guide continued mental health treatment in the community or to request specialized services or accommodations from schools or other programs.
Weekly Family Program
The Adolescent Family Program provides an orientation to the Skyland Trail treatment program, education on relevant mental health topics, and structured peer support for parents and guardians of clients currently enrolled in the adolescent treatment program. The Family Program is supplemental to weekly family therapy sessions with a family therapist. The Family Program is offered at no cost to parents and guardians. Adolescent program staff provide education about how to reinforce CBT and DBT skills at home, how to set healthy boundaries, and how to find resources to support their own mental health as caregivers.
Trauma and Treatment Outcomes
Outcomes research in 2020 explored the link between a history of trauma and response to treatment.
Approximately 30 percent of adult patients in 2020 had histories of moderate or severe traumas, and individuals with sexual traumas showed statistically significant elevated levels of C-reactive Protein (CRP). CRP is an indicator of global body inflammation, and higher CRP levels suggest overall poorer physical health and treatment response compared to individuals with lower CRP levels.
Based on this research, Skyland Trail is exploring opportunities to use CRP levels and trauma assessments to “predict” which patients will need specific trauma-informed therapies and connect patients with targeted interventions earlier in their treatment.
Land Purchased to Expand J. Rex Fuqua Campus
Thanks to generous community support, including a grant from the David, Helen and Marian Woodward Fund, Skyland Trail recently purchased a 1.99 acre property adjacent to the J. Rex Fuqua Campus for adolescents.
Plans are underway to convert the undeveloped property into additional parking for the campus as well as additional recreational and expressive therapy space for adolescent clients.
We have partnered with HGOR, landscape architects, to help transform this property into a useful and therapeutic space for staff and clients. Plans include the addition of 68 parking spaces, a greenhouse, outdoor amphitheater, and trails.
Construction is scheduled to begin this year and conclude in spring 2022.
DID YOU KNOW? Skyland Trail has received the gold seal of approval from The Joint Commission since 1995.