Family Therapy

At Mountain Valley, we recognize that the families of our residents need support, too.  Many families, especially those with children who have been suffering from OCD and anxiety symptoms for a long time, want help learning how to communicate more effectively with their children – and need education on how they have been unknowingly accommodating their children’s anxiety and OCD – and what to expect during the transition out of Mountain Valley.

When a family member’s world has become incredibly small due to their worries, fears and thoughts, stress and strain can permeate the entire family system.  For adolescents and emerging adults who should be in school – but can’t get to school or, if they do, can’t stay there long – life can be challenging.  Parents need to get to work and other children may need to get to activities or school.  Life has to go on.

Many families have been able to adjust somewhat to the turmoil and strain by making accommodations for their child who is suffering.  This is understandable and common.  This “family accommodation” or “maintenance” of the anxiety or obsessive-compulsive behaviors does not lead to long-term symptom reduction and will ultimately increase and entrench the behaviors.  Allowing a child to stay home from school, meeting a child in the school parking lot at lunch time because their social anxiety is such that they cannot go into the lunch room, or waking a child up early to complete their rituals before school so they won’t be late, are just a few examples with which many Mountain Valley parents struggle.

Mountain Valley’s family therapy and family education is comprehensive – and specific to helping with all the above challenges – and is integrated with exposure therapy and the clinical curriculum.  Immediately upon enrollment, families will be contacted by their assigned Mountain Valley therapist to set up regular, weekly phone and/or video conferencing.  During these sessions, parents receive updates on how the child is doing in the different program components of Mountain Valley, treatment goals are reviewed and/or updated, and the prescribing of assignments for parents may be given.  After the first few initial calls, the child will also join the call and/or video conference.  Specific education around where anxiety comes from, what happens in the body when debilitating fears, thoughts and worries are occurring and how to manage it all – and how to not accommodate it – are addressed within our family curriculum.  The family education curriculum is tailored to individual families’ needs, and is comprised of educational content from our aftercare collaborator, Homeward Bound and the Not by Chance™ program.  Mountain Valley specific content and Not by Chance™ content are delivered via a subscription to the on-line platform, Family Bridge™ and are offered to every family upon enrollment.

As the child – and the parents – progress through the Mountain Valley treatment phase, specific experiential assignments may also be prescribed by the assigned therapist.  This could include visits to campus or activities with one’s child off-campus.  Some residents may even go home for a few days during the course of treatment for individualized work, to include touring schools, interviewing for summer jobs, driving the family car in preparation for a driver’s test, or medical specialist appointments.

We encourage all families – parents and teens included – to contact participants in our Parent Partners program to inquire about family therapy, family work and other topics in preparation for a child’s arrival at Mountain Valley.  To learn more about Parent Partners, contact Jen Fullerton at jfullerton@nullmountainvalleytreatment.org.