Co-Ed Therapy is Essential for Girl’s Growth at Cedar Ridge Residential Treatment Center for U.S. and International Students
By: Rob Nielson, Program Director
Students at Cedar Ridge Residential Treatment Center Benefit from Many Years Experience Administrating a Successful Co-ed Program
There are very few operating therapeutic programs that possess the depth of experience that Cedar Ridge Residential Treatment Center has accumulated from working with teens – especially adolescent girls. I founded Cedar Ridge after working as a therapist at an all-girl’s program (which eventually became co-ed). Including that position, I can now count over twenty years experience working with girls – most of them in a co-ed setting. My cumulative experience in this matter is what I am basing this article on.
Cedar Ridge Therapists Help Adolescent Girls Move Toward Healthy Relationships with Boys
Most of the girls in the program I mentioned working with had been involved with some very “bad” boys. The girls had limited experience with which to make informed judgments about character qualities and what one could expect from the various behaviors boys engage in. Most girls currently entering treatment still present with major issues concerning boys. Helping them move past these highly destructive relationships requires a lot of savvy from the therapists involved because, despite these girls often reporting how upsetting these relationships were to them, there remains a strong tendency to return to the familiar and re-engage with the same boy or one with a similar profile. Hooking up with a “bad” boy or a “mostly good” boy who only does a little bad (like smoking pot) will mean that the girl will rarely do better than the boy she was with.
Group Therapy at Cedar Ridge Provides Girls with Positive Relationship Tools
The process of therapy, especially group therapy, results in a much better understanding of what makes people tick. Gaining effective tools with which to recognize motivations behind other people’s behavior gives students an upper edge in interpersonal relationships. The very “bad boys” I referred to are not the type of boys we admit here at Cedar Ridge Academy, but the ones we do admit provide the girls in our program a lot of experience with which to understand more deeply, and discriminate better, what kind of treatment they can expect – based on what they learn here. Without the advantage of having groups that involve both genders, this learning experience is thwarted.
Cedar Ridge Academy Co-ed program provides girls with knowledge while allowing them to effectively deal with specific gender-related issues
My biggest initial concern with a co-ed program was making sure that the two genders didn’t get together inappropriately. I am sure this issue is also high on the list with parents. While it is still high on my list of importance, I no longer feel concern. This is because the Cedar Ridge Academy staff does a good job of managing this. On the other hand, the knowledge that the girls gain through the proximity of the other gender far outweighs downsides often cited regarding co-ed.
An all-girls program is easier to run since the girls are not distracted in school around boys – or around boys in general. I am aware of this energy and agree that it initially presents itself with a few of the girls at Cedar Ridge. If it seems too distracting, we simply move the girl into a room that doesn’t have boys present. Most of the girls seem to benefit from having boys around because they are then more motivated to behave well around the boys. (This principle is true for boys as well). Those that are distracted allow us to address this issue in therapy. Without boys around, there would be no chance for this behavior to surface. Feelings that stay repressed remain just as strong as they were when the student first arrived. Being in an all-girls program could keep female students safe while allowing for some growth, but that would not deal with specific issues related to the other gender nearly as well as a competent co-ed program. In treatment settings, it is important that unresolved issues become triggered in the client. This allows the feelings to surface so that the treatment team, staff, and therapists that work with the student can address them.
Boys and girls homes are physically separated on Cedar Ridge campus. Co-ed activities are planned for high-level students
There is a large physical separation between the girl’s and boy’s homes on our campus. For the most part, it feels like two separate campuses. Most interactions with boys happen after both genders have advanced themselves in the program. Higher level students display more empathy and have more tools to use in the co-ed group processes or activities they participate in. Newly arriving girls have therapeutic work to do before they can effectively handle this. As the primary girl’s home therapist, I look forward to when my clients are developmentally ready to effectively tackle their issues with the opposite gender. Usually, this is the most important task at hand.
Cedar Ridge Academy has been operating since 1996. We offer a vast amount of experience administrating a successful co-ed program. This experience makes us better at what we do.
“Katie’s college graduation is the perfect occasion to share with you how important her stay with you was and how it contributed to where she is today. It’s been eight years since her return [From Cedar Ridge] and I watch her grow every day into a responsible, caring, hardworking, grounded and faith-filled woman.” – C.F. (Parent)