Last summer we shared about our new family integration therapy program that would provide additional services to our youth and their families throughout their time on campus and up to a year following their discharge. Our hope was to increase their long-term success as they transitioned from residential treatment to their next placement.
The program has been in place for nearly a year. Here’s an update from Emily Frazier, LISW-S, clinical director of our children’s residential center on how the expanded services have impacted kids and families.
What have we learned about offering family integration services?
We have learned that the need for family support is enormous. We have learned how trauma tends to be generational and that parents are vilified when they’re really doing the best they can with the hand they’ve been dealt. We have seen that the more support we provide a family (through education, help with parenting, support and being an ally), the better equipped they are for their child to return home and to be successful long term. We’ve also learned that the on-going support in the community (in the form of check ins, referral/connection, etc.) is an invaluable part of securing long-term success for kids and for their families.
How are adoptive/kinship/bio families engaging with the family integration therapist?
We have had an overwhelming response to this service! Often, families are relieved to have someone listen to them, validate their concerns and help them to better understand their child. Often, they have negative viewpoints of those in a “helping” role. The goal of the integration therapist is to be an ally to the family. To address issues and problems where they exist, but to also build on the already-existing strengths of the family system. As they build relationships with the integration therapist, they open up about their own issues/struggles and problems. This allows the therapist to assess and refer for appropriate services. Families are also more receptive to feedback from the integration therapist as they have a strong therapeutic alliance; this contributes to a greater desire to work towards the common goal of returning the child home.
How are family integration therapists connecting with kids and families away from Wooster?
Zoom has been an incredible tool to stay connected with kids who either live a substantial distance from our campus or due to COVID-19 restrictions. Our integration therapists continue to do home visits/check ins, even for kids who live far away. Our integration therapists have even attended school plays and sporting events of former residents to support and continue the connection.
Our next post will highlight youth who are thriving in their new homes because of these services.