Self-awareness and insight are the first steps in the change process. But for a teen to make a permanent change, they need to connect that awareness and knowledge to every aspect of the teens' daily life. Our therapeutic milieu, or social living environment, was carefully designed to integrate treatment into the girls’ daily life. When a teen is able to use their newly acquired knowledge and skills to experience positive change in their life, their confidence and self-belief will grow and motivate them to reach their goals.
Uinta Academy uses the evidence-based Teaching Family Model in our daily living environment. This model was selected by the American Psychological Association as a “model program in service delivery in child and family mental health.” Uinta uses these empirically validated methods to help youth develop positive relationships and learn and practice new skills. This approach includes skills development, problem solving and mindfulness, relationship development, and self-governance
Teaching-Based Skills Development
While a teen may realize that unhealthy behaviors are contributing to their struggles, they may not know how to change what they are doing. Our Family Teachers are participating in every activity with the milieu and are modeling for them individualized treatment skills, problem solving, and emotional regulation.The Family Teachers help teens recognize when specific skills should be used, help teens practice using them, and reinforce their attempts to engage in healthy behavior. This teaching “in the moment” is a powerful way to help girls experience small successes throughout the day. Along with each teen's individualized treatment skills, the Family Teachers also teach a curriculum encompassing social skills, independent living skills, and executive functioning skills. A teen who has a large repertoire of skills will have greater confidence and success in any life situation.
Problem Solving and Mindfulness
When a teen faces challenges or problems in their day, the Family Teachers use guided problem solving to help them examine options, consider possible outcomes, and make wise choices. Part of this process is helping them be mindful, rather than letting their emotions rule the moment. When a teen is mindful, they acknowledge their feelings but choose to act in a way that honors their goals and promotes healthy relationships. Helping teens manage their emotions and rationally solve problems builds confidence, develops resourcefulness, and helps them manage stress.
Healthy, supportive, and satisfying relationships are the key to each individual's success and self-fulfillment. Our experience shows that acceptance is a key component of adolescent identity development. For this reason, we focus on helping individuals nurture healthy, supportive relationships with adults and peers. Acceptance, empathy, concern, and reciprocity are concepts that are modeled by staff and encouraged among the teens. A teen who is struggling is more likely to accept help in an atmosphere that is warm, nurturing, and accepting. When teens feel connected and supported by adults and peers who are kind, accepting, and interested, they feel emotionally safe and the healing process can begin.
Adolescence is a time when individuals start to take charge of their lives and make their own decisions. We help teens realize that independence doesn’t mean disconnecting from parents and family. We give them age-appropriate freedom to make decisions and try new things while providing guidance and support from the “family.” The teens and staff hold a daily “family meeting” where the teens solve problems together, plan activities, make decisions, give feedback and praise to each other, and discuss all the practical concerns of family life. The teens take the lead in planning and running the family meetings and learn many important skills such as effective communication, giving constructive feedback, problem-solving, resolving conflict, assertiveness, social awareness, and cooperation. The opportunity to have a voice in their life helps teens take ownership of their treatment and their future success.
"We are ever grateful for Uinta Academy and its incredibly talented and caring staff. You saved Lacey’s life and there are no words to express our gratitude."