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Inspire and Empower Change with Casey Cherry and Megan Hourigan

August 19, 2019

Danny interviews Casey and Megan about the Teen Residential Program at Cascade Canyon.

Dan Colella: Hello everybody and welcome to the Sandstone Care: Inspire and Empower Change live broadcast. Today, we are at the Cascade Canyon location with this beautiful mountain scenery behind us and the Cascade Canyon Treatment Center is a residential teen treatment, substance abuse treatment center located in Cascade, Colorado. And today I’ve got two amazing staff members with me down here. We have the program director and a primary therapist and I’m going to let them introduce themselves and what they do here. But today if you’re watching and you’re a family member or a loved one, we’ve got some great information about what to expect with this program, so pay attention.

Casey Cherry: Yeah.

Dan Colella: Go ahead.

Casey Cherry: Yeah. So, I’m Casey Cherry. I’m the Program Director here at Cascade Canyon. My primary role is really on the forefront to make sure that your teen is the right fit for this program. We’re going to do a lot of vetting out. I’m going to probably call your teen up and ask them a lot of questions, make sure that their motivation is in the right place and that we’re really there to support them so that when they come on day one and we’re ready to rock and roll, I’m preparing my team, staff member’s, primary therapist, techs to know who your teen is before they even get here and we’re ready to just serve them as soon as they walk through those doors. So that’s probably my primary role. I’m also a contact for you as well throughout the 30 day stay or so that your teens here to be able to check in and give you information on whatever it is, so …

Dan Colella: Love it.

Casey Cherry: Yeah.

Megan Hourigan: Yeah. And I’m Megan Hourigan. I am the Primary Therapist here and I get to run the groups and meet with the teens individually a couple of times a week. I do some assessments with them when they first get here and I’m also a contact person for you throughout the program. We have a family therapist who does most of the family therapy work, but I am available throughout the whole program and love to have consistent communication with families as well.

Dan Colella: Love it. Love the work you guys do down here and again, let’s just admire the the mountains off the front porch. Beautiful. So Casey, when working with parents who are confused, scared and frustrated, what do you find eases those concerns when they finally reach out for assistance with their teen?

Casey Cherry: Yeah, I think it really is the fact that we understand where you’re at. We understand what you’ve gone through over the past several years and we’re ready to roll up our sleeves and support you in any way that we can. We’re going to link arms with you and partner with you and walk this journey with you. We’re going to encourage you and your teen as well. And we’re going to do  everything we can to make sure that when they leave and they’re discharged here, that they have success in their relationships and in their family life.

Dan Colella: Love that. And Megan, Sandstone Care offers age specific treatment. Can you speak about some of the treatment modalities that you use that prove to be very beneficial for a younger population?

Megan Hourigan: Yeah, absolutely. I think … So, a couple things. For one, we have a really big experiential components to our program, which is really popular amongst the teens. So, lots of going off site, doing different activities. We go to the Wolf sanctuary, we go to Cave of the Winds, we do equine therapy and then also group therapy, because teens are at such an age where their teens are the biggest … Their fellow peers are the biggest influence on them. And so while they’re here, really the goal is to channel that. We know that about teens, that peer influence and peer pressure is such a big thing that they’re dealing with. And so we try to channel that and to really support them to be a positive influence with each other in group. And then the topics that we cover in groupare very, just what teens are experiencing right now. Social media issues, dating, relationship, all the things that are really the biggest things for them right now.

Dan Colella: Yeah. So what I’m hearing is this is programming that’s really around the things a teen is dealing with in their life?

Megan Hourigan: Absolutely, yeah.

Dan Colella: And that’s the beauty of really seeking out a specific age program that’s going to meet that teen where they’re at, the problems that they’re experiencing today. And that’s why Sandstone Care is really that specialist.

Megan Hourigan: Yeah. And being able to practice new skills now. So, if they’re having conflict with another peer here, practicing communicating about that now, because they’re experiencing it here as well.

Dan Colella: Try and fail here, right?

Megan Hourigan: Yeah.

Dan Colella: Love it. So Casey, what process does the family play in the treatment of their teen? And talk a little bit about this family immersion weekend.

Casey Cherry: Yeah. Now, it’s huge. I think it’s part … The most unique components our program is this family immersion piece. We say that your kid is not dry cleaning, that you drop them off and we press them and then give them back to you, but that … You really play an active role in the recovery and the support of your teen. And so we invite you here. Along the way, we’re going to have a ton of touch points with you, family counseling, individual counseling, things like that that we can really understand how to support you for once you leave. But you’ll also be invited here for three days throughout the month to be able to learn what your kid is learning, be able to practice with them, some of the skills that they’re learning. Go on these experientials with them and understand that once you leave here, you’re set up to win and to support them in their recovery and the mental health process that they’re going through.

Dan Colella: I love that. And you said that your child’s not dry cleaned. You don’t drop them off. This is a very systemic process that happens at the home and it requires support when this teen goes home.

Casey Cherry: That’s right.

Dan Colella: So, you’re going to give them a lot of the tools and skills, but a family member is going to also have to know how to react to their child when they’re acting different. Acknowledging changes, right? Acknowledging good behavior is not just using that same emotion before treatment.

Megan Hourigan: Yeah.

Dan Colella: So cool. I love that. And thanks for talking about the family immersion program.

Casey Cherry: Yeah.

Megan Hourigan: Yeah.

Dan Colella: So Megan, many of your teens are struggling with substance abuse.

Megan Hourigan: Yeah.

Dan Colella: But can you touch on how mental health is connected when it comes to the use of substances?

Megan Hourigan: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So a lot of times teens who are struggling with anxiety or depression will then turn to substances as a way to cope with it. And so here, one of the things that I love about our program is that we’re a dual diagnosis program, which means that we work with teens who are experiencing both mental health difficulties and substance abuse, and we treat them, we treat both of them simultaneously, because sometimes the substance abuse will quickly become more obvious than maybe the anxiety or the depression and what’s underneath it. We really want to support the teen with getting to what’s underneath it, which can often be mental health.

Dan Colella: Love that, yeah. And supporting that mental health is important to actually getting over that hump of the substance.

Megan Hourigan: Yeah.

Dan Colella: And really finding out what’s going on at the core of your teen.

Megan Hourigan: Right, right. The substances were to cope with it and how else can you cope with it?

Dan Colella: Yeah. What other things can you do? And that’s probably where they learn a lot from these experiential experiences. The power of hiking when you’re stressed or have anxiety, right?

Casey Cherry: That’s right.

Megan Hourigan: Yeah.

Dan Colella: We live in this beautiful state. Why not go for a hike to calm down and they learn those skills that they might not have had before.

Megan Hourigan: Yeah.

Dan Colella: Because maybe they didn’t have friends that did that or experiences to do that, right?

Megan Hourigan: Yeah, yeah.

Dan Colella: Awesome. So Casey, how long does residential treatment typically last and what can a parent of a teen expect to see when the child returns home?

Casey Cherry: Yeah. We say 30 days typically. Sometimes it’s longer, sometimes it’s a little shorter, just depending on their needs. And of course there’s other X factors and things that are involved, but we say 30 days. What we’re really wanting from what we think is success is that your teenager has identified some things within them. Their core values, their identity of who they are, who they are in a peer group that they’re relating with here. They’re going to learn coping skills. They’re going to learn some positive outlets for some of those negative emotions that they used to treat with substance use or other negative behaviors. They are going to maybe have a plan, a recovery plan. They’re going to understand that when I am triggered, here’s my plan. Here’s what I do. And they’re also going to learn some assertive communication to say, “Mom, here’s what I need from you. Dad, here’s what I need from you. Brother and sister, here’s what I need from you.” And so it really is being able to kind of lay the foundation and the groundwork for them to be successful and understand what it is they need after they leave here.

Megan Hourigan: Yeah. And staying sober for the full 30 days too. I’ve … Week one, week two into

the program, I hear these teens saying, “Gosh, I’m seeing things so much clearer

now,” because when you’re using so consistently, it clouds your vision.

Casey Cherry: That’s right.

Dan Colella: And a great analogy I’ve heard you used is often people come to you and it’s a broken puzzle of pieces. And really what they’re starting to do here is you guys are starting to say, okay, let’s find the corners.

Megan Hourigan: Yeah.

Dan Colella: Like let’s find the corners and let’s get to work. And by the time your team comes home, the corners are found, they’re starting to build a puzzle. Every experience is different when they get home, but that’s what you’re doing.

You’re taking these broken pieces of this family unit and you’re finding the corners and you’re getting them started in a way of building that puzzle back to a family unit.

Megan Hourigan: Yeah.

Dan Colella: So, love that you guys do that.

Megan Hourigan: I love that. That’s good.

Dan Colella: So let’s see. I rolled over here. Megan, can you speak a little bit about what a

day in the life of a teen looks like at Cascade Canyon?

Megan Hourigan: Yeah, yeah. We have a pretty structured schedule here, which is just what works for recovery. Getting into a routine, developing new rhythms is really helpful, both for mental health and for substance abuse. So, the kids will wake up in the morning, usually it’s around 7:00 AM, they’ll have some time to get ready for the day and then they’ll come downstairs and they’ll all have breakfast together. So, all of the meals are community meals and they’re all eating together, both with the teens and with staff. And then they’ll jump into a morning mindfulness group and that goes, that’s an hour long. And then they have academic time. So, from 10:00 to noon they’ll be doing school while they’re here. And that’s really individualized to what the teen is working on. Each student has different academic goals that they’re working on while they’re here. Then we’ve got lunchtime and then we have a fitness hour where they either do fitness, some exercise here on site, or go off site and do some hiking around here.

Megan Hourigan: And then we have our process group and that’s from 2:00 to 5:00 in the afternoon when really they’re learning new skills and practicing them in group on a wide range of different topics. And then we have dinner and some evening groups as well. And then things start to kind of wind down for the evening with journaling time and some relaxation. So really it’s the day kind of starts off with kind of preparing them for the day and then builds and then a day of … Towards the end of the day, then having some time to kind of unwind and getting ready for rest. So, yeah, that’s the daily schedule. The weekends look a little bit different, but yeah.

Dan Colella: Love it. Awesome. Thanks so much. So, if a family member or a loved one or teen themselves or somebody who’s watching right now, what would you like to say to them?

Casey Cherry: Yeah. I would say that we understand, we understand what you’re going through, we understand that you’re probably pretty exhausted and drained and kind of running out of solutions and at the end of your rope. And that we are here, we’re ready, we’re energized. A lot of us either have come out of a substance use lifestyle and are in recovery and can speak to that. We’ve had family members that have gone through that and struggled and gone through that kind of lifestyle. And so we understand what you’re going through and we’re ready. We’re here. We’re ready to help, and we’re ready to link arms with you and partner. And sometimes you just need to borrow hope. And we got plenty of that to give.

Dan Colella: Awe. Love that. Love that. What would you say to a family member?

Megan Hourigan: I would just acknowledge the fact that it’s a really tough decision, to make the decision to have your child leave your home for 30 days and to come somewhere else. And just that, in my opinion, it’s worth it, and we’ve had teens that have come through the program that have said, “Gosh, I didn’t know about coming here, but it was worth it and it was exactly what I needed.” And so, yeah, it’s a tough decision and we believe that this is a great program and that we can help.

Dan Colella: Yeah, I love it. So if you are a family member or a loved one and you are looking for this level of treatment, just know these are the human beings when your teen comes to this place that are going to be working with your teen. If you’re a family or a loved one, you’re likely going to talk to Casey on the front end.

Casey Cherry: Yeah.

Dan Colella: And Megan’s going to be one of the few people that are working with your teen on that therapeutic treatment model. So, that’s why live video is so important. We get to show off the human beings. You’ve just met them today. These are what they’re like, this is what treatment is like, this is what being here is like. Not a polished version. So, if you need help or you want to reach out, visit sandstonecare.com where you can get the number for admissions, and even if they’re not a good fit, this is one of the greatest programs that’s going to find the right fit for you.

Dan Colella: When Casey said in the beginning, he’s going to see if you’re a good fit, that’s because he wants you going to the right place with the right level of care that your child might need right now. And it might not be here and saying no to somebody is a powerful thing when you can get them started down the right path of wellness and doing well. So thanks for your time today. Thanks for all that great information that you shared with our families today and we’ll see you more in future live episodes. Thanks.

Megan Hourigan: Okay, thanks.

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