Adventure Based Treatment; Warren, NH
Mount Prospect Academy’s Adventure Based Trauma Informed Treatment program’s core treatment strategy is Adventure Therapy. MPA at Warren implements an action-centered treatment philosophy that uses activities including but not limited to: participating in a challenging ropes course, rock climbing, backpacking, biking, and paddling.
The unfamiliar nature of these activities, combined with the sense of community developed during participation, creates a climate where students can challenge their current perceptions and behaviors, affording them an opportunity to transition from maladaptive behaviors to adaptive. In addition to Adventure Therapy, MPA at Warren uses various evidence-based practices, including Individual Therapy, Group Therapy, Family Therapy, and Milieu Therapy. There is consistent training and supervision provided focused on assisting all faculty in understanding trauma and the impact that trauma has on child development, mental/behavioral health challenges, and the need to create a trauma informed and safe milieu.
MPA at Warren~ Adventure Therapy is successful because, unlike other therapies, it involves fun, interesting activities and experiences. These activities support healthy energy release and provide students many opportunities to build skills in a controlled, safe environment; Adventure Therapy seeks to create a physical challenge or perceived risk to assist students in stepping out of their comfort zones promoting growth and an increased sense of competency. The sense of overcoming this challenge or perceived risk through teamwork and perseverance can be significant in eliciting desired behavioral changes and promoting a change in self-identity. Debriefings after an activity can help reinforce the importance of positive behavioral changes, which are synonymous with psychological healing and the development of protective factors.
During the initial treatment period, we seek to individualize treatment plans and ensure that interventions are responsive to student strengths, needs, and risk levels. Our assessment tools may include Child and Adolescent Functional Assessment Scale (CAFAS), Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI-A), Trauma Symptom Checklist, Jesness Inventory Revised, and a litany of other measures when appropriate. As we begin implementing the treatment plan, we typically do not aggressively engage students in traditional psycho-educational therapy approaches. Our first goal is developing a trusting, therapeutic relationship with the student especially considering that many of our students have had a history of struggling within the therapeutic process. Our aim is getting the student to trust our treatment team and feeling safe within the current milieu. Once this hurdle is cleared, our focus shifts to helping the student develop the skills and resiliency needed to return home or to alternative living arrangements.
Our students tend to be non-traditional learners who struggle with teacher-centered instruction. MPA students often succeed with hands-on, experiential learning, and their successes in this arena lead to more trusting relationships with teachers and caregivers. MPA’s curriculum provides students with opportunities to advance in the general curriculum of their sending school districts, which are considered critical stakeholders in our program. All students follow the general education curriculum standards of their designated grade level as defined by the New Hampshire Department of Education. Students are enrolled in the appropriate academic classes as defined by their sending school district’s graduation requirements and MPA’s recommendations. MPA strives to develop student interests in real-world career paths and provide curriculum that is relevant. As such, MPA provides students with opportunities to advance in the general curriculum from their sending schools and we use work-based learning experiences to foster a sense of responsibility and diligent work ethic.