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Day treatment pilot program successful in local schools

/p> Therapists Ashley Rhoads and Bailey Homstad are excited and passionate about the new day treatment program provided in a few Carlton County schools. The treatment is a branch of the school mental health services offered to students by the ...

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Therapists Ashley Rhoads and Bailey Homstad are excited and passionate about the new day treatment program provided in a few Carlton County schools.

The treatment is a branch of the school mental health services offered to students by the Human Development Center in Carlton County. Therapy in the schools has been successfully offered since 2007.

The new program fills a gap between the current individual services offered at local schools and all-day intensive treatment, which takes students out of their school and to Duluth. It is available for any student with a mental-health issue that is significantly interfering with their functioning.

As with all treatments, it is done on an individual basis, depending on the needs of the student involved. There are many reasons a student may be enrolled in the day treatment program, such as drug use, physical abuse, a death in the family or an auto accident.

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Many of the students are average teenagers going through an often short-term, but difficult, period in their lives. They may need guidance to learn how to communicate their needs more clearly and effectively, or even understand their needs themselves.

The new program adds students who are already participating in individual therapy but can also benefit from group therapy, which is more intense. For example, a group of students at Cloquet Area Alternative Education Program (CAAEP) attend individual therapy one hour, one day a week and meet in a group four days a week for two hours.

Students discuss a variety of relevant topics, such as depression, anxiety and relationships.

A group consists of three or more students of a similar age. For example, seventh- and eighth-graders can be in a group, but fifth- and eighth-graders can't because the age and developmental gaps are too large.

Students can be referred for treatment by a teacher contacting parents or by the parents themselves. Once consent has been given, the student is evaluated to see what needs to be done and put into the appropriate program.

Rhoads and Homstad are Cloquet High School alumni who want to give back to their school. Homstad is a licensed graduate social worker and master of social work degree outpatient therapist with HDC. Rhoads is a children's mental health practitioner and a master of social degree work intern with HDC.

The pilot program looks like it's doing very well so far, according to the women.

Homstad enjoys watching the students improve and eventually leave the program.

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"I like to see them return to "normal," Homstad said with a smile. "They're making new friends, regulating their emotions and their academics are improving."

Rhoads nodded in agreement.

"It's fun to watch their symptoms decrease," Rhoads said.

The day treatment program began in June 2017 and is available at Cloquet Middle School and CAAEP. The women are working with Moose Lake to begin the program there in the future. They are also looking at starting programs in local elementary schools. Students involved with the program during the school year continue to attend through the summer.

When an intervention can be done at a younger age, generally the treatment will also be shorter.

The women say they have been getting positive feedback from the students' parents also noticing improvements with their child.

While in treatment, the students, parents and the councilor set goals. Once the goals are met, the student is done with therapy.

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For more information, call Carlton County Human Development Center at (218) 879-4559.

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Related Topics: CARLTON COUNTY
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