Summit Achievement Team Presents on Adventure Therapy and Academics

Summit Achievement’s team was hard at work last month, preparing for and presenting at the Northeast NATSAP Conference. Presentation topics included those near and dear to the Summit model: Adventure Therapy and Blended Learning. The Northeast Regional NATSAP (National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs) conference took place in Newport Rhode Island, on October 25th and 26th. 

Summit therapist Kayleigh Higginbottom, LCSW, presented as part of a panel discussion of professionals in the field entitled “Healing the Epidemic: Healing the Epidemic: Different Approaches to Anxiety Treatment Across the Continuum of Care.” The panel was moderated by Will White, one of Summit’s founders and current program consultant, and featured Higginbottom along with clinicians from Shortridge Academy and Mountain Valley Treatment Center (both located in New Hampshire). The perspective that Kayleigh brought about Adventure Therapy and its effectiveness in treating students with anxiety was directly informed not only by her academic study of the field in graduate school at the University of New Hampshire, but also by specific case studies from her time working with students at Summit Achievement and Summit Traverse who are struggling with anxiety. Among other benefits to Adventure Therapy, Kayleigh discussed how it can help to build self confidence and resilience in adolescents. 

Another Summit therapist, Mike DeLuca, LCSW, alongside Summit’s Academic Director, Doug Dobkowski, M.Ed, also presented at the conference. Their talk, presented with Kristen Bertram, Educational Consultant at the Bertram Group, was titled “Staying On Track: How Academics Can Be Part Of The Treatment Plan.” Their presentation highlighted the importance of including academics in residential treatment for adolescents. When clinically possible, they argued, academics need to be part of the treatment program, allowing students to not only stay on track as much as possible, but also so that therapeutic tools in treatment can be integrated directly into the classroom. It is important that teens in treatment build tools to deal with their emotions and stressors in life, and for most teens, school (whether the academics or the social dynamics– or both!) is a major stressor! Furthermore, Dobkowski laid out the specific model used at Summit Achievement and Summit Traverse called “Blended Learning,” wherein students are able to access an individualized, grade-appropriate curriculum with the support of peers and subject specific teachers. Blended Learning is a powerful tool for students at Summit and other programs, because it allows students to stay focused on individualized academic goals, while simulating a “traditional” classroom environment as much as possible. 

It is always an honor to have the opportunity to present in front of colleagues and other professionals, and Summit is pleased that members of our team were able to use their work in our programs to inform presentations at this recent conference. Kayleigh, Mike, and Doug, as well as the rest of our team, look forward to future conferences and opportunities to both learn and share!