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New Leaf Academy Therapeutic Boarding School for Girls Completes Specialized Training to Help Adopted Pre-Teens and Their Families

Bend, OR (PRWEB) November 10, 2010 – The staff at New Leaf Academy, a therapeutic boarding school for girls ages 10 to 14, recently completed an in-depth training on adoption issues and attachment issues. In addition to treating emotional, behavioral and learning issues, the academy is now uniquely prepared to help adopted girls address any issues they may have surrounding their adoption.

The training was led by the Kinship Center, a nonprofit agency dedicated to the creation, preservation and support of foster, adoptive and relative families. The entire New Leaf staff, from executive management to support staff, attended five eight-hour training sessions to build a deeper understanding of the issues facing adopted families.

“We joined forces with the Kinship Center in order to develop a holistic understanding of the way adoption impacts everyone involved, including adoptive parents, children and birth parents,” said Craig A. Christainsen, M.A., Founder & Executive Director at New Leaf Academy, where roughly 30 percent of the students are adopted or being raised by someone other than a biological parent. “Because every adoptive family’s experience is unique, this training will help us be responsive to each family’s individual needs.”

Between the ages of 10 and 14, many girls start to wonder who they are and where they came from. Adopted children may begin to notice that they don’t look like parents or that they have different personality traits than their adoptive family, causing them to feel different at time when they long to be the same as their peers.
“For some adopted children, feelings of grief, loss and abandonment can contribute to emotional or behavioral issues during pre-adolescence,” said O’Kelley. “Our goal is to help adopted girls and their families embrace the reality of adoption in a healing way.”

New Leaf Academy is one of the only therapeutic boarding schools in the country that focuses on the pre-adolescent and early adolescent developmental stage and works to provide pre-teen girls with the experiences and skills they need to thrive. The adoption training has given the staff an even deeper understanding of this developmental stage, allowing them to tailor their interventions even more closely to each girl’s particular needs.

Some of the interventions that have been particularly helpful for adopted girls at New Leaf Academy include:

  • Equine therapy and building bonds with bunnies, allowing girls to express themselves in non-verbal ways and engage in hands-on learning
  • Occupational therapy
  • Special attention to specific sensory needs
  • An emphasis on meeting basic physiological needs, such as warmth and affection, before problem-solving and establishing consequences
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy, art therapy and other therapeutic approaches to help adopted girls develop positive self-esteem and a healthy way of thinking about themselves, their families and the world around them

“We are working closely with both students and their parents, through a series of teleclasses and a parent workshop on adoption, to improve the family dynamics and nurture close family ties,” said O’Kelley. “Because in the end, family is what this process is all about.”

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