Category: Parent Education Center

Education Benefits of International Travel

Not all education can and should happen within the classroom. Sometimes, traveling is the best form of education, as students can get a number of personal and educational benefits from travel. From learning about other cultures first-hand to seeing where historical events took place with their own eyes, educational travel gives students the opportunity to deepen their understanding of art, science, history, and culture in ways they never have before. But the benefits of student travel go far beyond the actual subjects taught during the trip.  A wonderful article by son-tours.com shared 10 ways that that students traveling domestically and abroad benefit from their journeys.                                                

Neuroscience of Dance

DANCE MOVEMENT HELPS OUR BRAINS PROCESS  

At La Europa Academy, one of the expressive therapies provided each week is dance movement.  Students involved in this type of expressive therapy, find that they are able to process feelings of depression, anxiety and trauma in a more effective manner as they are moving their bodies.  A recent article in Psychology Today demonstrates the effectiveness of the changes our brain goes through as we dance whether it be through a formal dance experience or through dance movement therapy.  The article shares:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201805/the-neuroscience-dance

The neuroscience of dance is a relatively new, but rapidly growing, field of research. In recent months, a variety of new studies and an article-based dissertation on the neuroscience of dance have been published. These findings help us better understand why we dance and how dancing engages and changes the human brain.

On May 11, Hanna Poikonen(link is external) of the Cognitive Brain Research Unit at the University of Helsinki is defending her doctoral dissertation, “Dance on Cortex – ERPs and Phase Synchrony in Dancers and Musicians during a Contemporary Dance Piece(link is external).” This paper adds fresh insights to the burgeoning “neuroscience of dance” field of study and presents potentially game-changing methods of research that may have clinical applications.

For her dissertation, Poikonen developed novel ways to study various brain functions outside of a laboratory. By using event-related potentials (ERPs) and EEG, she was able to monitor how professional dancers’ brains differ from both the average layperson and well-trained musicians.

One of the main takeaways from her research is that expert dancers display enhanced theta (4-8 Hz) synchronization when watching a dance piece. Previous research has found that theta brain waves are associated with syncing-up deeper brain areas (such as the hippocampus, basal ganglia, and cerebellum) with the cerebral cortex. “Studies of professional dancers and musicians have highlighted the importance of multimodal interaction and motor-related brain regions in cerebral processing of dance and music,” Poikonen said in a statement. “The dancers’ brains reacted more quickly to changes in the music. The change was apparent in the brain as a reflex before the dancer is even aware of it at a conscious level. I also found that dancers displayed stronger synchronization at the low theta frequency. Theta synchronization is linked to emotion and memory processes which are central to all interpersonal interaction and self-understanding.”

Dance has been a universal aspect of the human experience for millennia and is part of our collective DNA. Our bodies and brains have evolved to dance in synchronized unison. And, dancing on a regular basis seems to change the way we think and interact with one another.

In a 2017 article, “A Dancer’s Brain Develops in a Unique Way(link is external),“ Poikonen writes:

“In dance, the basic elements of humanity combine in a natural way. It combines creative act, fine-tuned movement and collaboration, much like playing music. The movement involves the whole body, like in sports. . . Studies on producing music and movement show how during cooperation, the brains of two people become attuned to the same frequency. This is apparent in how the low-frequency brain waves of the participants become synchronised.

Brain synchronization enables seamless cooperation, and is necessary for creating both harmonic music and movement. The ability to become attuned to another person’s brain frequency is essential for the function of any empathetic community.”

Call Us Today

At La Europa Academy, we can help your daughter cope with the effects of ADHD, depression, eating disorders, anxiety and other issues through fine arts-based residential treatment programs. La Europa Academy is a clinically sophisticated, 36-bed, a fine arts-based residential treatment center that specializes in using the arts to help girls ages 13-17 heal and work through the emotional pain. La Europa blends the best of traditional treatment (DBT, specialized groups, small caseloads, outstanding family systems work, etc.) with a focus on the arts including dance movement therapy that allows us to build on our girl’s strengths. Contact us today to speak with our admissions director.

Adventure Therapy Provides Positive Therapeutic Outcomes

Adventure Therapy is a form of experiential therapy that allows participants to take calculated risks and explore personal issues in a safe, supportive environment under the guidance and support of trained and certified therapists.  Adventure Therapy often is done in the outdoors and includes activities such as hiking, mountain climbing, rappelling, camping, mountain biking, rafting and skiing.  While on the surface these activities are fun, they also allow a teen participating in these activities to process emotional issues, addictions, depression, trauma and many other clinical issues.   Spending time in nature has therapeutic benefits in and of itself.  Simply getting outside and getting one’s body moving allows for natural endorphins in our body that help us to boost our spirits and help individuals to view the world more positively.

CAN HELP WITH PROCESSING CLINICAL ISSUES

Adventure Therapy can open doors to healing that other types of talk therapy can not do alone.  While a teen is participating in adventure activities, they are often challenged in ways that help them face situations in their everyday life.  With the feelings elicited during an Adventure Therapy activity, teens can go back to a more traditional talk therapy session and discuss how the experience might be similar to something they are facing.  Problem solving skills used in an Adventure Therapy session can also be processed to help a teen use those same problems solving skills in their daily life.  During adventure activities, therapists can help a teen provide invaluable information regarding patterns of behavior and emotional triggers that increase self-awareness.  Adventure Therapy is a valuable way to help students process deep trauma.  Because trauma can be stored in our body, research done by leading trauma expert Bessel van der Kolk, MD has shown that moving our bodies in a positive way can help us process deep emotional wounds.  Dr. van der Kolk discusses the benefits of Adventure and Outdoor Therapy in his book “The Body Keeps the Score:  Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma.”  At CERTS Programs we often hear therapists say that they best clinical work they do with a teen is when they are hiking, camping, skiing, or mountain climbing with their client.

PRIMARY ASPECTS OF ADVENTURE THERAPY

  • Teens are directly involved and are not passive observers
  • Teens receive therapeutic benefits through processing of experiences
  • Activities are chosen for a teen that teach lessons that then applicable to past experiences and future challenges
  • The experience becomes meaningful because the teen is able to reflect similarities in their day-to-day life
  • Activities enhance personal growth and clinical progress
  • Activities are chosen that teach independence, life skills, team-building and problem-solving skills

CALL US TODAY

Kolob Canyon and Moonridge Academy both provide extensive Adventure Therapy as part of their clinical programs.  Weekly Adventure Therapy occurs each Wednesday.  Additionally a 3-day Adventure Trip is executed on a monthly basis.  Often group therapy involves adventure activities in the form of ropes course work or interactive games.  Therapists are involved in all Adventure Therapy activities.  Call the Admissions Director  at Kolob Canyon or Moonridge Academy for more detailed information.

 

 

 

Age-Appropriate Therapy for Young Girls

When it comes to residential treatment programs, younger girls between 11 and 14 need specialized care. Placing young girls amongst older teenagers can expose them to the behaviors, attitudes and addictions of the older girls. At Moonridge Academy, we combine the clinical sophistication of other CERTS treatment centers with programs that are age-appropriate for younger children.
Age-appropriate therapy includes the following:

Play Therapy

According to the Association for Play Therapy, “Play therapy is the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process where trained play therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help patients prevent or resolve psychological difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development.” Play therapy is a way of helping a child on their unique developmental level. Play therapy works best when used in a safe relationship between the therapist and client, where the child can freely and naturally express positive and negative feelings. This is good supportive therapy for behavioral problems, like anger management, grief and loss, crisis and trauma and divorce and abandonment. It’s also useful for disorders like anxiety, depression, ADHD, autism, academic and social developmental issues and physical and learning disorders.

Sand Tray Therapy

This is a form of expressive therapy that allows children to emphasize what they are feeling at the moment. The patient can use figurines and a sandbox to recreate relationships and scenes in a way that allows her to reveal deep thoughts and feelings. Sand tray therapy was developed in the 1920s by British pediatrician, Margaret Lowenfeld, who found that this method served as a means of communication between a scene builder and an observer. It allows the observer insight into the builder’s inner world.

Equine Therapy and Horseback Riding

Equine therapy is a great way to get in touch with thoughts and feelings. Rather than using the mind to address problems, girls will use their bodies and hearts to feel and react in the moment. Horses know how to sense emotions and will react accordingly. If someone is aggressive or angry, the horse may become stubborn. If someone is anxious, the horse may also get nervous. But when the animal is approached by a calm, open person, it is more likely to respond in a kind, loving way. Observing the horse’s responses promotes self-awareness and helps people see themselves in a more realistic way.

Call Us to Learn More

At Moonridge Academy, we can help your young daughter cope with the effects of ADHD, depression, eating disorders, anxiety and other issues through residential treatment programs. Our programs are structured around DBT treatment, while also combining traditional talk therapy with experiential therapies like equine assisted psychotherapy, to achieve a resilient, more influential change. Contact us to learn more.

Benefits of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy

Equine assisted therapy is beneficial for girls.

At Kolob Canyon, we believe in the power of equine assisted psychotherapy. This form of therapy has been proven to be effective for a wide range of mental health disorders, including addiction, depression, anxiety and trauma. It allows girls to interact with horses and find a new way to connect with them, process emotions and explore problematic behaviors and relationship patterns.

The benefits of equine assisted therapy include:

Identifying and coping with feelings

People who struggle with addictions, trauma and other mental health issues often engage in these behaviors to avoid difficult feelings. They might use drugs or engage in compulsive behaviors like sex, eating, drinking or gambling to numb sadness, anger, fear and even joy. In order for therapy to be successful, the first step is learning to identify emotions, experience them and cope with feelings without trying to escape. Equine therapy is a great way to get in touch with thoughts and feelings. Rather than using the mind to address problems, girls will use their bodies and hearts to feel and react in the moment. Horses know how to sense emotions and will react accordingly. If someone is aggressive or angry, the horse may become stubborn. If someone is anxious, the horse may also get nervous. But when the animal is approached by a calm, open person, it is more likely to respond in a kind, loving way. Observing the horse’s responses promotes self-awareness and helps people see themselves in a more realistic way.

Better communication skills

Girls who struggle with addiction and other behavioral issues tend to be emotionally underdeveloped. They might have difficulty relating or getting close to other people, but it is possible for them to form close bonds with horses and other animals. By working with horses, people realize their conscious and unconscious interaction patterns. Horses are excellent communicators and learning to understand their behavior helps people learn how others function in the world. Simple exercises like haltering, leading and grooming teach people how to approach others with respect and awareness.

Setting boundaries

Working with a horse can quickly expose someone’s inefficient thought and behavior patterns. During an equine therapy session, metaphors can be drawn between a girl’s interaction with the horse and the patterns in her own life. This can address issues like detachment and enmeshment (unclear boundaries in a relationship). The lesson can be as simple as learning how much physical space the horse needs to be comfortable.

Overcoming fears

Horses are large animals, which can bring up fears, past trauma, feelings of inadequacy or lack of control. Regardless of the horse, people often fear that the horse won’t like them, won’t choose them or could hurt them. Rather than giving into old habits (getting defensive or escaping) people learn to tolerate and process the emotion. In this safe environment, clients learn to face fears and build confidence in their ability to overcome challenges.

Call Us Today

At the CERTS Group, we can help your daughter cope with the effects of ADHD, depression, eating disorders, anxiety and other issues through residential treatment programs. Our programs are structured around DBT treatment, while also combining traditional talk therapy with experiential therapies like equine assisted psychotherapy, to achieve a resilient, more influential change. Contact us to learn more.

Benefits of Fine-Arts Based Residential Treatment

Fine arts-based treatment is helpful for behavioral issues.

Fine-arts based residential treatment blends traditional therapy (DBT, specialized groups) with a focus on the arts like dance, yoga, piano, ceramics, photography, painting and more. The arts allow girls to access and release pain in a powerful, creative and safe way, and there are various other benefits to fine-arts based residential treatment.

  • Safety: Art therapy provides safe, confidential space for girls to express themselves. Whether this is through writing a story, painting a picture or composing a song, the arts channel otherwise negative emotions and turn them into something beautiful.
  • Accessibility: Almost everyone is capable of creative expression, regardless of their age, ability or circumstance.
  • Based on strengths: The creative process is all about creating, changing, building and doing. This automatically taps into girls’ strengths, showing them what they are good at and the beauty they are capable of creating.
  • Positivity: Being creative and making art is enjoyable and can positively shift a client’s mood. It’s a great way to escape negative emotions and learn to appreciate the positive things in life.
  • Empowerment: Art allows girls to practice change in small ways. They can prove to themselves that they have the strengths and skills to make bigger changes beyond art as well.
  • Mindfulness: Creating art, whether it’s a painting, drawing or sculpture, requires you to be present and live in the moment. Learning mindfulness is a great way to focus on the here and now and not stress about the past or future.

Call Us Today

At La Europa Academy, we can help your daughter cope with the effects of ADHD, depression, eating disorders, anxiety and other issues through fine arts-based residential treatment programs. La Europa Academy is a clinically sophisticated, 36-bed, a fine arts-based residential treatment center that specializes in using the arts to help girls ages 13-17 heal and work through the emotional pain. La Europa blends the best of traditional treatment (DBT, specialized groups, small caseloads, outstanding family systems work, etc.) with a focus on the arts (dance, photography, ceramics, watercolors, piano, yoga, guitar, etc.) that allows us to build on our girl’s strengths. Contact us today to speak with our admissions director.

Facts about Dialectical Behavior Therapy

DBT is beneficial for behavioral issues.

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) was developed in the late 1980s to help treat borderline personality disorder. Since DBT’s development, it’s also been used for treating other mental health disorders. DBT treatment is a cognitive-behavioral approach that emphasizes the psychosocial aspects of treatment. The theory behind this treatment is that some people are prone to react in an intense, out-of-the-ordinary manner toward certain emotional situations. These situations are often found in romantic, family and friend relationships. DBT suggests that some people’s arousal levels in certain situations can increase more quickly than the average person’s, attain a higher level of emotional stimulation and take a significant amount of time to return to normal arousal levels.

People who are diagnosed with borderline personality disorder sometimes experience extreme swings in emotions, see the world in black and white and always jump from one crisis to another. It can be difficult for people to understand these reactions, so they don’t have methods for coping with these sudden, intense surges of emotion.

Characteristics of DBT

Support-oriented: This helps a person identify their strengths and build on them, creating better self-esteem and a more positive outlook on life.

Cognitive-based: DBT helps identify thoughts, beliefs and assumptions that make life harder. This means transforming thoughts like “I have to be perfect at everything” or “If I get angry, I’m a terrible person” to “I don’t need to be perfect for people to care about me” and “Everyone gets upset, it’s normal”.

Collaborative: DBT requires constant attention to relationships between clients and staff. In DBT, people are encouraged to work out problems in their relationships with the therapist. DBT allows patients to role-play new ways of interacting and practicing calming skills.

Call Us Today

At the CERTS Group, we can help your daughter cope with the effects of ADHD, depression, eating disorders, anxiety and other issues through residential treatment programs. Our programs are structured around DBT treatment, while also combining traditional talk therapy with experiential therapies (equine assisted psychotherapy, art therapy, adventure therapy, music therapy, etc.) to achieve a resilient, more influential change. Contact us to learn more.

Diagnosing ADD or ADHD in Teenage Girls

When teenage girls have ADHD, it can more difficult to spot the signs than it is to notice symptoms in boys. While boys with ADHD tend to have a lot of noticeable behavior problems, girls with ADHD have trouble focusing and completing tasks. Since these symptoms are harder to detect than outward behavior problems, ADHD can go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed for the following reasons:

  • Girls often fall into the harder to diagnose category of “primarily inattentive type”
  • Girls work typically work harder to hide academic difficulties and conform to teacher expectations
  • Girls are often misdiagnosed as anxious and/or depressed
  • Girls who are especially intelligent can mask their ADHD for much longer

Challenges for Teenage Girls with ADHD

The following challenges can also happen for girls without ADHD, but these issues are more intense and more frequent among girls who experience an attention disorder.

  • Social pressures

    Girls who have ADHD can experience social deficits as early as preschool, but the most difficult time typically happens during adolescence. During this stage of life, girls separate from family and their social life takes on greater meaning. Many women with ADHD recall feeling “different” from other girls as they grew up. Their need for peer acceptance during high school is intense and may lead to dangerous or self-destructive behavior in an effort to belong.

  • Low self-esteem

    Family support and acceptance are important, but it can’t counteract the damage that is done when teenagers are rejected by their peer group. Girls with ADHD may develop low self-esteem in high school that will last into adult life.

  • Inability to meet social and academic expectations

    Teenage years are naturally full of self-doubts, but the special challenges of ADHD can greatly intensify those feelings. Girls are stereotypically encouraged to be neat, feminine, passive, controlled, carefully groomed, sensitive to others’ feelings and compliant with adults. These expectations are often completely contradictory of the ADHD tendencies many girls have. A teenage girl with ADHD might respond anxiously and even obsessively to the expectation that she be well groomed and tidy, while also being unable to organize her room or her life to meet those expectations. High school is also the time of life where grades and academic performance starts to matter. As ADHD can make it extremely difficult to focus in school and perform sufficiently, your daughter might be overwhelmingly worried about never making it to college.

  • Depression

    Since social pressure is so intense during adolescence, it can cause girls with ADHD to feel despair when they don’t fit in. Depression often begins during the high-stress teen years and can last into adulthood when untreated. However, depression is easier to recognize and many girls will be treated for depression before they are ever diagnosed with ADHD.

  • Sexual risks

    Teenage girls with ADHD may be at a greater risk for pregnancy than other girls. Girls who struggle with low self-esteem, including those with ADHD, often seek affirmation through the sexual attention of boys to compensate for feelings of inadequacy. Difficulties with impulse control, poor planning ability and inconsistency all make these girls prone to having unprotected sex and/or having multiple partners.

How Can You Help?

If you think your daughter has ADHD, find a doctor who is experienced in diagnosing it. Talk to your child’s pediatrician first if you need direction on where to go next. At the CERTS Group, we can help your daughter cope with the effects of ADHD, depression and anxiety through residential treatment programs. Our programs have a structure based upon Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) while combining traditional talk therapy with experiential therapies (equine assisted psychotherapy, art therapy, adventure therapy, music therapy, etc.) to achieve a resilient, more influential change. Contact us to learn more.

Teenage Drinking: Why It Happens and the Risks it Creates

We can help with alcohol abuse problems.

There isn’t a single reason why teenagers use drugs or alcohol, but there are some common core influences behind the behavior. As a parent, you need to understand the reasons why your daughter is abusing alcohol so you can talk to her and find help.

  1. Other people: Teenagers see other people consuming various substances all the time, whether it’s parents, family members, other adults, or peers drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes and trying other substances. It’s common for teens to start using alcohol because they see other people enjoying it and consider part of the normal teen experience.
  2. Media: Music and movies make drinking and smoking marijuana seem cool. You need to be aware of the influence certain media has on your teenage daughter.
  3. Self-medication: When teenage girls are unhappy and can’t find a way to express frustration, they might turn to alcohol for comfort. It might help them feel blissfully oblivious, happy, energized or confident. The teenage years can take a serious toll on some girls, so when they find a way to feel better, the temptation is irresistible.
  4. Boredom: Teens who don’t like being alone, have trouble staying busy or constantly crave excitement are susceptible to alcohol abuse. It gives them something to do and helps fill an internal void. It also offers a way to bond with other teenagers.
  5. Rebellion: Wanting to rebel against parents and rules is normal for teenagers, but it can become dangerous when alcohol is involved. Underage drinking might give your teenage daughter a rush because she knows it’s not only against your rules, but against the law.

The Risks of Early Alcohol Use

Teenage girls who drink before age 21 are more likely to:

  • Use heavy drinking to escape problems or cope with frustration and anger
  • Drink because of family problems
  • Delay their puberty, as abusing alcohol causes endocrine disorders
  • Have unprotected sex or be sexually abused, putting them at risk for trauma, pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases
  • Be involved in a fatal automobile crash
  • Experience lasting impairment in brain functions like memory, coordination and motor skills
  • Attempt suicide
  • Be involved in violent, dangerous behaviors
  • Develop alcoholism later in life

How We Can Help

If alcohol abuse has become a problem in your daughter’s life and you feel worried about her well-being, we can help. The CERTS Group is a family of specialized residential treatment centers and boarding schools for adolescent girls who are struggling with alcohol abuse, emotional issues, eating disorders, drug abuse and other problems. Our programs have a structure based upon Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) while combining traditional talk therapy with experiential therapies (equine assisted psychotherapy, art therapy, adventure therapy, music therapy, etc.) to achieve a resilient, more influential change. Contact us to learn more.

Addressing Your Teenager Daughter’s Adoption Issues

It’s normal for children to be extremely curious about their adoption stories. When they are young, they will question the circumstances that led to adoption but calmly accept the answers. However, adolescents will usually demand fuller, more factual answers. As a more sophisticated critical thinker, an adolescent might start to wonder why their birth parents gave them up. Was there something wrong with them? Are they unlovable? These feelings can cause even more stress and confusion during a time of life that is already difficult.

Here are some common adoption-related questions your teenage daughter might have:

Why Was I Adopted?

Adopted teens are full of questions like “Why was I given away? Was there something wrong with me? Did they abuse me? Why couldn’t they take care of me?” One of the biggest challenges for adoptive parents is explaining their child’s adoption story. Parents often want to hide the information that is difficult for their child to hear. While it makes perfect sense to want to protect your child from heartache, it’s important that they know the truth during this developmental stage. Sometimes you don’t know the real reason that led the birth parents to give up their child. If this is the case, tell your teen that and you can speculate on the reasons together.

What is the True Story About my Birth Parents?

Young children may be comfortable living with broad, general ideas about their birth parents, but adolescents want the detailed facts. They want to know why and how they were put up for adoption. As a parent, you might be nervous to share information that could be upsetting. But you must understand that when there is a void, teens will start to create their own ideas about their birth parents. These fantasies are often more damaging to their identity than the actual facts. In most cases, the truth will be freeing for your teen. There is no perfect time for sharing difficult information with your daughter. Her temperament and emotional and intellectual maturity will determine when it’s time to process upsetting information. As an adolescent, your daughter has a new cognitive capacity to process information and consider facts and emotions.

Why Do I Feel Like an Outcast?

For most adolescents, whether they’re adopted or not, feeling like an outcast is the worst possible curse. Being adopted can make this sense of feeling “different” and “strange” even more extreme. Adoptees may be of a different race or from another cultural background than their adoptive family, and seeing peers who are raised in biologically related families can make them feel even more different. For these teens, finding a sense of belonging can be extremely difficult. It’s important to address these feelings of being different with your daughter. If she is a different race than you, you need to ask her if she’s been treated unkindly at school because of how she looks. It’s essential to make sure that your teen never feels alone in these trials.

How We Help at the CERTS Group

If adoption issues are causing behavioral and emotional problems in your teenage daughter, the CERTS Group can help. The CERTS Group is a family of specialized residential treatment centers and boarding schools for adolescent girls who are struggling with emotional issues, eating disorders, drug abuse and other problems. Our programs have a structure based upon Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) while combining traditional talk therapy with experiential therapies (equine assisted psychotherapy, art therapy, adventure therapy, music therapy, etc.) to achieve a resilient, more influential change.