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New Perspectives - Dec, 1998 Issue #55

Eureka, Montana
By: Mary Alexine, M.A., and Kenny Pannell, M.Ed.

Chrysalis residents are girls, 13 to 18 years old, who have struggled academically, socially, and in terms of home and family. Typical diagnostic issues include: mood disorders, attentional problems, trauma and stress-related disorders, distorted self image and esteem problems, eating problems, milder attachment issues, opposition/defiance but not hardened ‘Conduct Disorder’, problems related to separation and individuation, and substance abuse/addiction. 

Generally our students are of at least average intelligence, but range upward to bright and gifted. Academic problems should be potentially responsive to tutoring, program structure, and the special education available in our public school system, but should not require the extreme accommodation offered only in specialized therapeutic schools. 

Substance use/abuse may be an issue, but residents have preferably established several months of sobriety and are committed to a program of recovery prior to acceptance at Chrysalis. In some cases, recent detox and completion of a Wilderness Assessment Course may deem a young woman appropriate for placement at Chrysalis. 

Residents may be on medications (i.e. Stimulants, antidepressants, etc.); medication management is handled by our local doctor in Eureka when possible, or by a child psychiatrist with whom we work closely in Kalispell when necessary. 

Residents need to be in reasonably good physical health, enabling vigorous activity in all seasons. Chrysalis is not staffed to manage diabetic or other special medical needs. 

We expect that most girls will join our home and program for at least 12 months. However, because we tailor individual plans to meet each girl’s needs, length of stay can be extended as long as clinically necessary. We prefer that girls enter our program somewhat willingly, at least marginally curious about themselves. And, they should already own some share of the problems that have been in the way of their growth and success. 

(Both Mary and Kenny are Master’s level licensed therapists, and Mary is also a certified chemical dependency counselor. They met while working at Pathways Treatment Center in Kalispell, Montana, and worked most recently at Montana Academy where Kenny was the Program Director/Therapist and Mary was Lead Therapist. They are outdoor activity enthusiasts, Mary gardens extensively, and they have “three cats, two loyal dogs, and three ornery horses.”) 

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