Family involvement is central to New Haven’s treatment philosophy. We realize that lasting change in your daughter only occurs if your family changes in unison with her. Through family events, family therapy, and parent coaching, we invite families to join their daughters in a process of grieving, growing, forgiving, and healing.

Family Weekends

Historically, therapeutic boarding schools and adolescent treatment centers largely ignored the critical role of family in the treatment process. New Haven, however, has been an industry leader in family-based treatment, implementing a robust program of family therapy, family systems approaches, and family events for more than fifteen years. We know that for your daughter’s healing to last, you have to be a part of it.

As a key element of our family program, parents and siblings participate directly in the New Haven on-campus experience six times a year during our family weekends. During these weekends, families from across the country gather to spend time with their daughters and to participate in recreational activities, experiential therapy, family therapy, multi-family therapy groups, and parent-instruction groups. These three-day events give parents the opportunity to spend time with staff, make deep connections with other parents, engage their daughters in new ways, and get a taste for life at New Haven. Parents can also schedule conferences with their daughter’s teachers and therapists, as well as consultations with our medical and psychiatric team.

Family weekends ensure that all family members share, support, and benefit from the New Haven experience. A shared experience is the key to lasting change for your daughter and your whole family.

Family Systems Approach

The family systems approach is a supportive, non-judgmental style of therapy that engages the entire family in a cooperative process of growth. Troubled teenage girls respond well to family-based treatment because they know that the treatment focus is not solely on them; they no longer feel the shame of being “the problem” in the family. We often hear parents wonder out loud why New Haven is working when other treatment centers have not. Our research-based, heart-driven approach to family work creates a safe emotional environment in which families can make lasting changes.

A family-systems approach is fundamentally relational. Treatment centers for years were based on a behavior-modification model which can be abusive and doesn’t work. Research shows that one of the most effective sources of hope and change is the relationship a troubled teenage girl has with her therapist. New Haven focuses its entire program around nurturing healthy, healing relationships. Struggling adolescent girls are much more likely to change in a nurturing atmosphere, where they encounter kind, competent, virtuous people. This allows girls to practice new skills and positive behaviors in a context of health, so that they are prepared to return home to the relationships that matter most – family relationships.

We know from experience and from research that lasting change occurs when the whole family is engaged in a coordinated process of growth and change. New Haven applies all of its resources to helping families heal from the past, thrive in the present, and move toward a hopeful future, hand-in-hand with their daughters.

Therapeutic Assignments

Family involvement and participation in the therapeutic change process exponentially increases treatment effect. At New Haven, the whole family system is required to be involved in the therapeutic process.

In addition to intensive individual and family therapeutic sessions, Students and Parents receive individualized family-focused therapeutic assignments to support the healing process. These tasks and assignments have been developed and refined since the genesis of New Haven to address the specific and sometimes complex needs of the students and families that we serve. Not only do these assignments play a major role in family healing while at New Haven, but often families and students site these therapeutic assignments as an integral part to the success families experience during the months and years that follow New Haven.  

Healing Phases

New Haven’s values-based phases help our students take positive control of their lives by teaching them to shift control from an external locus (others control her) to an internal locus (she controls herself).

Our phases are given names that have special meanings:

  1. Safety
  2. Expectation
  3. Exploration
  4. Insight
  5. Integrity
  6. Interdependence

The second two phases begin with the prefix “ex” to suggest that the student is still being controlled or motivated by outside influences. The last three phases begin with prefix “in” to represent the student’s shift from being controlled by outside forces to taking control of herself.

Each phase has a set of requirements which the student and her family must complete before they are eligible to advance to the next phase. Each phase also has specific privileges which the student may enjoy once she has reached it.

Safety Phase

The Safety Phase provides an opportunity for the staff to get to know a new student and for the student to get to know the staff. This initial stage usually lasts just a few days. Students show that they can be safe and then they are moved to the next phase.

When a student arrives at New Haven, she is automatically placed on the Safety Phase. The new student is introduced to and begins to work on our values program. Each new student is assigned a peer mentor. The peer mentor is a higher-phase student who shows the new student how the program works, gives the new student a tour, and introduces her to the other students. Peer mentors also help with the check-in process and help new students to feel comfortable.

Expectation Phase

At the Expectation Phase, the student continues to learn New Haven’s rules, boundaries, structure, the Values Program, and other expectations. The student is reminded of family and societal expectations. Her locus of control is still external, so she requires strict structure from staff. This student must be safe to herself, others, animals, and property.

The student may have visitors at New Haven, but may not go off campus with visitors. She may, however, go on all off-campus activities. She may call her family for twenty minutes unsupervised, but may not call friends. She continues to be in staff sight at all times. She may have jewelry, room decorations, and approved personal reading materials.

Exploration Phase

At the Exploration Phase the student is still externally motivated, but begins to internalize new values. She learns and establishes an attitude of openness to new information about herself, specifically her self-defeating behaviors. The student still manifests the necessity of continual staff redirection. She is mostly teachable, open to learning in therapy and school, and is compliant with reasonable requests. The student is able to give feedback in respectful ways and receive it non-defensively. She is able to identify and acknowledge her treatment issues.

In addition to all the privileges of the Exploration Phase, the student may be alone for fifteen minutes at a time with staff approval. She may participate in off-campus visits (not out of state), but may not visit anywhere overnight. She may call her family for thirty minutes each week unsupervised, but may not call friends.

Insight Phase

At the Insight Phase honesty becomes very evident in the student. She is aware of defense mechanisms and their destructive nature. She begins to recognize avoidant behavior in herself, verbalizes personal insights in treatment settings, and is honest with staff and peers. She recognizes inappropriate behavior without justifying it, verbalizes new plans of action, accepts prompts from staff, and takes reasonable feedback and direction without complaint. She gives insightful, constructive comments to others, and is able to accept feedback from her family. She participates maturely in family therapy. She shows evidence that she is moving towards becoming internally motivated.

In addition to all the privileges of the Exploration Phase, the student may go on approved overnight, off campus, out of state visits not exceeding three days and two nights. She may have a family phone call once a week for sixty minutes at a time with staff approval and one phone call with an approved friend for ten minutes. She may participate in private lessons of her choosing.

Integrity Phase

Integrity means wholeness. A student with integrity is consistently learning and demonstrating internal control. She goes beyond cosmetic compliance and is mature and insightful. She manifests a genuine change of heart and attitude. She is consistent in her behavior over time, has no ulterior motives, her peers acknowledge her leadership and positive changes, she is sincere in family therapy and proactive in discharge planning. The student excels in all areas of treatment.

The student continues to have all of her previous Phase privileges and may call her family once weekly unsupervised and untimed. She may call three approved friends for fifteen minutes each. She may be alone for up to sixty minutes with staff approval. She may participate in one-on-one off-campus activities with staff members (not overnight). She may go on multiple day and night visits with her family and approved friends.

Interdependence Phase

On Interdependence Phase the student has demonstrated that she values interdependence, growth and responsibility. She knows that her behavior affects everyone in her life. She is driven by an internal locus of control and she values life, agency, and trust.

The student continues to have all the privileges of the previous phases. She may manage her own money. She may be unsupervised for pre-determined amounts of time when she approves it with the residential director. She may use the phone whenever she chooses. She must still attend group therapy, recreation therapy, school, and community meetings unless she receives special permission from treatment team.

Family Treatment Goals

At New Haven, we strongly believe in the involvement of the whole family system in the healing process. Upon arrival at New Haven, families work with their primary therapist to establish individual and collective goals for family healing. Time is spent exploring the manner in which the journey to New Haven has impacted each member of the family system. Goals are established based upon this exploratory work, with objectives outlining each step of the healing process for each member of the family.

Upon this foundation, a Master Treatment Plan is established; providing a framework from which all treatment interventions are derived. This treatment plan is reviewed weekly by the team of professionals specifically assigned to your family to ensure that treatment is progressing in a favorable and timely manner. 


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