Treatment Overview

Treatment Approach

At Uinta, we approach treatment by taking into account that each girl is a unique individual with a distinct set of skills, strengths, and characteristics. We can help her recognize and utilize these to overcome her personal challenges. This strength-based approach empowers young women to take control of their own treatment.

If a girl believes that she has the control to manage her own life, she will have the strength and confidence to make positive changes and abandon victimhood. Developing a girl’s internal locus of control, fostering self responsibility and accountability, and restoring empowerment are key elements to Uinta’s treatment approach.

Individualized Treatment

Uinta Academy creates a comprehensive, cohesive treatment plan for each girl by looking at the whole person, not just the difficulties that she is experiencing. The treatment plan assesses and brings together the cognitive, emotional, psychological, and social aspects of her life. By using a variety of research-validated approaches that support women’s mental health, we ensure that each girl is provided with the type and level of treatment that is best suited to meet her unique needs.

Integrated Therapy

Your daughter lives in a network of interconnected systems that encompass herself, her family, peers, school, and community. Problems in any of these systems may have impeded her success. The integrated therapy approach at Uinta creates a whole cohesive treatment plan that coordinates all of these systems in order to support her healing. We believe that the normalized, family-style environment at Uinta is an important tool in assessing where a girl may have challenges. The strengths that she displays in some areas of her life may be used to facilitate change in other areas of her life.

A treatment team member from every system (clinical, academic, residential, medical and recreational) meets every week to discuss each girl and coordinate efforts in her behalf. We also engage the family system through weekly family therapy, monthly visits, and other on-campus events. Uinta’s integrated approach has demonstrated extensive improvements in family cohesiveness and functioning and decreased mental health and social problems in adolescents.

Clinical Excellence and Experience

Every member of the clinical team at Uinta Academy has extensive training and experience in a number of treatment modalities. The Uinta team consists of licensed professionals from all over the U.S. who have a myriad of treatment experiences. This robust clinical care includes the following modalities:

Cognitive Behavioral therapy is a form of psychotherapy in which clients are encouraged to overcome mental health issues by changing unhealthy or counter-productive thought processes, emotions, and behavior patterns. Emotions are a critical piece in helping people deal with their thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs about themselves and the world around them and the behaviors that follow those beliefs. Though behavior change is one of the goals of cognitive therapy, the focus of this form of therapy is on the client’s cognition or mental processes and how unhealthy or counter-productive thought processes negatively impact life functioning.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy combines cognitive and behavior therapies in order to provide clients with positive and healthy mechanisms to handle painful emotions. The benefits of DBT are decreasing high-risk self-harm or suicidal behavior; decreasing behavior that interferes with the quality of life; decreasing symptoms related to trauma, stress, anxiety, and depression; and enhancing self-respect and assisting with goal setting. DBT is based on four core concepts

  • Mindfulness – This is the foundation for the other skills taught in DBT because it helps individuals accept and tolerate the powerful emotions they may feel when challenging their habits or exposing themselves to upsetting situations. Mindfulness is the capacity to pay attention to the present moment with awareness of emotions and thinking errors.
  • Distress Tolerance – The goal is for the individual to become capable of calmly recognizing negative situations and their impact, rather than becoming overwhelmed or hiding from them. This allows the individual to make wise decisions about how and whether to take action, rather than falling into intense, desperate, or destructive emotional reactions.
  • Emotion Regulation – Rather than becoming angry, intently frustrated, depressed, or anxious, the goal is for individuals to identify and label emotions; identify obstacles to changing emotions, reduce vulnerability to the emotional state; increase positive emotional events; increase mindfulness to current emotions; take opposite action and apply distress tolerance techniques.
  • Interpersonal Effectiveness – Interpersonal response patterns taught in a DBT skills training group help the individual with assertiveness, coping with interpersonal conflict and problem solving. The skills taught are intended to maximize the chances that a person’s goals in a specific situation will be met, while at the same time not damaging either the relationship or the person’s self-respect.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is a psychological intervention that uses acceptance and mindfulness strategies, mixed in different ways with commitment and behavior-change strategies, to increase psychological flexibility. The core conception of ACT is that a person’s psychological suffering is usually caused by experiential avoidance, cognitive entanglement, and resulting psychological rigidity that leads to a failure to take needed behavioral steps in accord with core values. ACT views the core of many problems to be due to the concepts represented in the acronym, FEAR:

  • Fusion with your thoughts
  • Evaluation of experience
  • Avoidance of your experience
  • Reason-giving for your behavior

The healthy alternative is to ACT:

  • Accept your reactions and be present
  • Choose a valued direction
  • Take action.

EMDR has shown to be useful in assisting individuals in resolving traumatic experiences. When an individual is emotionally overwhelmed from a traumatic event, the brain cannot process information as it normally does and the emotions associated with that trauma become “stuck.” The memory, including the associated sights, sounds, smells, thoughts and emotions can feel as intense as when the traumatic event actually occurred. The act of remembering may trigger a “fight or flight” response. These memories can have a profoundly negative impact on the way an individual sees the world and how she relates to herself and others. EMDR utilizes bilateral auditory, visual and tactile stimulation (also known as Dual Attention Stimulation, or DAS) while thinking and talking about a traumatic memory. This process helps the individual resolve troubling emotions and cognitively reframe negative belief systems associated with the trauma. Subsequently, symptoms associated with PTSD such as nightmares, flashbacks, panic attacks, depression, feelings of powerlessness and even suicidal thoughts are greatly diminished.

Family Systems Therapy is based in the belief that the family is a unique social system with its own structure and patterns of communication. These patterns are determined by many factors, including the parents’ beliefs and values, the personalities of all family members and the influence of the extended family (grandparents, aunts and uncles). As a result of these variables, each family develops its own unique personality, which is powerful and affects all family members. Within the boundaries of the family system, patterns develop and family members behave in predictable ways. Maintaining the same pattern of behaviors within a system may lead to balance in the family system but also to dysfunction. Any change in the emotional functioning of one member of the family is predictably and automatically compensated for by changes in the emotional functioning of other members of the family unit. This change can push the family toward a different equilibrium. A Family Systems approach in therapy helps the entire family make positive changes in the family system that lead to a healthy equilibrium.

Psycho-educational instruction is a process of imparting knowledge about disorders, therapies, communication styles, and related issues through participative discussions. At Uinta Academy, the psycho-educational component involves teaching the girls about the nature of the challenges with which they are struggling. Psycho-educational instruction occurs individually with girls in therapy and the milieu, and in daily group sessions with the other residents. When an individual is educated, she is empowered and prepared for a successful pursuit of long-term recovery and success.

Smart Recovery supports an individual in abstaining from addictive activities and incorporates components of Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Motivational Interviewing. The goals of Smart Recovery are to help the individual build and maintain motivation to abstain from the addiction; to cope successfully with urges; to manage thoughts, feelings, and behaviors associated with the addictive patterns; and to live a balanced life. Tools utilized by the therapist in Smart Recovery include Cost/Benefit Analysis, Change Plan Worksheet, Hierarchy of Values, ABCs of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, Destructive Imagery and Self-talk Awareness and Refusal Method, Brainstorming, and Role-playing/Rehearsing.

Although originally developed as a method of recovery from alcoholism, the Twelve-Step Process has been adopted to address a wide range of substance-abuse and dependency problems. The Twelve-Step program is a set of guiding principles outlining a course of action for recovery from addiction, compulsion, or other behavioral problems. The process involves the following:

  • Admitting that one cannot control one’s addiction or compulsion
  • Recognizing a higher power that can give strength
  • Examining past errors with the help of a sponsor
  • Making amends for these errors
  • Learning to live a new life with a new code of behavior
  • Helping others who suffer from the same addictions or compulsion

Research has shown that the quality of recovery from all addictive and mental health disorders is enhanced by the many components of the Twelve-Step process, such as mutual support, honesty, accountability, and acceptance.

Uinta Academy incorporates a number of experiential therapy approaches into the treatment process, including ropes course participation, recreational therapy, horticultural therapy and equine assisted psychotherapy.

Experiential Therapy applies to a range of action and movement based forms of psychotherapy and uses activities such as role-playing, outdoor activities, expressive arts, animal-assisted experiences and trust-based activities. During experiential therapy sessions, an individual has the opportunity to experience successes, identify obstacles, develop improved self-esteem and take greater responsibility for her actions. After the activity, the individual has the opportunity to process her emotions and receive specific feedback related to her decisions, actions and reactions. For individuals who have already participated in more traditional forms of psychotherapy (primarily talk therapy in an office setting), experiential therapy can be particularly effective due to its ability to take the individual’s focus off the therapy itself and encourage her to function “in the moment.”

The journey wasn’t always an easy one, but today she is a happy and healthy young woman with a bright future ahead.
Former Uinta Parent