Wyoming Behavioral Institute offers residential trauma-informed care for children and adolescents affected by emotional trauma and mental health crises. It provides a supportive place for healing in which young patients can develop new skills and learn appropriate methods of self-expression.
The program is intended for youths who have experienced trauma and face lasting mental and emotional effects from it. Complex trauma exposures include loss, neglect, witnessing, maltreatment and separation. These experience can lead to post-traumatic stress and other complex clinical symptoms such as:
- Behavioral difficulties
- Relationship struggles
- Decline in academic performance
- High-risk behaviors (substance abuse, sexual risk taking, etc.)
To provide a safe environment for a diverse population of adolescents – especially those who have experienced trauma and its accompanying difficulties – through ethical and evidence-based treatment that focuses on recognizing the value of the individual, educating, providing them skills, and empowering them with a positive self-image to prepare them to be successful in life.
Accompanying difficulties = Depression, abuse (physical, sexual, emotional and neglect), attachment problems, oppositional and defiant behaviors, anxiety, and substance abuse.
- Individual Therapy
- Family Therapy
- Group Therapy
- Psychiatric Care
- Occupational Therapy
- Recreational Therapy
- Educational Services
Trauma Informed Care
It is important to have a basic understanding of trauma and to be able to look at the impact it has on those receiving care in a treatment facility. Knowing how a person responds to stress allows us to look at the person, not the behaviors. It is important for staff of all levels to be informed about sensitive or trauma related issues to help avoid re-traumatization of residents. It is critical to understand the unintentional triggers to help find positive ways to work through treatment related issues. There is a continual emphasis on safety and allowing residents to have respectful and sensitive interactions in treatment. Providing trauma informed services allows residents to feel a sense of control in their lives and their treatment. The trauma informed model provides for development of skills, rather than just managing the behavioral symptoms.
Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT)
Starting where the resident is and attaching feelings with memories is how trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy works. We focus on working with Pathways residents to understand the meaning of the abuse they experienced and the automatic negative thoughts that come from those meanings. Observing how thought patterns led to the maladaptive behaviors in their lives results in an ability to make different choices. A heavy focus is placed on how thoughts develop from experiences and traumas in life. Teaching residents and their families about trauma helps them understand reactions to trauma. Learning the common thought distortions and correcting them allows residents and their families to move forward from past experiences.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
The Pathways Program helps residents develop emotional regulation. Understanding emotional triggers and reactions, and finding ways to cope and manage some of those stressors, is emphasized at all levels. Group therapy is focused on grounding techniques, self-awareness, balancing thoughts and feelings, emotional regulation and mindfulness. There is a consistent focus on problem solving and correcting thought processes. Individual therapy also teaches residents to explore the emotional mind, the logical mind, and combining them for the wise mind. Residents who have experienced trauma often have significant emotional disturbances that create challenges in regulating emotions. It is important to help residents understand “safe space” and being grounded in reality to manage symptoms of trauma.
Some Pathways residents may benefit from medication therapy. Medication therapy is assessed and monitored by physicians. The physician will discuss any medication recommendations with the resident and the family before this treatment option is started.
Special behavioral interventions:
The Pathways program emphasizes a collaborative problem-solving environment and some residents do not always choose to actively problem solve. Consequences and rewards provide learning experiences that help residents choose better options for themselves in the future. Consequences and rewards help discourage impulsive behavior and promote the acceptance of responsibility.
Collaborative problem solving:
Often when Pathways residents are not behaving well it is because they are unable to do so at the time. Staff will offer the opportunity to place concerns on the table, in hopes of identifying the problem. Together, residents and staff problem solve until solutions are reached. This allows residents to learn skills that will benefit them in future interactions.
The Pathways Program is committed to the development and success of families. We believe Pathways program residents’ success is closely tied to family dynamics. Educating families is important. Youth who have mental health issues related to trauma commonly need their parents to understand concerns they experience. Teaching parents to understand their child’s emotions and to look for warning signs and emotional triggers is essential to moving toward more effective ways of managing distress. The more understanding a family has for the concerns of their loved ones, the more likely Pathways Program residents are to successfully reintegrate into the family structure. Regular contact with families is emphasized in the Pathways program. Pathways residents are able to earn passes outside of the treatment facility with their families to help with adjustment and reunification.
Family services include:
- Parenting groups and support
- Family therapy sessions
- Family-specific treatment plan goals
- Phone calls and visits
- Home and community passes
Parenting groups are available to families. Families not residing in Casper can participate through teleconferencing. Sessions are offered for residents and their families and for parents alone. Some of the specific subjects covered in therapy include:
- Appropriate consequences
- Boundaries and boundary setting
- Behavior management
- Developmental issues
- Understanding each other
As part of our commitment to treatment of trauma related issues we have incorporated substance abuse programming. Pathways program residents on the path of healing from trauma are also on the road to recovery from harmful substances and addictions.
Pathways residents who have engaged in substance abusing behaviors are assessed using the Comprehensive Health Assessment for Teens (CHAT). CHAT is a tool that assesses strengths and problem areas, allowing treatment teams to fully address each Pathways resident’s individual needs and challenges.
Personalized assignments are given to reflect the concerns specific to substance abusing behavior. Treatment plan goals include addressing substance abuse in individual and family therapy. Group therapy specific to substance abuse is offered.
A full spectrum treatment approach is provided that includes:
- Understanding one’s own substance abuse history
- Thought distortions related to substance abuse
- Support systems and the ripple effect
- Motivation for change
- Understanding what is needed to change behavior
- Understanding motivation and beliefs
- Cravings and coping skills
- Relapse prevention and safety planning
The Pathways Unit is structured to meet the treatment and academic needs of adolescents ages 10 to 16. Please read our Pathways handbook for more details.