Woodward Academy continues to utilize one of the strongest evidence-based practices in today’s field: the cognitive-behavioral approach. The brains of adolescent youth are still growing. In a therapeutic community there are many opportunities to build pro-social neural pathways in the brain, particularly in the thinking and judgment-centers of the prefrontal cortex. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) then becomes the strongest theory within our normative culture. CBT is based on the scientifically supported assumption that most emotional and behavioral reactions are learned. Therefore, the goal of therapy at the Academy is to help students unlearn their unwanted reactions and to learn new ways of responding to problems. The educational emphasis of CBT has an additional benefit, as it leads to long term results. When students understand how and why they are doing well, they can continue practicing these patterns to improve themselves. Within the residential setting, students are allowed to practice and gain support for these challenges. The positive response to these challenges then becomes habit with daily practice over a period of several months. The Cognitive-Behavioral components that are given the highest priority are those focusing on cognitive distortions, thinking errors, social skills, empathy, and relapse prevention. Students complete a four-phase written workbook addressing thinking errors, cognitive restructuring, and behavioral change.
Clarification and Victim – Offender Reunification Sessions
Woodward Academy offers Clarification and Victim/Offender reunification sessions. The Clarification sessions are designed to provide a safe forum for family members to openly discuss the sex offenses that occurred. Typically, this is the first opportunity for the offender, victim, and other family members to safely and directly address the abusive behavior as a family. More specifically, during the clarification session, the offender verbalizes full responsibility for the sexual abuse, and describes, in varying degrees, details about what they had done, grooming behaviors, abuse of power, and additional means utilized to manipulate the victim and others. The acknowledgement of harm is addressed, and open disclosure and reducing secrecy is emphasized. In addition, during the clarification session, the victim and other family members have the opportunity to ask questions of the offender.
Outpatient Mental Health
Woodward Academy provides an outpatient program that involves the evaluation and treatment for the children, adolescents and adults in our community. Services include counseling and therapy for adults and youth with a wide range of concerns including anxiety, depression, trauma, relationship issues, ADHD, addiction and substance abuse, low self-esteem and/or serious and persistent mental health concerns.