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RAD and Butterflies

I have spent countless hours preparing eloquent presentations of the attachment process and what could go wrong with this process for parents.  I speak about the beautiful and dynamic interplay between child and caregiver through those first moments of life and into early childhood that create and prune connections within the brain.  I educate about how this process creates a loving, reciprocal, and emotionally insightful individual in the best of circumstances; that our brains are set to receive this developmental process, but are not preprogrammed to function in this way in the absence of a healthy reciprocal relationship.  I then work to very carefully validate the experience of disappointment, heartbreak and even horror when trying to parent a child whose attachment process has been disrupted by abuse, neglect, or parental mental illness. 

Ethan’s story…

We could write a million things about Ethan – his passion for the outdoors and photography, his kind heart and amazing talents…Like all of the kids we serve at Northwest Passage, Ethan became our kid for the short time he was in our program. His successes became our successes, and reinforced that hopeful feeling that the children and teens we serve are worth so much investment.

Northwest Passage represented at Webster 4th of July Parade

For the first time in history, Northwest Passage was part of community Fourth of July festivities in the Village of Webster. Representing Northwest Passage were our kids from Northwest Passage II and Northwest Passage III, as well as staff, interns, and NWP Executive Director Mark Elliott.

The Power of Pilates

by Lisa Courchaine, CAPSW  Northwest Passage III Therapist  Ok I admit it, I began practicing Pilates 10 years ago because it was the” hip” new workout, and I was curious what all the buzz was about.  Over time, I have realized the many benefits Pilates has to offer, and recent studies suggest the same.  For instance, in a recent study, college students participated in a 15 week movement based class on Pilates, Taiji quan, or GYROKINESIS.  Results found that overall; these students had increased levels of mindfulness, which were associated with improved sleep, self-regulation, mood, and perception of stress.  Now, first things first, according to Marsha M. Linehan, who brilliantly developed Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), the core concept of mindfulness is all about being able to pay attention, non-judgmentally to the present moment. After reading about the study, I was intrigued to research exactly how the movement based classes increased levels of mindfulness.  When looking at the core principles of Pilates, I found numerous connections to the mental health world, particularly DBT, which is the core treatment modality we use with the girls at Northwest Passage III.  The first core principle of Pilates is Concentration, as it requires intense focus on your entire body throughout the entire routine, which is an excellent way to actively distract oneself from intense emotions,

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Assessing for Pediatric Mania | Part 1 of 2

by Dr. Himanshu Agrawal, MD.   Disclaimer: This blog is merely a personal opinion about psychiatric issues.It does not equate to a psychiatric consultation and does not imply doctor-patient relationship. In my humble opinion, in the world of Child Psychiatry, there is nothing murkier than the answer to this question “What does pediatric mania look like?” It seems that there are several differing opinions endorsed by different schools of thought spread across USA.

Using Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) Principles in Daily Life | Part 3 of 3

by: Kira Yanko, MS, LPC  |  Northwest Passage III Therapist Don’t Have a Cow?! For therapists like me, thankfully DBT is highly structured.  There are times in every clinician’s work that we are challenged and these difficulties lead to self doubt.  In addition to hashing this out through consultation, DBT’s stages and targets allow for grounding and focus in session.  They provide a framework to approach clients and guide treatment.  This is especially important when working with clients who are emotionally dysregulated because often they will enter session with a new “COW” (Crisis Of the Week) that they would like to discuss.  Often these are chaotic and crisis ridden problems that are loosely related to the overall goals of treatment.  As such, it would be easy to spend each week addressing these COWs and never get to the gestalt, to the greater pattern of underlying distress, and the need to build a live worth living.  Avoiding COWs is a term I heard in a training several years back.  In my own practice, I tend to refer to these as “shiny objects” because it is easy to become super distracted by them in session.  The stages and targets of DBT help provide a framework to make COWs or “shiny objects” less clinically alluring.  They also offer guidance to what problems areas

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Lifestyle, Mental Health and the New Year’s Resolution Syndrome

by Dr. David Ammend  As a general pediatrician by training, I have been taught to try to look at children as a whole when attending to their health needs.  In my role as Medical Director of Northwest Passage residential treatment programs over the past 18 years, my practice has been focused on the health of children with a very particular set of problems, and there can be a tendency for me to pay insufficient attention to children’s general health as we are sometimes faced with a child and family in extreme distress due to mental illness.  However, my ability to keep the “whole child” in mind has been sharpened by the growing recognition that it is exactly the issue of “lifestyle” in its broadest sense has a profound impact on mental health.  Here I would like to discuss some of the challenges that anyone involved with the care of children face when trying to promote a “healthy lifestyle”. Over the past 5-6 years I have been working with some of my Northwest Passage colleagues to better understand the role of a healthy diet and physical activity in promoting mental health, and to use that knowledge to inform our work with the kids we serve.  What has become increasingly clear to me over that time is that there is a large

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Diagnosis Versus Identity

This bit of reflection is dedicated to a beautiful soul who left this world much too early. I have been searching for a way to honor the footprints she left and this blog seems to be an appropriate stage. My experience walking…

Northwest Passage presents at annual NATSAP conference

Dr. Himanshu Agrawal and Angela Frederickson speak on addressing suicidal and self harming behaviors. This year’s annual NATSAP conference was held February 6-8 in Henderson Nevada. The conference is a great event that presents useful information to mental health professionals, including clinicians, program directors and more. This year, Northwest Passage was able to send two staff members to the conference for to present a short program “I’ll be the Death of Me”. NWP’s on-staff psychiatrist, Dr. Himanshu Agrawal, as well as our clinical director Angela Frederickson, spoke to a room full of mental health professionals about assessing and addressing chronic suicidal and self injurious behaviors with adolescents. The program more specifically focused on the addressing and  assessment of the current emotional state in suicidal clients and the use of tools to more effectively increase insight into the precursors to self-harm and suicidal behaviors. They discussed a specific approach to use with clients engaging in these behaviors, including application of the Stages of Change model. Topics of discussion included methods of training, communication, and ongoing consultation within a multi-disciplinary team that promotes critical uniformity among responses. The presentation included a theoretical framework and information about current research and best practice models, while also following the specific case of a teenage girl.

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