How We’re Different
Family First Adolescent Services believes that effectively treating an adolescent client demands a different approach and intensity of therapeutic services compared to the typical treatment model for adults. Our treatment is tailored specifically to teens, and taps into our clients creativity, vitality and sense of community.
Our more tactile approach to teen-specific treatment uses a variety of therapeutic approaches including NARM™, a specialized approach to healing developmental trauma that focuses on a healthy connection between body and mind, and an experiential program that teaches teens to connect fun with self-care.
Each week, our clients work through their healing process with us during scheduled individual therapy sessions and family therapy sessions guided by their primary counselor, as well as group therapy sessions. A teen’s need for support doesn’t necessarily follow a schedule which is why our clinicians, including Master’s level therapists, are onsite and available throughout the day to address issues as they arise.
Family First Adolescent Services embraces the entire family in the healing process, offering specialized support to parents and guardians. We also provide an intensive communication schedule between family and staff so that you stay current with your teen’s progress throughout their stay with us.
Each client sees their primary therapist for five individual therapy sessions within the first seven days.
Clients have constant access to our staff with a 2:1 staff to client ratio.
Clients complete focus weeks to address anger, impulse control, spirituality, shame and low self-esteem.
Clients benefit from weekly therapy sessions, case management sessions and educational planning sessions.
Parents hear from our staff a minimum of three times per week with updates on weekly therapy sessions, case management and educational planning.
Clients and their families receive twelve months of follow-up support.
We are the only treatment center focused on NARM, which allows us to address PTSD as well as other developmental disorders and trauma.
What is NARM?
The NeuroAffective Relational Model™ is a therapeutic approach to healing developmental trauma that helps establish a healthy connection between body and mind. It explores an individual’s emotional connection and functional organization, their identity and sense of self, puts the focus on the present, and teaches clients regulation of their nervous system.
Many traditional models of psychology are regressive. They focus on the past by bringing awareness to the client’s disorganized and dysfunctional characteristics. The NeuroAffective Relational Model™ (NARM™) is non-regressive and focuses on the present parts of self that are organized, functional, and coherent. The ultimate aim of NARM™ therapy is to improve the client’s emotional self-regulation while strengthening interpersonal connections.
The goal of the NeuroAffective Relational Model™ at Family First Adolescent Services is to improve our client’s emotional self-regulation and strengthen their interpersonal connections. Our experience helping teens has shown that the best way to heal developmental trauma is to give clients the ability to respond to the ongoing demands of everyday interactions by using a range of emotions that are both socially acceptable and emotionally sustainable.
- Integrate relational orientation with nervous system-based therapy.
- Use somatic mindfulness to anchor self-regulation in the nervous system.
- Acknowledge psychological effects on the body by accessing the body’s self-regulatory capacities – retrain nervous system responses.
- Inquire into deep identifications and counter-identifications that we understand as our identity.
Dr. Heller goes on to outline the way that the NARM™ approach uses physiology and psychology to treat individuals who have experienced developmental trauma. Treatment acknowledges the interaction between self-identification and an individual’s capacity for connection and emotional self-regulation.
- Emotional connection and functional organization
- Exploring identity
- Focusing on the present
- Nervous system regulation
The NeuroAffective Relational Model™ lays out five developmental life themes that are necessary for healthy emotional self-regulation. These themes affect our ability to be present to ourselves and to others.
- Connection: In order to feel a sense of connection and belonging in the world, we must be in touch with our bodies and emotions. This strengthens our connection with others.
- Attunement: Knowing, understanding, and recognizing our needs is necessary in order to accept the abundance that life offers.
- Trust: We must develop an inherent trust in ourselves and in others. This paves the way for healthy, interdependent relationships.
- Autonomy: It is important to establish healthy boundaries for ourselves and for those around us. We must be able to say no when necessary. Learn to be honest without guilt or fear.
- Love & Sexuality: In order to foster healthy relationships our hearts must be open. Only then will we be able to truly integrate a loving relationship with a vital sexuality.
Base Clinical Programming
Our Base Clinical Programming is a series of assignments designed to bring awareness to the relationship between a client’s inner conflicts and the strategies they have used to avoid addressing them.
The Banyan Egg is a two-part exercise that incorporates a visual display of clients’ perceived family system, personal beliefs, and major life events. The first part of the exercise clients are provided a template, worksheet, and counselor assistance to take an inventory of emotional pain in their lives, and begin to identify and challenge the belief systems created during those times. Once complete, clients present their egg to the group. In the second part, clients have another session with their egg where they flip it upside down to draw a visual display of those who they feel “carried” them through rough times.
Sharing the large pieces of their past, clients give their peer group and our clinical staff insight into other potential barriers that the client may face in daily life. This process is important for clients to understand that treatment is about both major issues as well as things that seem small but can have a significant impact on recovery.
This assignment focuses on survival mechanisms and how clients protect themselves in relationships. Clients create a paper maché mask decorated with art that represents the ways that the client protects themselves against perceived threats.
The love letter is a template that helps clients put into words their emotional experience of themselves and others. This exercise serves as a gateway for clients to understand the implicit intention of their emotions, moving from anger to sadness to regret, and finally landing on what it is that they truly want for themselves.
Creation Of An Action Plan
Clients create a discharge plan with their counselor and family that outlines the continuing care plans for both the client and the family upon discharge. The plan includes treatment recommendations, boundaries in the home, and consequences that are family-driven if the client does not maintain appropriate behavior after treatment.
Paired with a peer, clients review which four aspects of themselves they feel must change to achieve success after treatment. Clients create a visual display of the behaviors or attitudes that need to change and hang this as a poster in their room. If a client reverts to these behaviors or attitudes, their peer puts a checkmark on the poster. This exercise helps clients track their emotional and behavioral progress.
Parent Interaction Program
When one member of the family is struggling with mental health, substance use, or behavioral health issues, the entire family is affected. Treatment at Family First Adolescent Services also embraces parents and guardians in a healing process.
Our three-day Parent Interaction Program focuses on the deeper issues within the dynamic of the family system. During the program, parents experiencing similar issues work together to identify attitudes and behaviors that can help shift the family towards greater health and well-being.
Experiential Group Therapy
- Expressive Art Therapy
- Addiction, Gabor Mate, MD and Johann Hari
- Shame & Empathy, Brene Brown, PhD
- Codependence, Pia Mellody
- No-Drama Discipline, Dan Siegel, MD