The Therapeutic Center at Fox Chase is better known as The Bridge. Since 1971, The Bridge has been steadily expanding its behavioral health service offerings to youth and families in the Philadelphia area, while the focal point of the program is still to assist high-risk youth with substance abuse, mental health and truancy issues. In 1980, The Bridge adapted the therapeutic model of its boys residential program to an outpatient context and began offering treatment to adults as well.
Accommodations and Food
The Bridge campus is in Northeast Philadelphia, a 30-minute drive from downtown, in the residential neighborhood of Fox Chase. The green-acred campus is about a mile west of Pennypack Park where clients have ample opportunities for outdoor recreation. The Bridge can accommodate 38 adolescent boys, who share dorm-style rooms and bathrooms. The Bridge’s private school is also located on the grounds, with a brand new, state of the art computer lab.
At The Bridge, there’s no skipping out on chores: clients are responsible for taking care of their own personal space as part of the program’s pro-social model. They are also involved in meal preparation. A fully equipped kitchen serves the entire residence. Meals fall along meat and potatoes lines, though special diets may be accommodated on request.
Treatment and Staff
The Bridge’s residential program is long-term, 90 days and up, and post detox. New clients in the residential program are assigned a primary counselor and one of two aftercare coordinators. A client’s primary counselor is his closest point of contact during treatment (they meet at least once a week), but he will have the support of the entire treatment team. It is the job of the entire staff to focus on any co-occurring disorders, trauma and family issues.
The Bridge therapists employ CBT as their primary therapeutic modality. Clients have individual therapy at least once a week and group therapy three times a week. The Bridge also employs behavior modification treatment. Behavior modification treatment is meant to induce pro-social behavior. To that end, boys are encouraged to think of themselves as part of a community, to voluntarily become helpful. Clients learn about Attachment Theory, Interpersonal Theory, Family Systems Theory and the Ecological Model. Each of these theories supports the idea that the community is relevant to recovery. A daily point system is used to track each client’s behavior; the numerical value he receives every day is based on his participation and behavior in clinical, educational, skill building and recreational activities; clients chart their own progress on Daily Point sheets. Positive progress enables them to buy things from the Bridge store and to participate in various recreational activities.
Most clients are in residential treatment between 90 days and nine months. During this time, they attend school during the week. The licensed private school is on campus, and any credits earned at the school are transferred to a client’s high school upon discharge. There are three full-time school staffers: a principal, a teacher with a Master’s degree and a special education teacher. Clients take interactive lessons that are tailored to their individual skill level; the school has a computer-learning lab, and uses the New Century Integrated Instructional System as educational software.
There are seven full-time clinical staff members at the Bridge, two continuing care coordinators and six full-time residential staff members. The director of the clinical program has a Doctorate in psychology. The other staff members are all licensed, professional counselors and therapists, with Master’s-level degrees in Health Sciences and in Science, or with Bachelor’s degrees in Social Work.
While the residential program only welcomes adolescent boys, clients of all ages are invited to The Bridge’s outpatient program. The course of treatment is completely individualized: some stay for 90 days, others a year or more. Outpatient services include drug and alcohol screening, DUI education classes and therapy at the group, family and individual level. Group therapy focuses on addressing past trauma, improving communication skills and increasing self-esteem by identifying personal strengths.
Life at The Bridge residential program is not all school and therapy. Clients have the opportunity to take part in animal assisted therapy, gardening club, art and music classes and dive training. Vocational classes in areas as varied as plumbing, carpentry, cooking, computers, engine building, electrical and music and video production are also offered. There is even an on-site paid work experience program.
Family therapy in the residential program can be scheduled twice a month or twice a week, depending on need. Families are given frequent homework assignments as part of the family program. The Bridge also hosts frequent themed family nights to encourage bonding. Up to four family members are allowed to visit their teens in residence at a time, although initially a therapist is responsible for setting up these visits, which take place on Saturdays and Sundays between 2:30 and 4:30 pm. Clients are also allowed to make weekly phone calls home.
After a client leaves residential treatment, he continues to work with his aftercare coordinator for at least three months, at which point he is invited to join an alumni group of his peers.
In the summer of 2005, The Bridge also took over E³ Center West, a youth opportunity center in West Philadelphia, which helps out-of-school youth and youth returning from juvenile justice placements develop academic, vocational and life skills.
Essays by former residents at The Bridge give a sense of its commitment to bettering the lives of its clients. The Bridge’s outpatient program does significant work, but the residential piece is the crown jewel of its program. For those interested in affordable, long-term residential treatment that’s focused on creating functioning members of society, The Bridge could get them there.
Therapeutic Center at Fox Chase: The Bridge
8400 Pine Road
Philadelphia, PA 19111
Therapeutic Center at Fox Chase: The Bridge Cost: Sliding scale. Reach Therapeutic Center at Fox Chase: The Bridge by phone at (215)-342-5000 or by email at [email protected].
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