We work with each individual from the inside out, not the outside in.
- We work on the premise that improved emotional, social, mental, and academic functioning begins with improved self-regulation and self-awareness in an environment where positive attachments are made. We start our work with each child by establishing positive attachment with minimal demands. This may require 1-on-1 support and managing the level of stimulation in the child’s environment. Only when trust and clinical stability are established, and the child is able to regulate sufficiently with our support, do we begin to increase educational and social demands. All treatment services are offered only when the child is ready. A very valuable and potentially necessary service, if offered at the wrong time, can be ineffective or harmful. Offered at the right time, it enhances growth.
- We understand that the experience of the body can drive the mind – a body out of physiological balance can lead to mental distress. Many people (especially children) are not ready for cognitive-behavioural “top-down” strategies in which they are expected to use their minds to control their bodies. We work using attachment-based strategies, environmental strategies, and “bottom-up” body-based strategies to support these students.
- We use a variety of perspectives and strategies in recognition of the fact that each individual is unique. The same symptomatic behaviour can arise from very different internal and external factors, and so the effective treatment for one child may be very different than the effective treatment for another child, even though they may both have the same diagnosis. We work to improve the child’s personal experience first, rather than just change external behaviour.
- We collect individualized data on multiple aspects of each student’s behaviour (e.g. observed and inferred arousal, relational state with staff, expressed emotional affect, and a variety of symptomatic behaviours). These data allow us to measure progress over time, and with medication, environmental, or strategic changes. Additionally, training ourselves in this moment-to-moment, non-judgmental awareness of the students cultivates mindfulness in our staff. This improves our ability to detect small changes and support the student as early as possible when they are struggling.
- All clinical treatments are offered within the school program so that the child’s life is like other kids. They are not missing school to go to appointments, or going to a number of tutors or therapists after school.
Please feel free to contact us if you would like more details about our approach.