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5 Pillars of Change

At Turning Winds Academy we believe our clients’ success is most likely achieved through a combination of therapeutic and educational approaches that together provide the best outcomes possible for each troubled teen we treat at our school. These therapeutic approaches, many unique to our special boarding school environment, include character education, health and wellness of the body and mind, outdoor therapeutic experiential education, therapeutic and academic success, along with continuously improving each vital pillar of our world-class school through measuring outcomes in each area. Together, these constitute the 5 Pillars of Therapeutic Change.

1. Character Education and Life Skills: In our unique school environment, character is crucial. We believe that character acts as a vital anchor in the sea of our lives. It helps the troubled teens we serve grow to be consistent and to stand strong against the pressures they face each day. We model strength based self-management through our character education curriculum allowing the culture in our school to help facilitate positive change. Learning to manage self through character education brings the stability teens need for long-term success. Our observations show that teens who embrace character as a foundational part of their lives experience reduced intensity and frequency of maladaptive behaviors, episodes of acting out, impulsive actions, destructive tendencies, as well as a reduction of inappropriate peer relationships. In addition to our Character Education Curriculum, each teen attending our school also will learn and practice social skills including conflict resolution techniques, treating themselves and others with respect, and appropriate social interaction. Teens in our therapeutic school learn decision-making skills by working to set and attain goals, relying on their own knowledge and skills along with the knowledge and skills of others to address initiatives and projects, and participating in daily therapeutic group sessions dealing with issue resolution. Teens increase personal understanding by taking accountability for personal actions, planning and working toward personal goals, and recognizing personal successes. Students will ultimately gain insight into their previous behaviors and actions by nurturing a greater understanding of the impact of their actions. An important component in our character education is service. While attending, each teen will engage in the experience of participating in service activities where they will have the opportunity to give back to the community.

2. Health, Wellness, and Fitness: Many parents who are researching boarding schools often ask themselves questions about diet and exercise. We offer a different approach when it comes to health and wellness. We place a high priority on health and wellness and fitness. This focus has consistently produced conclusive outcomes in our clients’ self-worth, energy, drive, and mental and psychological health. Through the use of a nutritionist and our medical staff our students receive a healthy diet based on their individual needs. Our students receive routine health evaluations and have the opportunity to voice any concerns they may have to our medical staff in a timely manner. It is our philosophy that as TWAI students become physically healthy they are able to invest more of themselves emotionally, therefore engaging fully in the therapeutic process. Health and wellness and fitness are important tools we use to help facilitate change at our therapeutic school with the teens we work with. Our teens not only learn about the importance of nutrition and exercise as key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, they also live it. The TWAI campus lends itself to a plethora of fitness and adventure education activities. Our students engage routinely in team sports, individualized fitness programs, and outdoor experiential education as part of our school curriculum. These activities may include: volleyball, basketball, softball, swimming, weight training, aerobic exercises, mountain biking, yoga and backpacking.

3. Outdoor Education: If you are familiar with therapeutic boarding schools you may already know that many of them do not utilize the outdoors as much as they should in the therapeutic process. In fact, many similar schools are located in cities or areas where the outdoors is not very accessible. Nature’s playground is our backdoor. Through utilizing outdoor recreation in our school our teens experience the therapeutic effect of the great outdoors in a way that few will ever experience. TWAI uses the outdoors to combine adventure therapy, experiential education and psycho-educational therapy. Experiential learning is based on the belief that lasting change occurs when people are placed outside familiar situations of comfort and immersed in new and unique circumstances. In this way, students are participants rather than spectators and learn to appreciate the power of the great outdoors on our beautiful school campus. The vehicle we rely on to connect our students with the outdoors and the therapeutic experience of nature is our TREC (Turning Winds Recreation and Education Connection) program. TREC has helped hundreds of troubled teens excel through the boarding school experience. Through TREC our students are able to experience first-hand activities such as: Backcountry hiking, backpacking, mountain bike riding, white water rafting, fishing, snowshoeing, skiing/snowboarding, cross country skiing, and many other activities. Each activity is a therapeutic tool we use to teach important life-lessons such as endurance, team work, mental strength, and a list of others. Learning activities are real and meaningful in terms of natural consequences; reflection and problem-solving are vehicles for intellectual and emotional stimulation, and students are accountable for their own behaviors and insights. Outdoor education maximizes the experience for the teen boys and girls we serve. Maintaining a good balance between work and recreation is a top goal at the TWAI therapeutic school.

4. Therapeutic Success: Therapeutic boarding schools for troubled teens utilize therapy as a key part of change for teens who receive treatment. TWAI embraces a clinically driven, multi-disciplinary and individualized therapeutic approach. Our licensed professional clinicians assess each teen and participate with the student and her or his family to identify problem areas and then to develop individualized goals and objectives designed to guide the change and personal growth process. This therapeutic process is enhanced by engaging weekly in individualized therapy with a licensed clinician who is focused on the teen’s emotional growth and helping him or her achieve his or her clinical goals. We also utilize group therapy and psycho-educational group activities as an integral part of the therapeutic process. Group therapy sessions are facilitated by professional staff and are designed to address the primary emotional and social issues our teen boys and girls routinely face. These group therapy sessions are also used to address and facilitate clinical issues that have manifested during the therapeutic program process. We also use group therapy to address and facilitate addiction and recovery groups for those teens who may have substance abuse issues. Good boarding schools use group therapy and programmatic therapeutic experiences to provide the crutch our students need in order to stand on their own two feet again and to start making decisions that will bring them success and happiness long after attending TWAI’s life-changing program. The TWAI psycho-education curriculum is facilitated by our highly trained resident advisers. The curriculum addresses a variety of needs that a typical teen encounters as they transition from adolescence to adulthood. Curriculum subjects in psycho-education include independent living, social skills, substance abuse awareness, health, career development, boundaries, active listening and communication skills. TWAI is always incorporating new psycho-educational group topics into our curriculum based on specific individual needs and requests as well as industry research. By encouraging autonomy, practicing active listening, and conveying respect we demonstrate powerful and healthy relationship skills. Therefore, as students observe and evaluate our staff, they will be led to incorporate these traits into their own being. Through melding the many different therapeutic approaches applicable to our teen population we have raised the bar for therapeutic boarding schools for troubled teens.

5. Academic Achievement: TWAI offers a unique academic experience for the each teen we work with. Students who are enrolled with us experience a first-class individualized academic experience. Our research shows that while here our students earn an average GPA of 3.5, and in a 12 month time period our average student completes about 2 years of school while experiencing an increase in GPA of almost a full letter grade versus what their GPA was before coming to our world-class Montana boarding school. Our education process works! Our highly trained, board certified teachers assess the academic needs of each teen during the admission process, taking in account previous transcripts, learning disabilities, strengths, interests and any specific needs or accommodations as outlined in a student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP), when present. Under the direction of our professional education staff, our individualized academic program guides each student to academic success by strengthening the areas of academic weakness and capitalizing on the existing strengths of the student. As teachers work with each student, they develop individualized academic goals based on each student’s learning style, providing each student the best opportunity to experience academic success. Although many of our students come discouraged with their past educational experience, once here each student learns to excel academically because of our time tested one-on-one approach. In addition, our professional teachers are diligent about college prep and understand it is a topmost priority for our students who will graduate and receive their diploma from TWAI. Truly, academic success is an integral part of the experience for each of our teen boys and girls.

Measurable Outcomes, Boarding School Data: Many parents wonder and often ask, “Will my child change at a boarding school?” TWAI has successfully helped thousands of parents get therapeutic treatment for their teen boys and girls. Our treatment works and we can show you how. We continuously collect data to monitor and analyze our performance. Our process is designed to allow our skilled leadership team to perpetually identify and consider areas that are not meeting thresholds, develop plans for improvement, and track the implementation of such plans until performance deficiencies are resolved, thus increasing the effectiveness of our flagship therapeutic school. These areas are identified through the consideration of information provided by the data gathering process and relate to components of stability, risk, and sentinel events as well as priorities set by the Leadership Team. We utilize departmental and organizational performance measures to determine whether therapeutic approaches and modalities utilized and change initiatives produce desired outcomes in the troubled teen boys and girls we treat. These departmental performance measures also focus on individual academic success as well as comparison rates between TWAI testing scores based upon both State and National averages. TWAI employs an interdisciplinary workgroup model for activities requiring performance improvement. The interdisciplinary workgroup process utilizes the Quality Initiative format and involves various individuals throughout the program’s structure. In some cases, student input and involvement in decisions relating to processes that have an impact on their treatment will be utilized. At TWAI we understand the need to maintain an objective view of our success is paramount. It is for this reason, we carefully track each students progress academically, therapeutically and behaviorally, both while enrolled in our therapeutic boarding school and after returning home.

Program Description:
Learn how our 5 pillars of change will transform your teen’s life. TWAI is a program for troubled teenagers located in Montana and is a leader among therapeutic boarding schools. Although we are convenient to California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho, TWAI continues to help teens from every major continent.

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Contact Us: (800) 845-1380

Turning Winds Academic Institute
31733 S Fork Yaak Rd
Troy, Mt 59935


TWAI Corporate Office
6885 Bauman Rd
Bonners Ferry, Idaho 83805


Phone (800) 845-1380
International + 208-267-1500
Fax (208) 267-1600

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