In July 2020 we held our first high school graduation ceremony for one of our girls at Cascade Academy. What made this ceremony especially significant was that the bright young woman graduating struggled daily with severe anxiety. While she will remain with us for a few more months to complete her residential treatment program, she now has her high school diploma.

Due to Covid pandemic precautions, the high school graduation ceremony was kept to fellow students, Cascade Academy founders and staff, but her mother and sister were able to watch excitedly via Zoom teleconferencing from her home state. She looked radiant, dressed in a beautiful white dress with her hair perfectly curled and wearing just the right amount of makeup. This student has been anticipating and planning her graduation for weeks and her big day just couldn’t come soon enough!

In the few months that we have known this student, we have seen a new level of enthusiasm and hope emerge from deep within her. This girl, who was timid, anxious and very insecure when she first arrived, now proudly delivered an excellent graduation speech! She expressed how much she is looking forward to attending college. The daunting task of choosing which college and what degree to pursue now lies ahead of her, but she is ready to take on that challenge. She has learned how to courageously face big decisions through her work and time in treatment at Cascade Academy.

So….what’s next!?

Just like graduation from high school or college, finishing a residential treatment program can be a big step. Will our girl’s work be done and every hard thing be behind them once they leave us?… Absolutely not!  Returning to their home environment or even going off to college can present new challenges. What if they have set backs or mess up when they return home? What if they fall back into negative behaviors or thought patterns that they’ve worked so hard to overcome in treatment? Don’t worry, we have made sure there are transitional steps to support and monitor our girls as they reach these new phases.

At Cascade Academy, we have designed our programs to ensure that there is a smooth transition for our students through their next steps, whether that is going home or on to a University or to another program. When a student has progressed far enough in her treatment and has had the time needed to really develop new neuropathways or patterns of thinking (and when those new pathways have had time to become entrenched in the brain) she will return home initially for 4 to 6 weeks. During that time, weekly family therapy and individual therapy sessions will continue. We use a progress monitoring software tool called Videra to determine if more treatment is needed. If she needs to come back, her bed is always open and ready for her.

It is important to ensure that parents have accurate expectations about their daughter’s progress in treatment. Growth and change do not occur in a systematic, continuous upward pattern. Sometimes progress includes taking a few steps forward and then a few steps back. It can feel frustrating and discouraging but this is reality and we can help guide you through these normal setbacks.

For our latest high school graduate, completing this crucial step in her life and getting her diploma is only the beginning of a new “growth” phase. She is prepared and ready. She understands the need to continually push herself out of her comfort zone and she is excited to embrace the new adventures and opportunities that lie ahead.

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