At Seasons, our program focuses on providing the best possible clinical care for children between the ages of 10-13. Our therapeutic wilderness program is designed to help shed light on the behavioral and developmental needs and challenges that these students face, and work to provide long-lasting solutions. Some of the most common areas that we at Seasons focus on with our students include:
- Self-esteem and self-efficacy
- Emotional regulation and distress tolerance
- Determination and perseverance
- Communication skills
- Personal responsibility and accountability
- Attention and focus
- Social skills
Not only do we strive to work through deep-seeded and complex issues with our students, but we also maintain the integrity of our philosophy to utilize the Clinical Best Practices that will help our students reach goals both individually and with others. In conjunction with using the wilderness as a therapeutic metaphor, we also incorporate numerous additional modalities of care into the Season program, including:
- Cognitive Behavioral Model
- Family Systems Interventions
- Expressive Arts Therapy
- Consistency and predictability
- Social skills building
- Utilizing anti-bullying and friendship-building
- Equine assisted therapy
Seasons Program Level System
Seasons students ascend through a network of levels designed to challenge and encourage emotional and physical growth. Each level has a specific objective and developmental focus, yet allows for the particular needs for each student. Levels correspond with the Hero’s Journey in the Chronicle of Jumping Mouse, a story read to students when they enter this group. As students’ progress through the levels they begin to see themselves as the Hero who although faced with obstacles, is brave enough to venture from home, battle adversity, learn about them and use their knowledge when they leave SUWS.
- Mouse: At this level, the objective is Personal Responsibility. The student is typically concerned about his physical needs and safety. The developmental focus is the Awareness of what surrounds him. While learning physical wilderness skills (making fire, setting up camp, rationing food), students experience frustration, impatience, anger and sadness. With the accomplishment of physical skills, self-esteem and self-efficacy begin to develop.
- Raccoon: At this level the objective becomes Respect for others, and the developmental focus is Students begin to ask for help with daily tasks. The events that ensue at SUWS allow students to recognize their ability to cope with struggles; and while challenged many times, they are reminded by staff and peers of their personal achievement.
- Frog: At this level, the objective is Determination, and the developmental focus is Confidence. Students’ courage increase as they accomplish more goals (making fire and traps), and they begin to put more effort into the general milieu of being in the wilderness. Hiking is a usual practice at SUWS, and the student, for example, may become more willing to tackle increasingly challenging terrain. He may have accomplished the ropes course.
- Buffalo: The objective at this level is Patience and the developmental focus is Responsibility. Students realize they are part of a community. They are willing to make sacrifices to help other students, perhaps to make a meal, or support another during a ropes course challenge. In so doing, there is less concern for immediate rewards, but rather contentment within.
- Wolf: At this level, the objective is Trust and the developmental focus is Responsibility. Students begin to trust in relationships formed and learn strategies to sustain them. While specifically taught relational skills, trial and error, such as in equine assisted psychotherapy, also teaches what works and doesn’t work to get needs met.
- Eagle: Lastly, students reach the level of Eagle in which they demonstrate Leadership in their wilderness family. Students are able to envision long term goals that incorporate all they have learned from each stage and they begin to develop a plan to fulfill them. They begin to motivate others to develop and engage with their own goals.
The hero’s journey does not end here, however. Rather it is the beginning of another quest in which the hero returns home, but is changed.