How is Jasper Mountain unique?
The synergy of multiple elements makes this program unique. Elements including the people—who are committed to learning and not just teaching, the setting—the beautiful temperate rain forest and mountains of Oregon, the community—a treatment family investing in the growth of children and growth of staff, the environment—clean water/fresh air/grounds and buildings architecturally designed for children. Many people have said this combination is one-of-a-kind.
What is at the core of your program’s treatment?
We attempt to first understand the underlying causes to determine what the primary problem is. This requires an understanding of the brain and how the child perceives past and present experiences. Developmental history, traumatic experiences, family dynamics, attachment and bonding are all important factors. Multifaceted ecological interventions are then designed to address the deeper issues. Treatment must touch the mind, body and spirit to make lasting change and prepare the child for success in life.
How does Jasper Mountain define success?
We define success as the short and long-term enhancement of personal health in all respects. We are not just interested in behavioral change, although this is part of what we do. We encourage children to express themselves and share their feelings. We want a child who has self-understanding, develops self-regulation, learns the skills to connect positively with others, begins to learn from the experiences of life and develops personal goals and the ability to achieve their goals.
What is your success rate?
There are many ways to look at success. We consider multiple factors to determine if the child is improving in all areas and engaging successfully with others. Most important to us is the long-term improvement and based on approximately 1,000 interviews and measuring program graduates on 21 factors of success, as a group they were doing substantially better five years after graduation than at discharge. These graduates had these strengths: working on educational and work skills 89%, communicating effectively with others 88%, improved behavior 85%, success in school 88%, showing good personal hygiene 87% and developing hobbies and interests 90%. While in the program before graduation the children made significant behavioral improvement in 75% of their problem areas. Overall, the average child was downgraded from severely impaired to moderately impaired. Jasper Mountain collected more statistical information on outcomes than any other program in the United States in two national studies. It also could show it was among the most successful anywhere.
How are you able to succeed with children when other programs have not been successful?
The answer may be that we first understand the child at a deep level. We have a total environment that promotes healing and growth on all levels. We have learned from some of the most challenging children that they need to move forward in their lives in a positive way. Our model of Neurological Reparative Therapy, developed at Jasper Mountain, uses treatment approaches to promote positive brain change. Residents learn to think, feel and act differently and when tehy graduate they leave us with a brain that functions differently. Perhaps most important is that Jasper Mountain is a treatment family more than a treatment program, and children learn and grow best in a family
What factors are most important to Jasper Mountain’s success?
We provide all essential psychological and psychiatric services consistent with an intensive treatment program such as individual, family, and group treatment. In addition, we promote physical health with a specialized diet and constant exercise. The child contributes to the family with meaningful chores and work projects. We connect with the deeper needs of the child and give him or her an experience in positive interactions, and getting their wants and needs met in pro-social ways.
What children are most successful in your program?
We have great success with children who have serious histories of abuse and neglect. We also do very well with children with serious deficiencies in bonding and attaching to parents, which is a population that confuses many programs. We do well with children with serious emotional and behavioral problems. We also do well with children who exhibit serious acting out behaviors such as sexual acting out, fire setting and violence toward self and others. Briefly stated, Jasper Mountain generally does well with children who often fail in other programs.
How do you treat abuse and trauma?
To understand the serious impacts of abuse, you must understand how the brain processes traumatic experiences. Our program does just that and provides the necessary environmental ingredients to disrupt the child’s reactive patterns. We then follow a ten-step process that has been identified in research to retrain the brain and promote healing and coping skills for the future stresses of life. Our trauma treatment may be why our children as a group are doing much better five years after they graduate than the major progress they show in our program.
How do you treat attachment problems?
Attachment problems presuppose trauma. Our program uses a full inclusion model to work on past trauma, the causes of the attachment difficulties, and then establishing a pattern of reciprocity—you have to give something to get what you want. We define attachment treatment as having four components: within an environment where the child experiences safety, his or her needs must be unconditionally met, constant invitations to connect are extended by others, and a tough love reciprocal world is established where the child only gets what he or she wants when something is given in return. We have specific methods to achieve each of these goals.
What is your program’s position on psychiatric medications?
We have been complemented by external program evaluators due to our deemphasizing reliance on mood or behavioral altering medications and instead helping children with self-regulation and teaching the child internal skills. We do not oppose psychotropic medications and use of them, but most children leave the program with significantly fewer medications than when they come to us. We view medications as aids for the child to learn internal regulation of moods and behavior. When they aid the child in doing his or her part, then medications are a part of the treatment plan.
How is attachment improved by removing the child from the home and being placed with you?
Attachment disorders can be one of the most complex problems to treat in children. Simple explanations will never be sufficient, but stated briefly, the pattern between the child and parent must first be disrupted. This pattern is typically characterized by the child taking from everyone and giving little back. When the child leaves the family he or she often misses the family members or at least what they provided the child and now the child must put in effort to get what they want.
How long is treatment at Jasper Mountain?
The answer is as long as the process takes to understand the deeper levels of the child’s problems and to help the child internalize strategies to help in the long run. Although we must work in a “managed care” environment, we do not agree with merely managing costs rather than managing care. At the same time, more treatment is not always the best plan. For children with significant problems we often have the child in residence for a year or longer. Part of their treatment plan often includes leaving residential care and transitioning into one of our practice families in the community.
What does your program expect of parents?
We expect parents to be involved in all aspects of treatment and to be willing to consider our recommendations to promote a child’s continued growth and development. Children are nearly always the initial focus of concern, but children many times are telling others through their feelings and behaviors (rather than through their words) that they need changes in their environment to grow and improve. Our program almost always produces major improvements in serious acting out and then our job is to work with the family to promote lasting change for the child, which nearly always involves adjustments in many aspects of the child’s world at home, at school and in the community. Specifically, we expect parents to communicate continually with us both positive and negative issues. We also ask parents to stay involved by phone, mail, and to visit their child on a regular basis (monthly or quarterly).
What are the limits on contact when children are in your program?
We have very few limits. There is no “black-out” period when a child first comes to the program. We encourage frequent contact by all methods including video conferencing. The only limits to contact would be based on a plan agreed to by parents to best facilitate elements of treatment. In general, frequent contact (once or twice a week) is encouraged.
How are parents included in treatment and informed of progress?
We ask parents to bring their child to the program for our admission process. We will initiate at least weekly contact to discuss progress. On a monthly basis all members of the treatment team will meet and discuss details of progress. Parents are asked to be involved either in person or on a conference call. Parents are provided a detailed written report on all aspects of treatment on a monthly basis. Academic progress is also provided to parents on an ongoing basis. Parents are encouraged to contact us at any time for questions or concerns.
How satisfied with your program are parents who send their children to you?
We encourage honest feedback from families and formally request feedback on a continual basis. What we hear tends to be very positive. There are occasional consumers who reflect dissatisfaction in one or more areas but we work to resolve these cases and this is clearly the exception. Overall feedback reflects strong satisfaction with the program, the child’s progress and the employees. For example, in the last year satisfaction scores were: I felt respected by agency staff, rating 4.78 out of a possible 5.0 The services I received improved our situation, 4.75. An overall rating of the agency resulted in: Excellent 76%, Good 24%, Average 0%, Poor 0% and Very Poor 0%. Overall comments reflected appreciation for the help they received.