Academics play a central role in the lives of teens and young adults. While Paradigm is committed to treating the whole individual, we also take great pride in providing clients with effective coping strategies for when they return home. As such, we recognize the importance of academics as a part of our comprehensive treatment program, and we aim to provide our clients with the tools they need to excel academically both while they are here with us and long after they go home.
Academics as Part of the Whole Treatment Picture
Our approach to academic support at Paradigm is immersive and interactive. We don’t simply passively liaise with our clients’ schools. We actively collaborate with their academic institutions as needed so as to coordinate any scholastic modifications or workload requirements, thereby arming our clients with what they need to stay on track while at Paradigm. We aim to provide clients with meaningful advocacy and an individualized approach to learning. At Paradigm we understand that if teens and young adults find themselves here, then most likely what they have been doing to cope across all areas of their lives just is not working. As such, we aim to address the underlying issues facing each client, while also empowering them to lead the way. We endeavor to promote a sense of agency, independence and proactivity in our client population, and as such, we work with both parents and teens to confront their relationship to academics and how it impacts life at home. Our priority is to unearth the reasons why clients come to us, and how those underlying causes impact every area of our clients’ lives. Academics then becomes an important area for assessment, evaluation, insight development and growth, not simply catching up or keeping up for when clients return to their lives.
Our Classroom Environment
Because we recognize the potency of the classroom, we like to think of our learning environments as not only a place of enrichment and academic growth, but also an exploratory social lab in which we can closely assess how our teen and young adult clients interact with one another, and how they engage with schoolwork. The classroom then becomes a space in which academic learning and socio-emotional growth can happen simultaneously, and our ability to monitor and guide both processes in tandem can be deeply impactful for both staff and clients alike. The Paradigm classroom then becomes an invaluable treatment tool that empowers our clinicians to see how clients handle the highs and lows of a scholastic environment. Our motto is, when we can see it, we can treat it.
We offer three hours of school five days a week, while making space for therapeutic work such as individual sessions, family sessions, psychiatric evaluations and psychological tests as needed. Because our primary concern is the mental health and well-being of our clients, we make sure that while we prioritize academics as part of the larger framework of our program, that we are always making mental health our top priority. As such, our approach is non-traditional and nurturing. The scholastic culture we like to establish is one of quietude, serenity and productive, meaningful learning. Although we offer a minimum of three daily hours of academic work, we can of course facilitate more time if needed on a case-by-case basis. Productivity is measured individually, and while we take pride in providing a nourishing academic environment and one that promotes feelings of safety and well-being, this is not a time for formless socializing or slacking off. We always have a minimum of 2 staff members per class, and therapists also may sit in for observation from time to time and on an as-needed basis.
About the Paradigm Curriculum
Paradigm Treatment’s approach to offer tailored treatment based on each client’s unique story and needs is infused not only into therapeutic treatment, but into our scholastic curriculum as well. As such, we utilize learning as a means to also provide therapy, and vice versa. One such example of this is the practice of therapeutic memoir writing. We ask our clients to write a personal narrative in which they explore, explain and describe their life events and experiences, some of which may have contributed to their enrollment in our program. This strikes a number of profound chords in our program: the opportunity to strengthen creative writing skills, self-expression and narrative form and structure, while also emboldening our clients to take hold of the stories that have shaped their lives, so as to make sense of who they are and who they want to become. The personal narrative exercise is one of the most popular therapeutic practices we employ at Paradigm, which so happens to coincide with our scholastic approach as well.
Our curriculum is typically hybridized, collaborative and based on clients’ currently enrolled school requirements and related course load. We do not emphasize academic rigor, but rather increasing academic awareness. Part of our curriculum is built around not the schooling itself, but our clients’ complex relationships to school. As such, we focus on building resources, increasing and tapping into motivation, optimized social settings and greater access to viable learning tools as needed. Our view on the academic curricula we provide at Paradigm take a holistic view of our clients’ willingness to learn coupled with their inherent capabilities, and where the two intersect and overlap. We can work with our clients’ schools as well to modify coursework and lighten the load should any clients be grappling with acute mental health issues that take top priority while in our program. While we do not provide on-site tutors, if your child is working with tutors or coaches currently and you would like to have your child maintain contact, we can sometimes facilitate these requests on a case-by-case basis.
Watch our Director of Education and Transitional Planning, Matt Siegel’s YouTube interview here.