We have refined our student and family profile and standards around enrollment eligibility. Our overall priority, as always, continues to be focused on students moving out of developmental arrest, regaining maturational momentum, developing a healthy character and genuine and secure identity while strengthening the stability of the family system and parental subsystem. The majority of applicants will be transitioning to long term care from a wilderness program. We can consider a non-traditional applicant (e.g. enrolling straight from home) but this would be a very small percentage of applicants. Our Clinical Director, Tim Corson, spends time reviewing all incoming testing, consultant notes, wilderness notes and supplemental materials prior to meeting with parents. Tim will obtain additional information from parents and provide clarity around areas of student and family treatment focus, likely underlying causation of struggles, short term objectives and parent and family engagement areas. We ask that serious applicants visit our school whenever possible. If there is a good reason that a visit is not possible then we can do video conferencing with Tim and staff in the Admissions, Clinical and Academic departments. We serve a wide range of student and family struggles, but of particular note, we can treat students enrolling at age 18 with their general willingness to engage in treatment, students with learning and executive functioning challenges with access to our learning specialist, students on the higher functioning end of autistic spectrum challenges, and those with secondary substance and digital media struggles. We are a co-ed school, with programs that help girls and boys better understand each other in the context of societal influences and expectations. We have enhanced our girls programming with focus areas in female empowerment, leadership and direct education. As a non-profit school, Summit offers scholarship opportunities to families in financial need. Families or education consultants can reach out to the Admissions department for more information about scholarships.
Check out our Admissions Process
We have made significant additions to our family work. We now have a two-day parent workshop every other month, providing every family the opportunity to attend a workshop during their first visit. Workshops provide deeper understanding of the developmental and family systems model, greater clarity on treatment direction and goals and a connection with other parents in the same cohort and stage of program. Workshops strengthen family therapy, solidifying treatment alliance and provide structured and guided parent-child interaction time. In addition, families participate in an Academic open house, spend time with their team Residential Counselor, as well as meet other key support staff. Summit has also added an additional three day family retreat to the standard retreat that has always been offered. Within our 4 stage program structure, families in stage 2 will have their first retreat and later families in late stage 3 or beginning stage 4 will have their second retreat. The second retreat allows families to include siblings and any relevant extended family in the therapeutic work, as well as work on strategic home pass skills and aftercare planning. Summit offers many scheduled family pass opportunities and we strive to make those occasions very intentional around the family therapeutic work. Passes almost always begin with family therapy sessions and end with family therapy sessions.
Summit has always had a recovery group each week and an AA group offered on campus, but we have now added critical components to the weekly offerings. All students with substance use backgrounds and/or digital media over use histories do one psychoeducational recovery group, a second advanced recovery group and individual meetings with our substance specialist, Shawn Weymouth, and can choose to participate in both on-campus and off-campus AA groups with AA leaders from the local community. All of this weekly recovery work is in addition to the primary treatment offered weekly (individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy and parent guidance) with their team therapist and is coordinated and integrated into that primary treatment.
Independent Living Skills
We have added to our final stage 4 programming. All stage 4 students will have weekly allotted time (up to 5 hours) for a few key independent living modules. Students learn to budget their money, grocery shop, learn cooking skills and receive nutrition education. They learn to build resumes and practice job and college interview skills. Students have designated open internet time with staff so as to learn better control, intent and prioritization over digital media use, gaming, and social media. Summit is intent on helping students navigate the most effective path toward a successful post-program transition.
We are always paying close attention to the needs of the families that seek our services, as well as global trends in the industry. We have noted that many families of female students have expressed concern that they would like single gender options for their daughters due to the desire for a more protected therapeutic container for working through traumatic events. While we realize that co-ed environments are not always suited to every specific issue that bring students to treatment, we want to reiterate that Summit is a blended single gender and integrated gender environment. Our female treatment teams are single gender teams. The primary, individual, group, and family work is done with other female students and female staff. Much time throughout any given day involves single gender activities where students of both genders only spend time with their teammates until they are ready to titrate time into the co-ed milieu. The classroom is the only daily time period that is truly co-ed from day one in the program. We are also hearing from many east coast families that they are increasingly finding the expense and travel to western states to be difficult. As a not for profit school, Summit strives to provide scholarships to families in need, and is willing to offer significant scholarships to families of female students as we strive to maintain a reasonable female-to-male student ratio.
We are always paying close attention to the larger student community culture and the micro cultures on each team and in each dorm. The health and stability of student-to-student and student-to-staff relationships are a sign of organizational health, providing an alliance of adults and kids and increasing overall effectiveness of treatment services. To this end, we have been investing a great deal of time in a few areas this year. We have bolstered the range and frequency of student council run activities, events and initiatives. Todd Fiske, our Executive Director, has been running student council with the council representatives to create easier pathways to getting initiatives started and to give a clear message of the importance of student council. We have also been having routine community meetings with all staff and students in addition to dorm meetings. These meetings help maintain strong communication and keep the threads of our community fabric strong. These open dialogues promote genuine and transparent conversation between adults and students and among students. It is also a chance to help young people understand the true meaning of community and the interrelationship and impact of all members on each other. Lastly, we have added a “merit system” to our behavioral standards. Students can earn “merit bucks” by being observed to have gone “above and beyond” in day-to-day actions and ethics. These merit bucks can be used to purchase special items in a merit store or they can save them to be cashed in on a merit event at the end of each month (such as a trip to a local water park). This has been well received.
The health of our staff culture is completely integral with the health of the student culture. It’s a symbiotic relationship. Thus, maintaining a satisfied, productive and vibrant adult community is of great importance. We routinely receive staff feedback on areas of improvement and ideas for new innovations and initiatives. We are always opening the doors for staff that wish to utilize their interests and passions to reach students. Thus, there is a dynamic and ever-changing array of activities and student-staff engagements happening at Summit. The Clinical Director has been involved on a weekly basis in residential staff and teacher staff meetings as an additional supervisor, consultant and trainer on therapeutic integration of corrective relational work in the milieu and the classroom. We have increased our weekly opportunities for staff debriefing, transference/countertransference work, and training on practical clinical topics. Retention of valued employees is a priority. We are creating new avenues and “tiers” for employee vertical movement and advancement of skills.
Thanks for your continued support.
Dusty Cash, M.S.
Director of Business Development
Summit Prep School