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 outposts 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. Standing Timbers Academy is a VisionQuest residential boarding school program in Pennsylvania that provides substance abuse treatment for school-aged boys while they pursue their scholastic goals.
Accommodations and Food
Standing Timbers Academy has a total of 32 beds available on a large campus. Six buildings are situated on the grounds, providing housing, academic activities and treatment in separate facilities. The boys are accommodated in the second largest building in rooms that are furnished with two to four beds with linens provided as well as storage areas for personal belongings. Bathrooms are dormitory style and shared.
The campus has a school building, basketball court, offices, mess hall and cafeteria as well as a therapeutic space. Three meals are served daily in the cafeteria, with snacks available throughout the day. Meals are healthy American fare. Additionally, the property features a barn with a tool shed, allowing clients to cultivate hobbies and learn new life skills.
Treatment and Staff
Standing Timbers Academy utilizes evidence-based practices as well as a Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) called The Sanctuary Model. Clients are given a safe space to achieve their goals and develop positive coping skills. The goal of the clinical staff is to integrate emotional, mental and physical recovery in residents, preparing them to return home as productive members of society. Every week, clients attend an adapted school alternative for academics and group therapy sessions. Groups and individual therapy sessions are focused on chemical dependency and use CBT techniques. Social and life skills are developed as well as relapse prevention skills.
The Sanctuary Model includes anger management therapy. The clinical staff understands that many clients learned behaviors from trying to process traumas as a means to protect themselves. The Sanctuary Model addresses these behaviors and provides clients with a safe space to fully express themselves and identify root causes. Psychoeducation is also incorporated so clients are informed and able to look objectively at their lives. Goals are developed and clinical staff see them through the entire process.
All services are implemented by an all-male staff who are credentialed to work with children and adolescents. The team is headed by a Board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrist. Practitioners utilize a range of methods including the 12-step framework and behavior modification. Length of time spent in the program depends on the client and their progression towards their goals. Average length of time is six months.
Standing Timbers helps residents develop life and social skills while living on campus. Boys practice skills like wood-working and learn survival skills to cultivate confidence and independence. Off-campus camping trips may also be scheduled.
Incorporation of the family is another essential component of treatment at Standing Timbers, with specific family sessions scheduled to help repair relationships and develop healthy communication skills.
VisionQuest’s Standing Timbers Academy offers young boys a solution for their chemical dependency and behavioral issues, also acting as a safe house for youth who are still in the foster care system. Through carefully integrated programming and goal planning, clients are guided to become strong individuals and reformed members of the community.
Standing Timbers Academy
35 Keystone Rd.
Gouldsboro, PA 18424
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