Greenbrier Academy is a therapeutic boarding school for troubled teen girls that specialize in helping people understand the relationships they have with themselves, with others and with their environment.
A major quality that all of the students have in common is how they use their body, food, academics, substances, and other environmental factors as control mechanisms. In short, it seems that when people struggle with intimate relationships – from developing infants to mature adults – there is a strong tendency to use environmental tools to help ease our troubles.
In other words, sex, drugs, food, shopping, self-harm and more can and often are used to mediate a person’s pain.
We help our students and families continue to understand the intentions that motivate these control mechanisms through individual, family, and group therapy. We ask our therapists to continue to keep up with the most recent therapeutic treatments for the many different forms of struggles our students face.
Greenbrier’s therapeutic boarding academy utilizes a multi-layered relational approach to support addiction recovery. Many recovery systems tend to deal with substance abuse issues from a cause-and-effect perspective or a narcissistic approach. They teach kids about how they need to take care of themselves and do what makes them feel better.
This obviously can give a person struggling with substance abuse the impression that taking care of “number one” remains the most important priority. This is where the term “dry drunk” comes from; a person will stop drinking only to start something else with just as hurtful effects. With other forms of treatment, clients are asked to thoroughly examine how drugs and alcohol have affected their lives, as if just realizing the cause and effect will somehow make them sober.
The treatment philosophy utilized at Greenbrier Academy for Girls encompasses a much broader spectrum.
From the beginning, a student experiences various therapeutic exercises designed to help her examine what she wants at the deepest level. Other discussions, lectures, and philosophical seminars are presented during this initial phase with the intent of challenging the value systems that she held prior to entering treatment. As the student begins to clarify her true desires, discussions around how substances have helped or hindered the obtaining of her life goals are introduced. Gradually, she is led through experiences that help her to recognize how many relational dimensions were harmed by the preoccupation and use of substances.
As an example, initial individual work might focus on intrapersonal conflicts, i.e. “If I use I will feel better, but if I use I will get in trouble, which makes me feel worse”. This would lead to an investigation of how interpersonal relationships were compromised. If the student had a belief in something greater than herself, she might be led through guided imagery experiences to help her internalize what message an all loving, benevolent higher power would have in regards to her substance abuse.
As treatment progresses, she would be invited to examine how relationships that have not yet materialized would be affected by the choices she is making today, i.e. a future loving relationship, children that she may yet birth or children she may want to adopt.
Through examining her choices in the context of many different environments and relationships, girls at Greenbrier develops a much clearer picture about what they really want in their life and what it will take to achieve those goals.It has been our experience that this approach creates an intense desire for sobriety. This can be augmented in the later stages of treatment by introducing her to more traditional forms of ongoing aftercare support, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.
Greenbrier girls have also reported that they have had a “dialectic” experience as a result of this approach to treatment, where they find that even contemplating “old” choices creates internal conflict. Some of the above treatments would apply to a eating disorder recovery and body image issues as well. After a thorough medical screening, our Medical Coordinator speaks individually with each student on her specific health and medical issues.
We utilize a holistic approach to support our students with these issues, and depending on the severity, we apply individualized protocols to insure our girls maintain a healthy lifestyle. This could include random weigh-ins (in addition to the weekly weigh-ins), monitoring the food choices the girls make at mealtime, observation after meals, or possibly monitoring the girls during restroom breaks. We also have these students’ B-12 and nutrition levels checked regularly, as well as monitoring skin tone, eyes, mouth and hair.