Magazine article Psychology Today

A Community for Growth

Magazine article Psychology Today

A Community for Growth

Article excerpt

What does Volken Academy do?

The JVA is a residential drug and alcohol treatment center based on the therapeutic-community model for young adults 18 to 32. The environment replicates real life while focusing on behavioral change. Clients (referred to as students) learn to address and change the life patterns they have developed that are producing poor outcomes.

Students advance their education, receive extensive career training, develop leadership and social skills, learn healthy communication, gain relapse-prevention skills, and learn emotional regulation- program components that combine to build character. The JVA is so much more than just a treatment center: It is a life skills academy.

Your program serves a specific age range. Is there some unique need among this group?

The JVA program has been built to align with the needs of young adults. The length of the program allows the behavioral changes to become permanent. It also accommodates an issue related to the fragility of the young persons brain encountering the intensity of the illicit substances now available. At the JVA, we have seen an increase in the time it takes for the "fog" to lift when young people enter the program. Also, drug and alcohol abuse seem to start much earlier, limiting the acquisition of skills needed for life. We remedy deficits by addressing matters as simple as personal hygiene to the complexities of university enrollment.

What is the most distinguishing feature of the program?

There are two. One is the unconditional positive culture fostered within the community. Young people come into this program with an incredibly low amount of self-worth and self-love. Addiction, and the destruction it creates, is a result of an inability to love or receive love from others, caused by little or lack of self-love. At the JVA, we create a healing environment where destructive behaviors and thoughts can be deconstructed and self-love can be built in their place. Unconditional positive regard comes with boundaries, and the two elements together are responsible for the biggest shifts we see.

Additionally, the Academy is unique in being completely selffunded. As a result, we are able to dedicate 100 percent of our energy to our mission of changing lives.

You identify several pillars of treatment. What are they and why are they essential?

We believe there are four essential elements of addiction recovery. Number one is recognizing The Root Cause. The abuse of drugs or alcohol is only the visible tip of an iceberg. …

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