When I graduated from high school, I reached back out to the founder of the residential treatment center and asked him if I could intern for the summer before college. It was still the same small, six bed home, so I moved to California for the summer and subsequently spent the next 11 years working full time throughout college and after. I helped him grow it from a small treatment center into what’s known today as the gold standard for residential care, and that was an incredible journey.
I got to witness so many people like me heal and make a full recovery, which was so inspiring and kept me wanting to continue to build that treatment center. But no matter how quickly we built, we could never keep up with the demand. Every single day we had more people on the waitlist than we had in treatment. When I left it was 300 beds, which means we could help a couple of thousand kids a year. But what we know is that in our country, there are millions of kids who are struggling and need access to care. I knew that building a residential treatment center for a million kids would be impossible and cost prohibitive, but I wanted to create something that was accessible to everyone so that everyone would be able to experience the same life saving care that I did when I was 17 years old.
There are many evidence-based practices for trauma treatment, and it’s really about figuring out what works for you. I used to say that it was like throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks. We can expose you to TF-CBT (trauma focused CBT) and that really works for some people. For me, I didn’t love TF-CBT, but I loved EMDR which is eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. It’s a form of psychotherapy that was developed in the 1980’s but has only become popular recently, designed to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories.
You can actually deliver it virtually, which we learned during COVID, and it’s just as effective. For me, a lot of somatic therapies were really helpful as well. I needed to learn how to be back in my body. Getting back into your body and feeling again is an important part of recovery, as long as you’re safe and supported while doing that.