Founded in 1995 by husband and wife team Kathy and Mark McGregor, New Haven residential treatment and boarding school for girls began as a one-room schoolhouse with enough beds for 11 girls. Over the years they have expanded to three Utah campuses, offering a comprehensive family-focused healing program for girls seeking recovery from emotional issues, trauma, substance abuse and and eating disorders. Their motto, “We Heal Families” is perhaps the reason they can claim that girls will never need another treatment program after New Haven.
Accommodations and Staff
With one campus in Saratoga Springs, and the other two in the Spanish Fork area of Utah, New Haven offers help for 107 girls between the ages of 12 and 18. The original New Haven acreage, known as the South Campus in Spanish Fork, houses 46 girls in three homes (each house is named after an influential historical figure—the Sacagawea House, the Eleanor Roosevelt House and the Mother Teresa House). The North Campus, located in Saratoga Springs, has three houses as well (The Rosa Parks House, the Florence Nightingale House and the Susan B. Anthony House), each large enough to host 16 girls. Each campus has a schoolhouse with several classrooms, an art room, library and computer lab.
Each contemporary house would easily fit in any cul de sac across upper middle class America, and New Haven has made a great effort to create a home-like atmosphere for their students on both campuses.
Rooms are shared, with twin and/or bunk beds resembling a typical teenager’s bedroom. Common areas are decorated with comfortable, homey over-stuffed sofas and chairs and well-stocked kitchens. The staff dietician works with each girl individually to establish a healthy approach to eating, and special diets (vegetarian, kosher, etc.) are accommodated.
Houses are staffed with experts—clinical directors, therapists and trained residential staff—who serve to guide and supervise, and to assist in creating community amongst the girls.
Treatment and Staff
New Haven uses its own core value system to educate and heal the girls and their families. Girls are encouraged to look within to find their “Locus of Control”—an empowering, internal source of control, rather than an external one (like luck, family or society). Selflessness and spirituality are cultivated through acts of compassion and service, on campus and in the community, fostering a sense of purpose and direction. Students follow the facility’s core recovery program, “H.E.A.L.S.” (Healthy Families, Experiential, Academics, Love and Service). Each girl is encouraged to develop her own belief system with its central value being integrity. Once she has developed these core values, she is held accountable to them, demonstrating her progress with her behavior.
The girls are expected to participate in individual therapy and daily group therapies (alternating between specialty and general groups, depending on the day), including recreation therapy. A staff with wide-ranging credentials cares for students at New Haven. There are recreation therapists, licensed clinical social workers (LCSW), mental health counselors, school counselors, psychiatrists (for dual diagnosis support), mental health clinical nurse specialists, registered nurses and a dietician. They boast a staff-to-client ratio of less than one-to-four.
The New Haven school follows a traditional school class schedule Monday through Friday from 8:15 am to 2 pm with a one-hour lunch break. Classes are small and therefore able to focus on individual needs. The curriculum includes Social Studies, Science, Math, English, Healthy Lifestyle, Fine Art and Foreign Language, as well as Independent study. Courses are credited, and accommodate individual learning styles and education plans, with 95% of New Haven graduates going on to attend college.
And while New Haven is a residential treatment center, the girls maintain close contact with family; each week there is a 90-minute video conference call to connect for family therapy, a phone call on Sundays, and there are three-day family weekends held every two months. Parents are also expected to participate in a healing program, with family events, therapy and parent coaching.
When clients are considered adjusted and well enough to return home, New Haven offers Transition Services which include in-home visits, assistance connecting with local support groups as well as weekly conference calls with staff, coaching and a 24/7 help line connecting parents with New Haven therapists.
New Haven offers a unique recovery model for at-risk teen girls, teaching them to be empowered by their own choices. Operating as a residential treatment center, they are definitely family-focused. With the average client staying almost a year or longer, this isn’t a traditional rehab. But with the long-term mental health success rates of program graduates, the success of their program cannot be doubted.
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