Objectives at Approach

Safety Phase: The goals of this phase are to orient the client to the overall program and assist in adjustment to the treatment milieu. Our intention is to set each client up with a basic set of skills and expectations that will support their ongoing success in the program. This is also a time for assessment and establishment of basic goals. Our staff work to ensure that our students are supported to have a safe transition into the program.

Individual Phase is aimed at assessment, goal setting, and self-reflection. While these goals are maintained throughout the program, Individual Phase is a time to establish a base-line level of self-awareness and recognition of the patterns that were limiting the individual prior to the Approach Program.

During this phase, clients read and reflect upon the “Impact Letter” with staff, their therapist, and group of peers. This is intended to prompt self-reflection and introspection. Many clients within the Approach Program lack self-awareness and insight about themselves or their habits. As a result they may have numerous entrenched patterns they do not understand. Moreover, clients in Approach often struggle to identify adaptive means of getting their needs met which reinforces their maladaptive patterns. This is a time in which they reflect on who they are as an individual, which supports appropriate identity development. Intentional time is spent identifying a person’s strengths while also examining “areas to grow.” This allows for a balanced and healthy view of oneself while strengthening the overall person.

As clients identify patterns they want to address, together (with their therapist and staff members) will identify and develop goals aimed at addressing these areas. Each client progresses at their own pace to ensure individualized care and adequate time to begin developing adaptive functioning skills. Lastly, clients are taught specific skills linked to the following:

• Executive function
• Self-soothing
• Emotional awareness
• Emotional regulation
• Self-expression

Community Phase is aimed at examining an individual within the context of relationship to others. This occurs on multiple levels including the immediate context of the group and then relationship to family, friends, and others outside of SUWS. Within the group, this becomes an intentional time to identify and develop appropriate social roles and leadership skills. An emphasis is placed on the individual becoming a leader in a way that natural reflects their strengths while developing skills needed to compensate adaptively.

A significant part of community phase is aimed at social skills assessment and development. Social cognition and pragmatic skills are linked to the individual’s goals. A significant portion of this is also aimed at improving effective communication skills. Each individual will serve in a variety of group “jobs” that allow for the development of specific skills they need. Lastly, Community Phase is a time for consolidating an individual’s growth and how to apply this to other contexts such as home and school

Responder Phase is intended to provide clients with additional leadership opportunities. A primary focus is social responsibility and making proactive decisions given all of the previous growth at SUWS. While leadership and service serve as the cornerstones of Responder Phase, there are also additional wilderness skills taught by staff. This is also a time in which clients are encouraged to apply all of their growth and knowledge in preparation for pending transition. Responder Phase serves as a capstone for the entire program. While not all clients graduate in Responder, it is highly encouraged and staff work to assist students completing their goals to reach this phase.

Certified Responder is in recognition of clients who go “above and beyond” programmatic requirements. This symbolizes a level of mastery in both the wilderness portions of the program alongside of the personal and therapeutic growth.

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