VisionQuest is a national network of residential mental health, substance abuse and foster care facilities that have been providing support and guidance for boys and girls between the ages of 12 and 21 for over 40 years. VisionQuest’s founder, Bob Burton, saw that most methods for behavioral intervention during the 1960s and 1970s were under-serving a diverse group of at-risk youth requiring support and intervention. He began working with Crow Indians in Montana as a VISTA volunteer and imagined new ways to help troubled youth.
In 1973, VisionQuest began its first program in Arizona with wilderness components and chemical dependency treatment. Within three years, the program blossomed and multiplied, and now has programs in Arizona, Maryland, Florida, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Texas. All treatment programs combine evidence-based methods of treatment with traditional Native American practices to treat clients mentally, emotionally and spiritually. In the state of Maryland, adolescents and young adults can attend Morningstar Youth Academy, an integrated program that provides chemical dependency.
Accommodations and Food
Morningstar Youth Academy is a large compound that accommodates 40 girls and boys. The campus has both a housing complex and a school, and boys and girls are housed in separate wards in both double- and triple-occupancy rooms. Sleeping quarters are furnished with twin beds and linens, as well as storage areas for personal belongings. The treatment and housing are separate, with educational activities and therapy facilitated in the same building. Bathrooms are dormitory style.
There are common media rooms with TV, but viewing is only permitted during downtime on weekends or evenings and monitored by the staff. Additionally, the facility has a gymnasium, outdoor areas, a basketball court and an outdoor pool. Food is served in a large cafeteria with healthy options as well as comfort food. Sugar is monitored.
Treatment and Staff
VisionQuest’s Morningstar Youth Academy provides psychiatric services as well as support for chemical dependency. Under the direction of a Board-certified Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, the clinical staff utilize the Seven Challenges Program—their own unique model that helps youths to redesign their behavior and coping methods. Treatment incorporates group and individual therapy to motivate clients to commit to a change and set recovery goals. Clients also learn life skills, coping skills, how to navigate situational problems and functioning with co-occurring disorders.
All clients are admitted following a bio-psycho-social assessment which determines whether the client has any other disorders present or special needs. Since clients also simultaneously attend school, learning disabilities are taken into consideration when designing a recovery program and medication management is available if required.
Family members are also integrated into the treatment process and participate in therapy. Treatment programs typically last anywhere from a school semester to a full year.
During the therapeutic process, clients are introduced to a range of recovery methods including the 12-step framework. Clients work with mental health professionals who have experience working with children and adolescents. Trauma-informed care is provided by practitioners who are certified to treat chemical dependency and mild to moderate psychiatric disorders.
Morningstar Youth Academy has a comprehensive family program that integrates loved ones in the recovery process, helping to develop healthy communication skills. Staff work within the Functional Family Therapy framework, a program that includes in-home services for clients who are at risk. This diversion program aims to prevent clients from having to enroll in intensive residential programs.
In an effort to cultivate community-minded adolescents, VisionQuest also has clients involved in service work at local shelters.
VisionQuest’s Morningstar Youth Academy provides residential treatment for youth who are in need of chemical dependency treatment and mental health care. By living on the compound and continuing to meet scholastic requirements, clients can immerse themselves in recovery while developing peer support, social skills and the tools required for lasting recovery. Family members are also integrated in to the process, so the entire family system can navigate a successful future together.
Morningstar Youth Academy
1441 Taylors Island Rd
Madison, MD 21648
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