Family Services provides comprehensive supports for families immersed in Deschutes Wilderness Therapy, Deschutes Young Adults, as well as independent families.
Comprehensive Supports Include:
- Family, couples, and individual intensives based on trauma-responsive relational care
- Parent coaching, family coaching, and multifamily regional skill-building workshops
For our immersive families, comprehensive support includes:
- In person family therapy visits
- In person family intensives
- Virtual parent coaching
Family involvement is an essential element of our programming here at Deschutes Wilderness Therapy. Family Services uses a family systems and attachment focused approach. While your child is in the field with our treatment team engaged in their therapeutic journey, Family Services supports your family in what is referred to as the “parallel process.” Through this process, you will be working on your own insight and skill development. Family dynamics and patterns will be explored, as well as how families communicate, manage conflict, establish boundaries and express their identities. Parent and caregiver involvement and growth and development are integral to overall success in our program and in what follows post-transition.
Intensives are customized to meet your individual and family's specific needs. Your family deserves an experience as unique as you are.
Intensives generally take place over 3-5 days.
Family Services works with families, couples, and individuals looking to:
- deepen relationship
- improve communication
- find new ways of connecting with each other
- establish new healthy boundaries
- learn how to be present
- regulate and engage with each other effectively
- strengthen bonds
Family Services works effectively with those who are committed, motivated and simply need to learn and practice implementing new tools and patterns.
- Family size of 2-6 participants *Note: can accommodate larger family if needed
- Ages 10+
- All races, religions, genders, LGBTQIA+
- Families who have a history of relationship challenges, attachment disruption, acute trauma, grief/ loss, stuck in unhealthy patterns, adoption, large changes in the family system or families with political or spiritual disagreements.
- All races, religions, genders, LGBTQIA+
- Ages 18+
- Couples with a history of relationship challenges, communication struggles, attachment disruption, acute trauma, grief/ loss, stuck in unhealthy patterns, couples with political or spiritual disagreements.
- All races, religions, genders, LGBTQIA+
- Ages 18- 99yo
- Individuals who want to deep dive into their internal work without the hour constraint of outpatient therapy. Individuals who are looking to uproot and process through trauma, address attachment wounds, understand their unhealthy patterns and how to implement change. Individuals who have a history of anxiety, depression, developmental trauma, acute trauma or trying to manage the challenges of life.
The Family Services Treatment Team
The Family Services Treatment Team consists of a:
- Family Intensive Coordinator
- Family Specialist
- Family Therapist
The Family Therapist
The family therapist provides the support within the intensive to:
- Deepen the therapeutic work, highlight patterns of dysfunction, and provide tools to help support the family to engage in a healthier connection.
- Support and guide the family prior to, during, and post-intensive. The family therapist will co-create the intensive goals with the current treatment team and with each family member. During the intensive, they facilitate in-depth family therapy, and individual, and/or couples counseling sessions for 4-5 hours each day.
- Work collaboratively with the family specialist to ensure a well-rounded and integrated intensive.
The Family Specialist
Family Specialists are integral to the intensive process. The specialist is there for three primary reasons.
- To create safety and security for the entire family system. They are there to support any family member and work to meet their needs during the process.
- To highlight patterns in the day-to-day activities and support new ways of engaging with corrective action or creative options on how to interact in a healthier manner.
- The specialist works hand in hand with the therapist to employ what is addressed and communicated during the clinical sessions and facilitate it in practice in real time. They participate in clinical sessions and work collaboratively with the therapist.
The Family Intensive coordinator
The Family Intensive Coordinator’s key role is to:
- Provide support for the family and the treatment team prior to the intensive.
- Communicate and inform the family about the intensive process and answer any questions that arise.
- Ensure that physical, dietary, and logistical needs are communicated by the family so the coordinator can personalize the experience of the intensive to be unique to that family
- Support the family from arrival to departure.
In an immersive experience, families explore how to better understand themselves, individual family members, and the patterns that shape the family unit. You will all explore how to communicate more effectively, and through this effective communication, families experience meaningful connection, compassion, and joy.
This intensive experience will begin to repair past hurts and work through dysfunctional family patterns. Additionally, it will prepare family members to utilize new skills back at home and prepare them to put therapeutic skills into practice with immersive support from the team.
Families will work with a therapist as they participate in experiential activities and learn from the challenges presented in that experience. In addition, your family will explore how these challenges in nature relate to more significant issues within the family system.
With the support of the family therapist and family specialist, intensives are a safe container to integrate what you’re working on with your therapist into practice as a family (or couple or individual). Intensives are a time to stumble, make mistakes, be creative and explore, and create new patterns and ways of being together.
This practice includes both everyday tasks (cooking, cleaning up after meals, etc.) and adventure activities/games (such as hiking, canoeing, games, etc.) For example:
- The family activity for the day is rafting. The themes we want to explore together are trust and communication
- How will we successfully get through this rapid? How will we need to work as a team? What’s our plan if someone falls out of the boat? How will we know when/if someone feels safe? Unsafe? How do we celebrate our successes as a family? How do we process/communicate when we don't achieve our goals?
- Cooking dinner one night. We want to work on re-imagining roles within the family and creating new family patterns.
- What unhealthy family dynamics have we gotten accustomed to or normalized overtime? Who usually does what around the house? What could we do differently? How are we supporting/not supporting one another throughout the process of cooking? How are we communicating, and is it supportive?
The team approaches intensives with a trauma informed and attachment-focused approach. Therapists utilize Emotionally Focused Family Therapy (EFFT), Family Systems Approach and somatic awareness practices. This may include Heartmath (TM) and mindfulness practices. Skills gained from these approaches enable the family to stay regulated within a distressful topic. The family then learns how to have a more secure and safe relationship.
For many families, this will be the most intense therapeutic experience they have participated. Intensives provide total immersion in the process without the distractions of everyday life, television, work, and more. A family intensive is a time to truly embody & practice the things that come up during sessions, which is a much more integrative (and effective) form of family therapy than classic talk therapy sessions.
A Sample Day in a Family Intensive
7 am – 8 am: wake-up time. Morning activities include self-care needs such as taking a walk, reading, meditation, religious practice.
8:30 am: make breakfast as a family at 8:30.
9:30 therapist arrives. Morning check-in and initial session.
12:30 pm: Lunch
1 pm-3 pm second therapy session.
3 pm-6pm: experiential activity with family specialist.
6:30 make dinner as a family.
8:30 game and family wind-down time.
Note: In the summer we can incorporate experiential with clinical like you might go rafting at 1pm and incorporate therapy into the experience.
Activities During a Family Intensive
Central Oregon is a hub for outdoor adventure and exploration. Families can choose seasonally between lots of different activities, including hiking, rafting, canoeing, caving, rock climbing, spelunking, nature bathing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and biking, to name a few. Activities can include card games, board games, cooking, art, music, and wilderness skills like carving, bow drilling, shelter making, and plant, tree, animal, and bug identification. We can do just about anything that a family is interested and excited about doing!
Location and Lodging
Located in beautiful central Oregon, location options are numerous and varied and can include more backcountry camping, rustic cabins or more comfortable housing. The Deschutes admissions team will work with the family to determine the best option to meet their specific and unique needs.
While mostly happen in OR team can fully customize intensives in a location that is desirable for you families needs.
The student is the focal point on the calls with the therapist, even when you are doing the family work. “What is the therapeutic work they are doing, and what work do I need to do to work better for them.”
Parent coaching is an essential part of the process of addressing needed changes in the family system.
While parent coaching centers on the student, the focus is on how you parent. Coaching allows parents to show up with their own experiences in the their journey. Parent coaching will touch on your family of origin, or put another way, how you were raised and how your upbringing plays a part in your parenting style today.
Parent coaching emphasizes doing your therapeutic work as part of the parallel process. An excellent analogy is that we are not just focusing on repairing one part of the clock but fixing the whole clock because we want to work on the entire family system.
The main distinction between the weekly call with your child's primary therapist and parent coaching is that the primary therapist call is about what you need to do to best support your child. The coaching is how you step into your past and your own work so that you can start to show up differently for your child and the primary therapist to engage in more healthy communication.
All parent coaches are licensed therapists, which aligns with our trauma and attachment-based therapeutic model. It goes beyond just learning "skills "and steps into helping you regulate and guiding you in your growth and healing.
Therapeutic Family Visit
Approximately halfway through a student's process in the immersive wilderness experience, the team facilitates a family therapy day.
Day One - Family Workshop
A family therapist will conduct a five-hour family workshop. Depending on enrollments, this could be with multiple families (between two-four). During the workshop, you will:
Learn about how to regulate and understand CASA (Commitment, Attunement, Security, Acceptance) more effectively. You will have the opportunity to practice some things they will experience the next day in the field with your child.
Learn, and practice with other families. You will connect with other families at the workshop and feel less alone in this experience. Families are encouraged to stay connected after their time here at Deschutes, and many form strong bonds as they embark on this visit together.
Day two - Family therapy day in the field (two parts)
Part one: You will engage in an experiential activity with your child facilitated by a field instructor and supported by a family therapist. There will be both multifamily and single-family experiential activities. The multifamily activity could be, for example, an intro circle, where everyone meets and connects and shares something about themselves. Another example is the blindfolded hike, where parents are blindfolded, and your child leads you into the intro circle.
The experiential activity could include primitive skills such as shelter building or fire building, where the family works together and steps into communication and regulation as challenges surface.
Part two: You will have a two-hour session with your child's primary therapist. A special closing ceremony follows this, and you then leave the field and head back to the office.
Family Services Therapeutic Approach/Relational Approach (The How)
The CASA Model is integral in stepping into the relationship with others and self. Everything Family Services does can be cradled into the framework of CASA.
- Commitment- Showing up for others or yourself. How can you be present in the family, with your partner or with yourself?
- Acceptance- Of the person, not the behavior. Where do you struggle to accept a person, how do you step into acceptance when values differ?
- Security- Creating healthy boundaries, establishing personal boundaries and how to uphold them to create safety in self and in relationships.
- Attunement- Being with self, being with loved ones, feeling with your loved one without fixing or changing
When we can step into these actions, we can learn how to co-regulate. When we can be co-regulated with, we feel seen, heard, understood, worthy- building self-esteem. When we build self-worth/ self-esteem we open the opportunity for self-regulation.
When we engage in family, couple or individual work within Family Services, we are working towards creating secure bonds.
Meet the Family Services Team
"They (Family Services team) wasted no time getting directly into difficult conversations, and our daughter started sharing things she’d never been able to share before. We all wanted more, and we wanted to start healing as a family. Those days were about being together, present, sharing, truth, understanding/acceptance, and being vulnerable."
"The (Family Services) team created a space where we could share things with each other we’d never been able to before. The work was difficult, and we were exhausted at the end of each day, but it was amazing."
"We have a lot to continue working through as our oldest daughter is now in therapeutic boarding school, but we left the family intensive with so much hope for the future!"
"....it seemed like our eyes had been opened, and we asked ourselves why we hadn’t been able to do this sooner! Not that it was easy, but the team made it seem simpler. That is a credit to the family intensive program. We would have loved to have that team around us forever!"
"I would like to send a HUGE thank you and kudos to your whole team at Family Services, and especially Erik and Savanna. They put together an amazing 4 days of cooking, games, hiking, downtime, and therapy. We grew as a family and got a chance to practice all our new skills as a family. The 4-day family intensive was a priceless experience."