The WinGate Philosophy for the Treatment of Troubled Teens
At WinGate, our philosophy in the effective treatment of troubled teens is to create an environment of responsiveness while reducing the resistance the troubled teen has toward change, authority, and himself or herself.
At WinGate, we believe in cooperation rather than confrontation. We have positive regard for every student, and work hard to gain insights into each individual. Although certain rules must be followed in order to maintain safety and overall program effectiveness, we also honor and respect each student’s own path.
Our nurturing yet challenging environment allows students to grow, gain perspective, and attain a new level of maturity as we address their specific behavioral issues and problems. We hope to create a heart of peace which replaces the heart of war.
The Wingate Model: Strengths Based - Natural Consequence Model
Through the Intermediate Health Care program, WinGate has developed a Strengths Based/Natural Consequence Model which empowers teenagers in constructive ways. It helps them look beyond their negative behaviors and struggles to see who they really are.
Our students learn to get along with others and cooperate while working toward common goals. Positive natural consequences serve as rewards for positive actions; hence, teenagers become internally motivated to act in constructive ways.
Other programs often establish a set of strict rules, demand adherence to those rules, and then impose negative consequences when the demands aren't met. Basically, it's like boot camp.
"...WinGate Wilderness Therapy is designed to provide experiences which helps students motivate themselves rather than trying to force compliance and adherence to a set of rules..."
We believe when students experience direct and natural consequences for their choices—positive as well as negative—they begin to act accordingly. By empowering teenagers with choice, they gain a sense of accomplishment, self-confidence, and self esteem. They exercise their independence and act autonomously while complying to rules and guidelines at the same time.
This type of change (sense of accomplishment) can't be given to the kids; it must be experienced and earned. In the wilderness we teach struggling kids to accomplish something they never dreamed they could. This type of experience resonates strongly, enhancing their self-worth and self-confidence; which is not something that can be accomplished in a traditional therapeutic residential setting. When kids in the wilderness conquer a hike, climb a long hill, or cook their own meal by starting their own bow drill fire... now that is a real accomplishment leading to long lasting internal change.
Building Skills and Relationships
The WinGate staff build the foundation for strong therapeutic relationships by teaching students skills that are enjoyable as well as useful, such as whittling, beading, crafting and stitching leather, starting a fire, cooking, wilderness hiking, and setting up a proper camp in order to stay safe and dry.
"After a few weeks of living in the wilderness together, students and staff experience a full range of emotions while building a strong sense of camaraderie within the group..."
Working side by side in a joint effort to reach common goals helps teens learn healthy patterns of communication that they can apply throughout the rest of their lives.
While a teen's idea of communication may have previously been restricted to halting acronyms and cryptic messages sent via modern technology. In other words, using Twitter to tweet a hundred of their closest friends.
At WinGate Wilderness Therapy, there are no cell phones, or computers, or video games. The environment is naturally conducive to personal, human-to-human communication. Teens actually talk with other teens openly and honestly while hiking, setting up camp, "busting" a fire, preparing meals and developing skills.
Our students are encouraged to open up even more during group therapy led by the same professional therapist they've been learning to trust during individual therapy. It is also the same therapist that has been talking with their parents every week as part of the process that helps re-unite families in healthy and positive ways.