One of the best parts about working with adolescents is the significant role they play in the change process for each other. Many parents question how other young people, typically with similar challenges and difficulties, could be helpful to their child in the wilderness. The wilderness group is like a microcosm of the social dynamic at home, with an overlay of therapeutic support and intention. This therapeutic support assists with supporting young people as they navigate making changes in their lives.
I recently attended an Intensive Therapy Program utilizing psychodrama, family of origin work, and intensive group therapy. While I learned much about myself and my continued work in therapy, the primary tool that I took with me was the importance of PLAY! The little kid in me needs play. We all have a ‘little kid’ in us that needs to be taken care of, stay safe, and have fun through play.
A few months ago, I came across a video interview with Dr. Gabor Maté that discussed attachment, authenticity, and the interplay between the two for children specifically. The content struck me in its simplicity. Maté explained two often complex topics in a way that seemed digestible. The idea is that as children we have two core needs (in addition to several others), one for attachment and one for authenticity.
At Evoke, parent support is taken seriously. As one of Evoke’s Parent Coordinators, I spend a large part of my time talking with parents and family members whose kids are currently in our program. I can answer their questions about the program, help them navigate the Parent Portal, and I can also let them know about the different support options that are available while their child is with us.
I was just 14 years old when I took my first job in Food and Beverage, slinging fries at the local McDonalds. It was the only place in town that would hire someone so young and, obviously, it wasn’t glamorous: I left each shift covered with a fine mist of stinking fry oil that only exacerbated my teenage acne. But I stuck with it because I liked the way the team worked together, like gears in a clock, to kick out order after order when our dining room was full. I especially enjoyed the shrill, thrilled squeals of kids when they opened up their Happy Meal to find a Power Ranger or Space Jam toy. I’m guilty of sneaking an extra toy to a kid or two during my time there. Sorry, boss.
Election day is just around the corner. September 22nd was National Voter Registration day, and a great reminder for all citizens of the United States to take a little time in their day to ensure their voter registration. Since our staff and clients have a harder time accessing the internet, the seamless process of voter registration, or at least confirming that they are registered, is a more tedious task for our wilderness folks.
The meaning that we ascribe to elements in our lives and experiences is powerful. Over half a century ago, Albert Ellis created an entire theory, Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy, discussing how we, as humans, ascribe meaning to an experience; that the way that we interpret it will give rise to the emotions we hold about it.
“Would you like me to walk you to your car?” my daughter suggested, as my husband and I stood in her new dorm bedroom. We had been there awhile lugging boxes in, and inspecting the place that was now her Home.
She was ready for us to leave. Ready to step into adulthood.
Years ago, my child had begun to walk—well, let’s be honest here—run down a path that felt destined to lead to terrible things. She was barely a teen and already experimenting with drinking and substances, showing formidable defiance, beginning to fail out of school, and running a very unpleasant show in two households. Like so many who get pulled into the whirlpool of parenting an out-of-control child, my ex-husband and I were terrified and completely out of our depth.
Just above my home, about a 9-iron away, is access to a trailhead for a smooth 10-mile stretch that runs along the base of the beautiful Wasatch mountains overlooking the valley. This relatively flat bike path is a perfect round trip distance for my level of expertise. I take this ride about two days a week on average, both for the exercise and to soak up the majestic views. I feel free, unencumbered, and for about an hour I have an opportunity for quiet and peaceful reflection.