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Our Clinical Program
The clinical program at Ironwood School and Residential Treatment Center (RTC) is the bedrock of our success and the lifeline for our students. Ironwood is honored to employ a team of therapists with diverse backgrounds and training creating a unique breadth and depth of clinical expertise. When a student arrives at Ironwood, he or she is matched with a therapist who immediately begins a thorough research about the student, their family and seeks to uncover hidden facts and patterns of the student, their history, and their family. Great care is taken by each therapist as they seek to form a healthy and trusting relationship with the student and their family.
Customized Therapy That Works
Each therapist creates and manages a unique and tailored treatment plan for each student that is comprised of comprehensive physical, mental, social/emotional, behavioral, and academic assessments. The treatment team, which includes therapists, teachers, direct care staff, and nurse, all participate in the creation of this multidisciplinary plan which is the guidepost for staff to ensure the objectives and goals are understood and met in relation to the student and their family. The therapist meets with the child twice a week for individual therapy and once a week for family therapy. Teens also participate in group therapy sessions throughout the week. Read more about Ironwood's Addictions Group. Our therapists utilize various clinical modalities based on the needs of each student and incorporates such things as cognitive behavior therapy including dialectical behavior therapy skills, solution-focused therapy, addiction and substance abuse counseling, animal therapy and motivational interviewing techniques.
Encompassing those modalities is the perspective of developmental psychology and assessing where each adolescent is on the maturity continuum. Members of the teen’s treatment team meet on a weekly basis to discuss and evaluate the student’s progress and ensure goals and objectives are being met. Read more about Ironwood's Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).
Intensive Therapy Gets Results
Intensive therapy is the foundation of Ironwood’s impressive success in working with troubled and underachieving teens. At Ironwood, therapy is founded on the basis of relationships – relationships of trust, truthfulness, confidence and humor. When students are willing to engage in a trusted therapist – then learning, change and growth can begin.Therapy takes many forms and is conducted in various locations: Walking or hiking along the path of trees through campus, on a trail ride, sitting on a bench next to the pond, around a campfire or in the therapist’s office or with a variety of animals, wherever the greatest result can be achieved.
Ironwood’s licensed therapists have a broad range of experience and expertise. From substance abuse counseling to dialectical behavioral therapy to our renowned animal-assisted therapy and most everything in between, Ironwood’s skilled therapists are both current and competent.
Ironwood’s therapists are far more involved and are a more integral part of the program than elsewhere as evidenced by their offices being situated near the living areas where interaction is both frequent and comfortable. For instance, therapists spend time with students in their living areas, leading groups, talking with staff, and eating meals with the students. We have found that when it comes to relationships with students, proximity and frequency underscore a healthy, respectful and trusting atmosphere.
We believe that every youth that arrives at Ironwood deserves the utmost respect, with caring and quality treatment. We also believe that every family deserves consistent, honest and open communication. To ensure that each student has the maximum opportunity for success after graduation from Ironwood, we provide various parent education modules both during and after the student’s placement to ensure the parents and family have both identified and internalized new parenting and life skills before the student returns home. Online classes, webinars, blogs and teleconferences are all part of the therapeutic offerings we provide each parent and family.
Student Mentor Program Highly Popular Among Teens
Lastly, Ironwood is proud to provide our students with the opportunity to return back to the program and participate as a ‘mentor’. Our Student Mentor program has a significant positive impact on the student both during and after enrollment. The Student Mentor program provides additional motivation for teens to achieve goals while in the program as well as after graduation. Student mentors at Ironwood continue their own academic studies as well as continue to participate in various therapeutic activities and interact with students and parents under the supervision of Ironwood staff. Once approved and accepted, each student mentor is allowed to come back free of charge. To read more about the Student Mentor program, please read our Mentor Blog.
We Are Proud of Our Success Stories
Two success stories that come to mind are recent graduates. The first is a seventeen-year-old girl who came to Ironwood after participating in other studential residential treatment programs, hospitalizations, and being expelled from private schools. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and was angry; and she disliked everyone and hated and distrusted therapy. Many times, she stood up after ten minutes in therapy and angrily demanded to be excused from the session. During the time she was at Ironwood, she benefited from all aspects of the program, including the clinical component. She gradually got off all her psychotropic medications, then the diagnosis of bipolar was ruled out and, she learned to trust others and to be a leader to her peers. When she graduated recently, she was on the best of terms with her therapist, she exited the program a mature, lovely, well-spoken seventeen-year-old with confidence and excitement about starting college in January.
Another success is a fifteen-year-old boy who was diagnosed with ADHD. Before coming to Ironwood, his parents, at the instruction of their therapist at home, had tried to control his impulsive, oppositional behaviors by taking everything away from him. He had no door on his room, and they took his clothes away at night so he would not sneak out. He snuck out anyway in order to break into his own basement and watch TV all night. He had few friends as his behavior was so erratic and he tended to be abrasive at times. He was highly impulsive and oppositional and took no medication for ADHD. It was many months of working with him to help him to use cognitive behavior techniques to control his impulsiveness, and let go of the anger and oppositional behaviors toward authority. Underneath all the behaviors was a very intelligent youth with a gift for words and for music. Here is a recent email from his mother:
"We wanted to thank you for all you did for our son. He impressed all our family and friends at the wedding. They all thought he has really changed. He gave a toast at the wedding that had people rolling on the floor. His cousins kept an eye on him, rather than gave him drinks. He was a good best man for his brother and helped to make the wedding a success."
You can read additional letters from parents here. Our students arrive at Ironwood angry and hating the place, but they leave loving Ironwood and asking when they can return. Our clinicians stay in touch with students and their parents after graduation for a period of time, helping the transition and providing support and phone counseling. We truly care about the outcome of each and every one of our teens.