Located in the hills of western Wisconsin, Eau Claire Academy was founded in 1967 by Clinicare Corp. Ninety miles from Minnesota’s Twin Cities, this recovery facility specializes in helping children and adolescents between the ages of 10 and 17 overcome substance abuse. Eau Claire offers both outpatient and intensive inpatient programs, with an on-site school for children who are still completing their primary and secondary education.
Accommodations and Food
Operating out of a remodeled hospital, the 70-bed multi-program residential facility is situated in a forested residential area. Eau Claire reserves a 10-bed unit for both girls and boys with treatment, housing and a day school housed in one location. The dorm-like rooms are furnished with a bunk bed, two desks and two closets. There are a few single occupancy rooms for special circumstances (e.g. handicapped clients). Each floor has one large shared bathroom.
Eau Claire kitchen staff make an effort to be creative with food to satisfy the sometimes finicky appetites of young people. Breakfast items include breakfast pizza, breakfast burritos and warm and hot cereals. For lunch and dinner, items such as burgers, beans, traditional pizza and an array of fruit may be served. There is no official policy on sugar and caffeine, and kids are allowed to access vending machines on weekends.
A media room is equipped with a flat-screen TV and a video game system. Viewing times are structured and residents are permitted to watch TV for sporting events, the news or a scheduled movie. While no Internet devices are allowed at Eau Claire, kids can bring MP3 players and ear buds/headphones. Each unit has a phone available to residents, though a call list must be submitted ahead of time. Calls are limited to 10 minutes in length, but there’s no limit on the number of calls.
Treatment and Staff
Typically, clients who have completed a detox program elsewhere will recover at Eau Claire for three to six months, with daily group and weekly individual therapy. Eau Claire uses therapeutic methods such as CBT, DBT, Motivational Interviewing (MI) and EMDR for children with trauma issues. Residents typically have a co-occurring disorder, so the program is dual-diagnosis based.
Residents follow an individualized treatment plan that may include any of the following: emotional recovery, behavior adjustment, social skills, general health, educational and vocational support, life skills and risk assessment. The facility follows the 12 steps and there are on-site NA/AA meetings daily. While clients mainly attend in-house meetings, residents do occasionally attend off-site meetings and transportation is provided. If a client comes into this program without a sponsor, Eau Claire’s staff assists in helping the youngster find an appropriate individual.
The family program occurs twice a month, but some private-pay family therapy options are available weekly. If parents and/or loved ones cannot attend in person, phone and/or Skype conferences are made available.
Staff psychiatrists see residents once a month and more if needed. An on-staff nurse and a visiting physician take care of any medical issues.
Eau Claire’s substance abuse unit employs two counselors, with a staff-to-client ratio of one-to-five . Therapists are LADCs and there’s also a case manager who is a substance abuse counselor in training (SACT). The unit is staffed overnight to ensure the kids’ safety.
Days begin at 7 am and clients must be showered and finished with breakfast by 8:30 am when school begins. School is typically in session until 3 pm, with lunch served at 11:30 am. The kids then attend a group session followed by a physical activity such as swimming or golf off campus or an outdoor activity on campus. After dinner at 5 pm, youth have time to do step work and/or schoolwork. There’s always some time for socializing before lights out at 10:30 pm.
“Personal structure,” or free, time is roughly 45 minutes to one hour in the evening after dinner on school days, and in both the afternoons and evenings on other days. For exercise, residents participate in a “Fitness for Recovery” group that meets in Eau Claire’s small weight room once a week. Clients also have daily access to an on-site gym with basketball court. Swimming at the local community pool is arranged and yoga and meditation groups will be available in the near future.
For the first 30 days, residents are limited to on-site visitation. These visits are typically scheduled through the client’s counselor. After this time period, clients are permitted off-site at-home visits with their parent or guardian.
Within the residential treatment program, there is a special track for pregnant teens. It ensures that mothers-to-be receive prenatal education, medical treatment and parenting skills.
The outpatient program offers individualized plans that may include group, individual and family therapy. This track is often a continuation of treatment for clients who have completed the inpatient program.
Extra-curricular outings occur in the evening. Kids enjoy movie theaters, restaurants or just hanging out in a nearby park. In addition to the gym, Eau Claire has an exercise room, a game room, an arts and crafts room, and a volleyball court.
Eau Claire offers aftercare for up to three months after the client’s discharge from residential treatment. This service ensures that students are attending school, taking prescribed medication, continuing their treatment with suggested therapies, and following up on employment opportunities.
A resident therapy dog helps students with motivation, confidence, responsibility, depression and anxiety. Equine therapy is also available through a community center.
Eau Claire Academy’s staff work very closely with young clients and their families and considers family a crucial piece of the recovery process. With the small client load, youngsters receive much-needed individualized attention. Ultimately, this program provides a safe, structured and enjoyable environment for adolescents faced with the challenges of addiction and recovery.
Eau Claire Academy
550 N Dewey St
PO Box 1168
Eau Claire, WI 54702
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