We think everyone would agree that the world feels a little different post covid. Maybe people are feeling the impact of being so disconnected for such a long time, maybe we’re emotionally tired from carrying around so much stress and caution for so long. Certainly most every segment of our society is seeing increased rates of anxiety and depression, whether it’s in the schools, workplaces, and even at home. And nowhere do we see it more than in online forums.
While we are so lucky to continually hear from past students about the happiness and awesome lives they are now living, recently we’ve also seen an increase in negative online reviews about the different CERTS Programs. We are also seeing and hearing about the recent increase in negative reviews from our colleagues that work at other schools and programs across the country. We acknowledge that and how scary that can be as a parent, student and even for our employees. This has been disheartening at times, given that everyone who works at any CERTS Program does so to truly try and help others, and to be a positive contributor to the lives of teens who are all working on challenging issues. So to occasionally hear that some prior students did not appreciate the help or worse yet, claim that it was intentionally harmful, is heartbreaking.
Reports have been made that students and families who have had a positive experience have chosen not to share their experiences on certain social media forums out of fear of retaliation. Often previous students and parents post positive comments that are quickly attacked or their comments are removed.
There is also a typical and a healthy response to mental health treatment which is the desire to move on to the next chapter of your life. We often experience that students and families want to focus on the next steps of their lives and not focus on their previous treatment. Therefore, their positive experiences are not always reflected in online reviews.
Being away from home is hard and healing is painful, no matter what. It makes sense that some students might look back and denounce the efforts to help them. We carefully make sure the care and treatment at the CERTS Programs is compassionate, ethical and transparent, but we also know we can’t control how a person opts to experience it or reflect back on it. Mental health is a tricky science. Mental health professionals and programs can create a structure and opportunities for people to heal. Still, it is in the student’s control how they use that structure and opportunities and how they sustain what they learn in therapy throughout their lives.
We are a group of professionals, many of whom have licenses and educational backgrounds that have taught us to recognize the signs of abuse, neglect, and trauma. We would never knowingly let our students, who are here to heal, experience those things at our hands. We are here to heal, not harm. CERTS comprises many wonderful people who have dedicated their careers to helping our students and their families. People who grow with us, learn with us, and lead with us to create an environment where families can learn, heal, grow, and connect.
We are strongly dedicated to hearing feedback both positive and negative, to try to remove defensiveness, and evaluate it to see if there is anything in it that we can use to improve. Improvement only comes by having an open mind and heart and a willingness to shift where needed. We have been (and continue to be) open to inviting and evaluating feedback about our schools, and we review them in our Directors and Team Meetings with an open hearted question to ourselves: “Is this true? Even if it isn’t, could it have been experienced as true? Is there something for us to look at here? And, what can we do with this?” From feedback we are continually making intentional shifts in different departments and approaches at the different CERTS Programs. We want to continue to amplify the things our past students have loved and appreciated about CERTS, and also see what we can do to improve the parts they didn’t.