Oxbow Academy is a residental treatment program for boys `suffering from sexual abuse or sexaul misconduct. The school located in Wales Utah not far from the capital St Lake City, My tour was in the morning. Steve Shultz was gracious to get me to the programs which included Discovery Ranch. Discovery Academy and Oxbow. I have heard a lot about thess programs and their sucess by consultants but needed to see the programs for myself. The sucess of the program can be described by its sucess working with families with specfic needs, in this case addressing the student as a whole person with sexual issues.
The Admisssion Director, Erin Nester, is very familar working with adolescents in this population, having worked in similar settings in the past. Mr. Richard Hess, psychologist, and primary therapist Todd Spaulding are also familar with this type of student. We have meet several times during the year at various worshops and meeting with consultants to discuss the strong components of the program at Oxbow.
We met this occasion to discuss the overall program including it being a placement option for consultants. Oxbow by far is one of the best programs for sexual addiction and abuse for young adolecents. I have toured other program and found there are two program which are far reaching for this population which includes Birdseye Ranch and Stevenson.
The other two programs, one which I have toured and the other spoken to the Director of the Program extensively, have different size and structure to the program. I have toured several other program but this are of working with children and adolescents is very different. Depending on the size and structure of the program one would say this program has a good fit as well.
This carefully designed program is described by Steven Shultz, as a program designed by the staff which includes: Discovery Ranch and Discovery Academy which have a very different models for each program, at Oxbow "all clinical staff were involved in the development of the entire program".
The program is carefully researched based, using the most current methods of research and working with children and adolescents with this population. The workbook used in the program is designed for the population and exercies and assignments are part of the program.\
An intergral coonection with program is parents too, with extensive researched based intervention with families and interventions which help parents recognize their own behavior in the home. With these types of students having this in place makes the familiy more connected.
Many parents are very non disclosing of their own contribution to their past in dealing with children's behavior, ( viewing of pornography, sexual stimulation movies in the home and observing sexual behavior of adults is ofte minimized in a home setting or go unrecognized at times.
We meet in the conference center to review the program components including the assessement part and how the program works and this was followed by a tour of the facility director Ms. Erin Nester. She showed me the living quarters as well as a typical day for students at Oxbow. The schedule is very intense and not one student is left alone. The clincial staff as well as the students also do peer modeling to recognize the students in this setting.
All staff are very familar with the need of these boys who's age range from 12-17 years of age to be supervised and to be monitored by staff is an example of who different this program is from other therapeutic schools or programs.
The program was actually developed using the very best ways to detect sexual misconduct, using polygraphs for students, with very well documented psychological reports, and therapy.
In fact, all the students receive a poloygraph and a complete psychological evaluation. I really wanted to speak directly to the student but they were in a group therapy session at the time of my visit. A few other consultant were ahead of me on the tour earlier, so my review of the program was made with the director and her staff.
The program addressed students who have issues with gender idenfification as well as those who have sexual disorders common in adolescents. The common sexual behaviors of children in the age group treated at Oxbow might include: addictio to pornography, mastribation contributed to stimulation of viewing sexual material, implusive behavior often associated with sexual stimulation or arrousal.
While many of the students are exceptionally gifted, they also need much direction and support and therapy. A comprehensive 90 day assessment includes both a polygraph and psychological assessment performed by the psychologist.A written statement or committment by the student along with goals are also discussed upon entering the program.
I reviewed the assessment used at the program, and was very impressed by the confidentality of the assessment, is overall application in helping these students and the information which is shared with the parent and the consultant.
The students are typically supervised 24 hrs a day in the program by staff for safety and to protect other students. While they live together is a close living enviroment they are encouraged to seek out staff and to work as a family. The safety in therapy is very comforting and any issues which are shared are held in the group and among staff.
The program actually protects many of the students from engaging in sexual behavior in the treatment, using positive peer culture. The program is also uniquely designed to help a small group of boys, than more traditional residental programs, with a larger number of boys. This is not simply warehouse program for these students and moninter their behavior and consequences, are not punitive, and dealt with therapeutically.The program helps parents and students in the process of identifying those behavior which are triggers for the parents.
While is definately has an approach to helping students, it also allows them to be more expressive with art therapy and an strong equine therapy program. The housing is in a coverted church building not far from St. Lake City. It is a one story building with a limit of 12 students in the program. We discussed the admission process with the director and staff.
The type of student most common to come to Oxbow Academy, has a typical profile of engaging in sexual behavior, which might be considered, inappopriate to their age group or even to others in a social context. While having siginificant social interaction implications, many students with identified sexual disorders, are classifed in the DSM-IV.
Most of the schools students are referred by Educational Consultants, and have a varied diagnostic grouping when I addressed the common Axis I and II of students attending Oxbow.This is a very specialized area of practice for most consultants who work with special needs placement. Therefore this type of student most commonly needs supervision and monitering as well as peer confrontations.
A significant sexual acting out behavior may be observed before admission but this behavior has gone on for some time. Many students would even had convictions for this behavior and many would be treated in an acute care psychiatic hospital and sometimes not with other adolsecents with similar challenges.
Many therapeutic school programming would be significantly different in size and in supervision but this program must be well supervised.
Students typically engaged in inapproptiate acting out sexual behavior: voyerism, exhibitionist, or mastribution are commonly seen in the program and prior to entering the program. There are monitered camera's in this housing unit and living areas of the house.
The boys ranging in age 13 -17 years of age, from all over the country. Due to our short time, we did not get an opportunity to speak to the students, however the staff provided much insight into the routine and progress of student and the families. Parents have ongoing opportunites to meet with clinicans to address their child's problems, as well as an extensive assessment completed both at the admission and discharge. The program has a 30 day assessment, which include: a complete psychosocial identifying the clinical diagnosis of the students.
Many parents who send their children to a program like Oxbow may find, the severity of their child's sexaul acting out may not meet the admission requirement, determined by the online assessment and interview.
Sexual pre occupation, pornography interest, are just a few of the addictive behaviors discussed at Oxbow. Sexual gratification, violation of others are common among students in this setting.
The program offers educational and therapeutic groups, which are very unique. The peer culture i s often used to addres these needs for students. Mooning and obcene gentures are also very common for student in this program. While the program is designed to help these students by carefully monitering their behavior clinicans are actively involved in helping them.
Red Flag behaviors are often dealt with in a group setting and other students generaly adddress the students rather than other staff. Much of the program also provides wrkbook exercises with both parents and students. Parents must be committed for the first 90 days and students are fully engaged in activities including: art therapy, academic remediation and help to address their school needs.
The clinical use of a polygraph to hold students and the family accountable to the behavior which sometimes is clearly masked in other treatment programs. Sexual acting out behviaor has some restrictions but not shame. The program has 11 clinical and administrative staff members. students are engaged in equine therapy as well as music and expressive arts.
All of the rooms of the dorms are supervised 24 hours a day by rotation staff on campus. Most staff do not live on campus, and come to the program. Erin says: " all of the boys know us and we know them". Confidentality plays a significant role in this program and all information must be held in confidence with parents and with staff. The dorms were very clean organized and most of the boys lived on a divided part of the house.
There is a 30 day supply of medication and a registered nurse to moniter the students. Many of the student have a range of Axis I and II diagnosis ranging from bi polar to depressive disorders. The monitering of the medication is performed by the staff nurse, who moniters all aspects of the students medication schedule, or weather termination can be determined by the staff physican.
We found the program to be very comfortable. We have visited another program in New England and his program seem much more connected in helping both the families and students.Academically most of these boys are very bright. It is very difficult to determine whether the program is for sexual offenders or victims.
There are no televisions not computer no electronic dreviaces at the school. There are no medical stimulation on campus but student do have the opportunity to discuss this when passes are provided after entering the program. Parents are likely to be helped in addressing this areas on home visits.
The program has significant strong points for consultants. While there is a small area for the program, it does have a good feel and it is equally connection with Discovery Academy. Students might be involved in or move from one program using the therapy services of other programs, without must notice of transition.
A consultant working with special needs are likely to see much progress for students interacting with their peers, not being resticted in a completely restricted residental program. There is more openess and less restrictiveness at Oxbow. A greater sense of openess, a very good connectiveness to families and certainly a very knowledgeable staff on working with children in this category.
We would recommend Oxbow for any therapist or consultant. Follow up by a consultant is certainly more desired. This program needs a consultant follow up for any boy entering or leaving the program and tranisitioning to a different therapeutic setting.