Building Relationships and Psychological Safety
New Haven’s program is developed from established principles in the fields of psychology, education and social services. It is best described as an integrated Psycho-Educational Program that incorporates principles of Trauma-Informed Care.
These conceptual foundations are described below.
The foundational principle of our treatment program is that growth, change, and healing occur in the context of relationships. The fundamental first step is developing a trusting relationship with the youth and his family, without which no lasting change will ensue.
The program creates and maintains a safe environment so that residents and guests feel physically and psychologically safe. A safe physical setting coupled with healthy interpersonal interactions promote a sense of safety for residents.
The program is solution focused rather than problem focused. A focus on problems leads to attempts to “fix” the resident or the family and reinforces the family as bad or incompetent. Focusing on solutions builds on the desired goals and keeps the attention on the primary treatment goals of the client and family.
The residents are supported in shared decision-making, choice and goal setting to determine the plan of action they need to heal and move forward. Residents are supported in cultivating self-advocacy skills and increasing their chances to play an influential role in the decisions that affect them.
The program is based on recognizing strengths rather than dysfunction and builds resiliency. Identifying psychopathology sometimes leads to blame towards the family feelings of being wrong or “sick.” Identifying strengths that builds upon prior successes establishes a positive framework for treatment to commence.
The program and treatment are conducted with transparency to residents and their families as well as staff with the goal of building and maintaining trust in the treatment process.
Treatment focuses on developing new skills and helping youth change his self-perception rather than curing illness. The mastery of new skills, helping the youth see himself differently, being provided choices to develop autonomy and opportunities to give to others are universal needs, the fulfillment of which support healthy development.
When reunification is the goal, family therapy and family involvement is the main focus of treatment. It is rarely the case that successful reunification is possible without family involvement in the process of change. Family involvement promotes being involved in developing solutions that reestablishes their ability for independence and continue the gains they and their son have made once residential treatment has ended. Working with the whole family is critical to successful residential treatment.
Transition planning begins at the outset of treatment and utilizes community resources for optimal transition and exposure to productive growth. Transition planning will also incorporate the resident’s natural supports so that they can maintain and strengthen their connection with their extended family and the community.
Residential Staff and Mutuality
Childcare Workers are with residents 24 hours a day and hold the central role in creating and maintaining a safe, secure, and trusting environment. They are key therapeutic change agents and therefore are part of treatment collaboration for residents. The Childcare Workers are supported, trained and empowered in that role. This parallel process allows the staff to have a shared purpose in treatment and feel safe as much as the residents they support. In addition to Childcare Workers, all New Haven personnel are trained in practices that support a culture of safety within the organization.
Peer Leadership and Support
Adolescents are more responsive to their peers than to adults. Techniques to teach new behaviors must include the role of peers as the resident’s primary reference group. This role must be acknowledged and utilized so that peers become a primary source of positive group norm reinforcement. In addition to leadership, peer support and mutual self-help are key vehicles for establishing safety, hope, building trust, enhancing collaboration, and utilizing their stories and lived experience to promote recovery and healing.
Cultural values play a critical role in the course of treatment. Treatment moves past cultural stereotypes and is responsive to the racial, ethnic and cultural needs of the residents. Treatment also recognizes and addresses historical trauma as well as the healing value of traditional cultural connections.
Outcomes are the sole measure of success. The best concepts and practices have little or no value if the goals of the treatment are not met. New Haven’s treatment program is evidence-based and outcomes-oriented.