The therapeutic aspects of Stevenson are woven into the very fabric of the program. A therapeutic milieu is achieved through the structures and culture of the school. Key to this supportive and growth-oriented milieu is the relationship between teacher and student which is carefully calibrated by the staff. The entire process is monitored and guided by the Clinical Director, who presides over weekly sessions with each of the students’ counselors, known as Advisors.
Advisors, who are all classroom teachers, perform an essential function crucial to the success of Stevenson students. They meet with their advisees three times daily, both in groups and individually. Additional contacts take place to address any and all difficulties students may be facing in their academic, social, or personal lives. Rather than shielding the students from demands or expectations they might prefer to avoid, Advisors help students to face these realities. As such, students are helped not only to succeed academically, but also to develop dependable coping abilities for the myriad challenges of adolescence and beyond.
Advising groups are small, averaging eight students, who are assigned based on our knowledge of their psychosocial profiles, as well as the personality style of a particular Advisor whom we may feel would best serve their needs. The interpersonal composition of a group is also taken into consideration as it is our aim to create groups that are supportive and cultivate a sense of belonging.
In addition to working with their Advisors, students receive psychological support from the counseling staff, who are available throughout the day. These efforts support and are supported by students’ outside therapists through a liaison maintained by the Clinical Director. Similarly, our clinicians work with parents to help them more effectively address their children’s needs, and often to heal troubled parent-child relationships.
Another powerful modality for helping adolescents develop a stronger, healthier sense of self is group work. Our clinicians facilitate weekly Women’s Groups and Substance Abuse Recovery Groups in which students share their experiences in an atmosphere of compassionate support, honest confrontation and practical encouragement. Other such groups have included Social Skills groups and a Gay-Straight Alliance.