It's All About Relationships
Research has repeatedly shown that when it comes to effectiveness in therapy, relationships matter. In fact, they are paramount. A therapist who can build trust and nurture open and honest communication with your son has a significantly better chance of working through the real issues every day. This is why Vista proudly hires only graduate level, fully licensed clinicians with the experience and ability to connect with their students. Smaller individual caseloads for each therapist allow for more engaging one-on-one interaction and relationship development during the 14+ hours of focused therapy each week.
What Kinds of Students do we work with?
- Self-harm Issues
- Physical, Emotional, Sexual Abuse
- Bipolar Disorder
- Oppositional Defiant Disorder
- Anxiety / Panic Disorder
- Borderline Personality Traits
- Eating Disorders
- Attachment Issues
- Substance Abuse
- Non-verbal Learning Disorders
Types of Therapy
All therapy is designed to bring families closer together. Parent involvement at Vista is crucial to success in the program, and more importantly to your son's continued progress after graduation. While there is an intentional and healthy separation from parents and their son during placement in a wilderness therapy program, this creates a lag in communication as letters are mailed and most contact is exclusively with the therapist. When students move to the residential treatment setting at Vista, however, everything becomes "real time". This allows families to always have a pulse on what's going on.
Weekly Family Therapy
Every week a family therapy session will be held over video conference. Not only does this allow you to see your son very regularly, but it also provides opportunities for his non-verbal gestures and cues to come out - things you can't see in a session communicated over the phone.
The family is the central unit to everything we do at Vista.
The relationship between the therapist and your son can be a critical piece that allows the therapy to comfortably move forward. If there were mistrust or a lack of communication between the two, it would become increasingly difficult for your son to rely on the offered support. This can lead to attempts to manipulate expectations or to be dishonest in therapy. To avoid these obstacles, Vista’s therapists meet at least once every week with their students in an individual session. This nurtures the relationship between the two and facilitates Vista’s ability to maintain firm boundaries with each student while providing consistent and focused support.
In addition to these weekly sessions, it is very common to see your son and his therapist spending extra time together for recreational outings, on campus activities, or even simply enjoying lunch together. Individual therapy is all about the relationship.
1.5 Hours Every Weekday (7.5 hours each week)
Many parents have the unfortunate experience of providing insightful and healthy advice to their son, only to see it rejected and then later accepted from a friend instead. The information is the same, but it appears to be more readily accepted from someone else. During the teen years, adolescents rely heavily on their friends for information, direction, and acceptance. At Vista, this dynamic is used constructively to facilitate feedback and accountability within a peer group. Your son’s initial reaction may be to disregard this feedback, but over time his peers can open doors that even a therapist, teacher, or parent can't generally open.
Vista therapists and counselors run a 1.5-hour group therapy session 5 days a week. While the number of hours itself is not what’s truly important, it does help to illustrate the level of consistency and accountability that is built into the group therapy model. The quality of these peer interactions, guided with the support of Vista’s professionals, allows for group therapy to be an integral part of each student’s growth within the program.
We use evidence based forms of therapy to help students learn to manage emotions and make rational, smart decisions. An overview of each therapy's benefits and methodology is provided below.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy
Dialectical Behavior Therapy or DBT is a therapy designed to help clients manage their emotions and relationships. It is a concrete set of skills that help clients stay on what's called an "emotional baseline". It works particularly well with teenagers because of its tangible, specific actions a person can take to solve emotional problems. The four main groups of skills include:
- Interpersonal Effectiveness
- Distress Tolerance
- Emotion regulation
DBT asks people to complete homework assignments, role-play new ways of interacting with others, and to practice skills such as soothing yourself when upset. The individual therapist helps the person to learn, apply and master the DBT skills to successfully manage emotions and relationships.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is based on the idea that our thoughts cause our feelings and behaviors, rather than external things such as people, situations, and events. The benefit of this fact is that we can change the way we think to feel and act better… even if the situation does not change.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is considered one of the most efficient forms of therapy because it works quickly. It is highly instructive in nature due to the fact that it makes use of homework assignments.
Cognitive-behavioral therapists believe it is important to have a good, trusting relationship, but that is not enough. CBT therapists help clients change by teaching them how to think differently and then act on that learning. Clients learn rational self-counseling skills to become their own "mini-therapist".
Vista's Core Works of Methodological Reference:
- Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy: A Therapist's Guide, Second Edition. By Albert Ellis.
- Cognitive Therapy: Basics and Beyond. By Judith S. Beck.
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy in Groups. By Peter J. Bieling, Randi E. McCabe and Martin M. Antony.
- Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder. By Marsha Linehan.
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy with Suicidal Adolescents. By Alec L. Miller, Jill H. Rathus, Marsha Linehan and Charles Robert Swenson.