Information in these pages provides you a greater sense of the daily life and focus of our students. Components of the daily “residential life” that our students experience are very important in the overall growth process. The things that happen in part of the daily routine can range from underscoring and strengthening the student’s growth process, to serving as a distraction and undermining the process. Therefore, it is critical to maintain a regular focus on establishing and perpetuating a culture that fosters hope, growth and community. Please see the section entitled “Milieu Therapy” on the Therapy page for more information on this topic.
The emotional culture or “milieu” of our program is a critical factor in the healing process. A strong sense of emotional and physical safety is paramount so that the girls feel protected in the deeply sensitive work they do. Furthermore, the daily interactions and behaviors of the girls in and among their teammates are reflective of how they are progressing in their journey.
In addition, daily interactions with peers and staff are best illustrated by the levels of responsibility they are developing, as well as the respect and care they invest in their relationships. Given this, the role of the residential program and the therapeutic impact it has in the lives of the girls we serve is vitally important in creating a safe and healing culture.
Small teams within larger community
Solstice strikes an optimal balance between the benefits of a larger social community and the safety and personalization of a smaller group. While Solstice has up to 44 students at any given time, these students are divided into 4 teams averaging 11 girls per team. This allows for small, more personal groups within the community.
These teams are based on the primary therapists’ caseload, so that each team has two primary therapists that are assigned to them. Some of the girls’ activities are team specific, such as some off campus outings and groups, community meetings and team-bonding activities. This allows for deeper and stronger relationships of trust to form within teams, as well as creating a feeling of a smaller, safer sense of community.
Parents often ask how we manage behavior and discipline. Our focus is on internalizing values and principles aimed at the development of girls becoming women of character and honor.Our goal is to change hearts, not just behavior.
The implementation of principle based interventions, as opposed to simple behavioral consequences, results in deeper levels of insight and growth. For instance, when a girl “borrows” something from another person without permission, rather that losing the privilege to watch a movie, she may be asked to participate in a principle based intervention related to honesty and trust, and to “give back” to the community in a way that restores trust she may have damaged by her choice.
She will also spend time processing how similar behaviors in the past may have impacted others she cares about. This therapeutic process is intensive, and has significant impact over time when consistently applied in a therapeutic community. There are several levels of principle-based interventions at Solstice that each girl participates in throughout her journey.
When a new student arrives at Solstice, she is assigned a “big sister”, another student that has advanced in her progress enough to be ready to support a new student. The big sister plays a vital role of an immediate friend, a source of information and guidance to the new student. She provides needed orientation to the program, much support during the transition, and mostly focuses on helping her “little sister” feel welcomed and cared about during the first weeks following admission.
Celebrating Long-term Success
“Solstice got me through one of the hardest times in my life. I had a support group that’s huge,
between the therapists and the mentors, the other girls–all helping each other”
Veronica, finding support for relationships and adoption issues.