One of the most powerful components of an effective residential treatment environment that contributes greatly to the growth of its participants is the degree to which the culture, or milieu, is therapeutic and healthy. A therapeutic culture is one that inherently rewards pro-social, adaptive behavior in its members. In a therapeutic milieu, to borrow some teen language, it is “uncool” to utilize maladaptive, ineffective behaviors, and it is considered “cool” to be responsible, respectful, helpful, kind and so forth. Of course, this doesn’t mean that maladaptive behaviors don’t happen in a healthy milieu, because they certainly do. But how the culture responds to those behaviors determines its health. Again, the true power of a residential treatment program is in the ability of its culture to respond to all behaviors in a way that encourages the positive growth of its members.
Teens tend to respond to other teens more readily than to adults. So a primary focus at Solstice is to create a healthy culture in which the residents are helping each other. this is especially powerful when negative behaviors occur, and it’s the peer culture that responds in a way that encourages correction, not just the staff. Our clients learn and grow so much more efficiently and effectively in this context than when it is adults providing the correction. The power of the Solstice culture is one of the components that sets us apart from other programs, be they RTC’s, therapeutic boarding schools, or similar programs. A truly effective RTC like Solstice creates lasting, internalized change through the power of the therapeutic culture which strengthens and complements the other therapeutic processes at work in the lives of the students.