The Cycle of Anxiety
The natural response to overwhelming anxiety is to avoid the situation that causes anxiety. By avoiding stress, your daughter may experience feelings of relief, which in turn leads to avoiding the causes of her stress. This becomes a dangerous cycle. At Cascade Academy, specially trained Approach Coaches will mentor your daughter and teach her how to evaluate healthy risk and act with courage. She will learn the skills she needs to approach uncomfortable situations when her anxiety is telling her to run. These skills include learning how to identify her anxiety, challenging unhelpful thoughts, managing her emotions, applying distress tolerance skills and bravely approaching her goals and things that may trigger stress or panic.
Adolescence is filled with opportunities to learn responsibility, participate in leadership and vocational opportunities, as well as social and community connections. Girls with severe anxiety often avoid these situations, missing out on important life and developmental experiences. At Cascade Academy, your daughter will have the opportunity to practice engaging in these activities which are critical to healthy adolescent development.
The Cascade Philosophy
Your daughter’s anxiety is unique to her. Genetics, personal values, individual experiences, patterns of thinking, and her goals for the future are all evaluated to determine the root cause of your daughter’s anxiety. Once the sources of her anxiety are understood, the clinical team at Cascade Academy collaboratively creates a plan to identify how to reduce symptoms of anxiety and increase your daughter’s ability to tolerate distress.
Each girl at Cascade Academy will have a unique path to healing. Your daughter’s specific roadmap will also include the following healthy life practice principles:
Anxiety is helped by balancing body, mind and soul.
Anxiety does not just exist as an emotion; it occurs as a physical experience. By approaching anxiety scientifically, you can understand how anxiety occurs within your body. Research shows that at least 30% of anxiety can be accounted for through genetics. Upon admission, your daughter will receive genetic testing which will pinpoint which specific genetic components contribute to her anxiety. With her “anxiety genes” identified, we can make decisions that can manage her symptoms as well as prevent “turning on” additional gene mutations. This includes healthy eating, the right kind of exercise, and teaching your daughter other ways to care for her body. At Cascade Academy helping your daughter to improve her physical health and teaching her how to treat her body well is at the foundation of overall health.
Your daughter’s thought patterns have been developed throughout her life from her experiences, values, and beliefs. By identifying her unhelpful thoughts, your daughter can better understand how these patterns of thinking contribute to her anxiety. Frequent thoughts of “what if something bad happens”, “I can’t do this”, or “I’m not good enough” are examples of thoughts she may have, which are associated with anxiety disorders. In individual, family, and group therapy, she will uncover these thought patterns and learn new ways of thinking.
The essence of what makes your daughter uniquely her may have been long buried under severe anxiety. Adolescence is a time of intense identity development. The team at Cascade Academy will help your daughter uncover the layers of anxiety to reveal who she truly is beneath the fear and avoidance. Who she is meant to be can be revealed through experiences and opportunities for her to express her true self.
Once a foundation of balance is in place, your daughter will begin a phase dedicated to building skills of self-mastery in the areas of work and play. Guiding treatment during this phase are two principles:
The Power of Play
Years of research has shown that play is a powerful method for learning that takes hold naturally in the core of our brain and memory. Dr. Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play, said “The truth is that play seems to be one of the most advanced methods nature has invented to allow a complex brain to create itself.”
When your daughter is mindfully engaged in play, it is a respite from the experience of anxiety. Play is a method to engage and connect to our true selves. Your daughter will experience many recreational and spontaneous opportunities to simply engage in leisure and enjoy herself.
Work is Hard-Easy or Easy-Hard
Challenges can be approached two ways; do what’s easy first and deal with the hard things later or do what’s hard now and clear a path for the future. At Cascade Academy your daughter will be encouraged to choose hard-easy.
As your daughter learns to face the challenges presented by work, she will be mentored in the areas of skill building, challenging comfort levels, and putting in the work that leads to achieving goals. This includes the hard work of therapy.
The ability to connect with others in healthy ways is an important indicator of wellbeing. With balanced and active engagement in life, your daughter can then have the ability to contribute and connect to others. Two guiding principles for connection include:
Make a Bigger Ripple
Each social interaction we have with others has an impact on the world and people around us. Your daughter will learn to consider how she makes ripples in the lives of others. Healthy and authentic relationships create a lasting and positive impact. Your daughter is encouraged to develop healthy relationship skills with family, friends and community in such a way that she benefits as well as those around her.
Lend a Hand, Take a Hand
Growth comes when we serve others. When your daughter learns that she can help others, she can also find purpose in contributing. Your daughter has much to offer and will find strength in knowing that she is able to make a positive impact on causes larger than herself. Service is a core component of Cascade Academy and your daughter will have opportunities to serve both locally and globally.