The White Fields’ therapy program plays an integral part in our residents’ healing process. When our children arrive on campus, they have experienced an average of 12 failed placements in one year alone. These ongoing upheavals create additional layers of trauma on top of the abusive situations from which they were originally removed.
Most of our residents’ experiences fit the description of “complex trauma,” meaning they have suffered multiple traumatic events over an extended period of time, events which are often perpetrated by family members or others close to them. These may have occurred in the form of physical or sexual abuse, environmental or emotional neglect, exposure to domestic violence or substance abuse, community violence, medical trauma, and living in chronically unstable or harmful social environments. Exposure to traumatic events such as these, over time, can lead to lifelong impairment in cognition, coping capacity, relationships with others, self-esteem, and learning ability. Demonstrated negative effects of complex trauma include multiple psychiatric disorders, ongoing relational and attachment problems, affect regulation difficulties, cognitive impairment, aggression, substance abuse, chronic physical problems, sexual behavior problems, and self-mutilation (National Child Traumatic Stress Network, 2005).
As their traumas are often chronic and began at a very early age, our residents are frequently unable to verbalize specific memories or feelings regarding any given event. Instead, their traumatic responses are evident through their relationships and interactions, inability to cope with strong emotions, and negative self-concept. The primary focus of our therapy program is to provide high quality, compassionate, and evidence-based mental health treatment to help our boys address these areas and experience positive relationships in a new way. Our clinicians work closely with direct care staff to develop and apply individualized interventions that can be used across all settings on campus.
White Fields’ therapy program utilizes the following modalities: (1) Integrative Treatment for Complex Trauma; (2) Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (when applicable); (3) Cognitive Behavioral Therapy; (4) Art Therapy; (5) Play Therapy; and (6) Client-Centered Therapy. Our children participate in regularly scheduled sessions, and interventional sessions are available during crises. Each boy receives two hours of group therapy, one hour of individual therapy, one hour of art therapy, and one hour of skills training each week. As trust develops in the therapeutic relationship with both clinicians and direct care staff, we are able to demonstrate new ways of relating, coping, and interacting that lead to healing and growth.
At White Fields, each boy is viewed as a unique individual who responds to life circumstances in his own distinct manner. For this reason, White Fields uses the Therapeutic Crisis Intervention system as its behavioral management component. TCI was developed by Cornell University in the early 1980s. This crisis intervention system enables White Fields to learn methods of preventing crises, removing potential critical situations, and restoring the child, staff and program to a higher level of functioning. It emphasizes teaching our young residents adaptive coping skills to weather crises in a proactive manner.