Our Clinical Approach to Wilderness Therapy

Individual Treatment Planning

Youth TreatmentDuring the first 2 levels the therapist collaborates with the parents and student to design a comprehensive individualized treatment plan, documenting the following:

  • Areas of behavior to be addressed
  • The goals targeted for achievement
  • The incremental objectives the student is expected to complete
  • The methods for evaluating the students progress

Each week the treatment team meets to review the plan and make any needed adjustments. This ensures that the student continues to progress toward treatment goals and successful completion of the program.

Towards the middle of the students enrollment, the therapist makes recommendations regarding the type of environment and clinical support the student will need following discharge from the program. Though these recommendations typically include the type of program, degree of structure, and other services that the student may require, parents are encouraged to work with an educational consultant who can help them identify specific schools or programs to meet the students needs.

Family Therapy

Family therapy is an integral part of each students treatment program. The assigned therapist facilitates three or more in-person, face-to-face sessions that include the parents:

  1. On the day the student arrives with their parents: The initial session includes the parents and the therapist and affords parents the opportunity to share their concerns and hopes for their child.
  2. Halfway through the program: An in-person family session often occurs after an off-campus, overnight visit with the student, which is an important opportunity to compare progress in the program to progress within the family system.
  3. On the day the student graduates from the programThe final session typically addresses transition planning, behavioral expectations, and future growth. 

In between these face-to-face sessions, weekly family therapy is conducted via telephone or video conference calls. These sessions begin with the therapist providing a progress update on the students performance in the program. The student then joins his/her parents and therapist on the telephone/video conference to discuss treatment goals as well as any concerns or problems, thereby re-establishing or improving positive, respectful communication within the family system.

The Parallel Process and the Summit Parenting Program

Each family will receive a digital copy of our Summit Achievement Parallel Process Parent Curriculum as well as a copy of the book, “The Parallel Process” by Krissy Pozatek, MSW,  upon admission of their child to Summit.  All families will also have six sessions of parent coaching during their child’s stay at Summit with Nick Faraldi, MSW, our Director of Parent Support who will help guide parents through the Summit Achievement Parallel Process Parent Curriculum.


Summit Achievement Parallel Process Parent Curriculum

Our innovative Summit Achievement Parallel Process Parent Curriculum was designed by the renowned author and parent coach Krissy Pozatek, MSW.  Our leadership team and clinical team have been trained by Krissy Pozatek to help implement the new curriculum and integrate the parallel process concepts into our program.  Just as students move through six levels in our Achievement program, parents will also move through six levels with guidance through our Director of Family Support; so parents have an opportunity to grow alongside their child.  Through the next year, Krissy will continue to advise us through monthly supervisory calls with staff to oversee the implementation of the Summit Achievement Parallel Process Curriculum at Summit.


Group Counseling and Therapytherapy (2)

Group sessions are facilitated by program guides every day of the week, usually in the evening. Guided group discussion is used to:

  • Settle problems
  • Give individuals feedback
  • Complete assignments given by the therapist
  • Evaluate performance

When a student has a problem, it is dealt with in the immediate context of and with help from the group. All the group members are affected and therefore have a stake in the resolution of the problem. This is a time for students to practice assertive communication, speak honestly and respectfully, listen to feedback, and recognize and share emotions. Whether offering or receiving feedback, this challenging process assists students in better understanding their interpersonal relationships and the impact their behavior and emotions have on others. It is through the repeated use of this group process that students develop the greatest insight into their own behavior.

In addition to the daily group processing sessions, there is one group therapy session per week facilitated by the primary therapist. This therapy session focuses on a variety of topics each week. It may focus on the dynamics of the group or a specific issue that several members of the group are struggling with, such as anger management, conflict resolution, negotiation skills, substance abuse, dealing with loss and grief, or other topics.

Individual Therapy

Students meet weekly on campus with their assigned therapists for a one-hour individual therapy session and will see them frequently in the campus community, as well as on expedition. These sessions may focus on individual treatment issues, assistance with improving communication with family members, difficulties in interactions with peer team members, problem behaviors within the program, or other topics. As the student progresses to upper program levels, these sessions may be utilized to explore potential discharge and educational directions, and any fears or concerns that may exist regarding the students transition plans.

Substance Abuse Counseling

Some students have been involved in drug and alcohol use to the point that their use became a problem, impacting school performance, relationships with family, and, at times, resulting in contact with legal authorities. For these students, Summit Achievement offers drug and alcohol education, strong recovery support, and opportunities to attend AA meetings in our local community. Counseling focuses on providing the student with a working knowledge of the symptoms, cause, effect, and healing of chemical dependency. Students explore the definition of addiction, triggers for drug and alcohol use, steps to recovery, and relapse prevention planning.

Clinical Supervision on Expedition

Approximately every three weeks the therapist accompanies students on expedition for a 24-hour period. Participating as part of the group on expeditions allows the therapist to interact with the students in a less formal setting and further develops the connection between each student and the therapist. This experience also affords the therapist an opportunity to observe each students functioning within the peer group, including demonstration of problem solving and negotiation skills, communication patterns, and his or her role within the group. These observations are helpful to the therapist in providing the student with constructive feedback during individual and group therapy sessions.

Medication ManagementYouth Treatment

Summit Achievements Medical Director can provide an evaluation of psychotropic medication. In most cases, students taking psychotropic medication at the time of enrollment are maintained at the previously prescribed dosages. The medical and program staff are trained to administer medication to students and to recognize adverse or allergic reactions. Program policies do not allow any student to self-administer any medication. Summits physician, who is on site each Tuesday, reviews each students medication. Should there be any recommendations or concerns regarding a students medication or dosage, the medical staff will contact the parents immediately. Summits Medical Director is available to collaborate by telephone with a students prescribing physician as needed. Summit is required to have its physician review each childs medication every 30 days.

Neuropsychological Testing

All students admitted to Summit Achievement are evaluated for depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. At times a more extensive evaluation may be recommended by the therapist or requested by parents or an educational consultant working with the family. In these instances, Summit Achievement can arrange for a full neuropsychological assessment, which includes a full spectrum of psychological, personality, and academic testing administered by a licensed professional. While Summit Achievement does not provide this service on our campus, we work with experienced psychologists from around the country and can assist in making arrangements.  Please speak with the Admissions Department or your childs therapist at Summit for more information about this service.

Have Questions?

If you have any questions about the application process, please contact our our Admissions Director Shannon Palentchar through the Admissions Office by phone (207) 447-9450 or through our inquiry form.