We often tell our young adult clients who want greater levels of independence that they must ‘vote with their feet.’ Therefore the plans they make must demonstrate with actions that show families and professionals that they can manage the increased independence they seek. Testing one’s wings while involved with a professional support system such as ours at Spruce can be great ‘practice’ and a good indicator of what next steps might reasonably be undertaken.
Research, as well as experiential data from our work with young adults, illustrates common problems with the generalization of information from one environment to the next. From the fields of biomedicine, chemical dependency, psychiatry, psychology and adolescent development, for example, various factors appear which help explain why young adults may not be able to learn in one setting and translate that learning readily to another.
For over thirty years, writings from the field of psychosocial rehabilitation have advocated for ‘in vivo’ treatment and training: teach and practice skills in the settings (or reasonable facsimile thereof) in which they will be used. Since our inception in 1982, the Spruce Mountain Inn Program has been based on this premise.
Transitions are typically very challenging for the young adults we serve. In part, transition pitfalls are the result of the difficulties in the translation from empirical learning to the execution of the skills. As a “transitional facility,’ we believe we must prepare our clients by demanding that they “do.” Beyond the processing of the feelings, we set our clients up to practice their newfound skills in community based settings.
Our extremely comprehensive program components all serve to clarify short and long term goals as well as providing a structured step-wise approach for meeting them. After approximately six weeks, each client is placed in an individually tailored job placement.. With support from the entire team, participants experience success on a job, often for the first time. Our clients take college courses and are helped through the rough spots. Our ‘step downs’ offer the opportunity to either live alone in our annex apartments or with peers in our unsupervised Greatwood Lodge. Our jobs, our fitness programs, Twelve Step Meetings, etc. are not sheltered. They are community based and attempt to assimilate real next steps that clients will be taking. Treatment plans at Spruce chart a step-by-step course toward each participant’s next step beyond here. The step-by-step approach, with close monitoring and support along the way, maximizes success. Step-by-step, we treat our clients while they “vote with their feet.”