Hillside's Unique Mental Health Programming

As we strive to provide the most effective ways to care for the children and families we serve at Hillside, we are constantly seeking new forms of therapies. Often, children and families respond to some therapeutic approaches and fail to do so with others. Hillside implemented Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) in 2005, and currently, it is the flagship treatment modality used with our children and families. Learn more about our treatment approaches below.

Diatectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Hillside is known for continuously implementing the most effective therapies and tools available to help the children and families in our care. Thanks to generous grants from the Jesse Parker Williams Foundation, we have been able to train our staff in Dialectical Behavior Therapy and continue with the training annually since 2005.

A proven treatment modality, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) shows positive results for many children experiencing mental health issues. At Hillside, we’ve seen positive outcomes with the DBT approach in some children who previously did not respond to other therapies. Behavioral science cannot offer any guarantees, but DBT gives us hope in areas where the outlook was previously bleak.

DBT for Children (DBT-C)

DBT-C is DBT that had been modified to address the treatment needs and developmental levels of children. DBT focuses on reducing emotional extremes, changing problematic thought patterns and teaching coping skills through a series of stages. This allows clients to regulate their emotions better, develop skills to live in the present and address the root problem. Part of DBT is also building a healthy lifestyle and working towards self-fulfillment. DBT is distinct from other therapies in that it strives to help the client find a balance between acceptance and change.

DBT was originally developed to treat individuals with borderline personality disorder. However, it is used to effectively treat clients with other diagnoses such as mood disorders, eating disorders, anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

DBT-C is based on the same DBT principles, but incorporates a caregiver element and focuses on the individual. Unlike our traditional DBT program, our DBT-C program does not involve group therapy. The main goals of DBT-C are to teach children adaptive coping skills and to teach their parents how to reinforce effective behaviors at home.

Theraplay® – Play Therapy for Adolescents

Recently Hillside began its newest undertaking in therapeutic treatment. Our continuing mission to provide innovative and effective care led us to seek and host training in Theraplay®, an interactive treatment for children and their families.

Theraplay® is a promising clinical treatment that has been shown to be extremely effective in working with children, adolescents, and families. Theraplay® is an engaging, playful, relationship-focused treatment method that is interactive, physical and fun.

Theraplay® involves parents and children playing together under the guidance of a trained therapist. The playful activities they engage in are designed to build self-esteem and provide challenges while enhancing the emotional connection between parent and child. Theraplay® is divided into nurturing activities and challenging ones for the child.

A child gains self-confidence and a feeling of security through Theraplay®. He or she learns by experience that parent-child relationships can be rewarding and positive. Parents gain new insights into the child’s emotional state and learn new ways to demonstrate their nurturing.

Horticulture Therapy

Horticultural Therapy is a formal practice that uses plants, horticultural activities, and the garden landscape to promote well-being for those engaging in the activities. Horticultural therapy is a time-proven practice and the cognitive and therapeutic benefits of garden environments for individuals with a mental illness have been documented since the early 19th century.

Horticulture Therapy sessions are administered by professionally trained Horticultural Therapists, like the certified Horticulture therapist we have on-site at Hillside. By participating in Horticulture Therapy, children enhance their self-esteem and self-worth through activities which engage exploration of nature, creative expression, and mindfulness. Horticultural Therapy instills positive metaphors for healing and reflection by witnessing the plant life-cycle with hands-on plant-related activities. It promotes socialization and provides purposeful activities that empower a sense of ownership and stewardship.

For instance, the children plant gardens throughout the campus. They grow vegetables and get to eat what they grow and share with family and staff. Making flower arrangements from flowers and greenery in the garden, propagating plants, composting, feeding birds and raising butterflies.

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