Therapeutic Approach

The Academy at Sisters employs an evidence-based trauma-informed approach to the treatment of adolescent girls experiencing a wide spectrum of mental health challenges.

Whether your daughter has anxiety, trauma, attachment issues, or ADHD, we believe in a well-rounded approach to treatment. That is why all our residents have a treatment team, made up of a therapist, a treatment coordinator, a teacher, and a parent coach. As a team we create an individualized treatment plan that identifies what we want to accomplish during the student’s stay. This treatment plan is the guide for the therapeutic work that occurs in individual and family therapy sessions, coaching calls with treatment coordinators and parent coaches, and determines what skills your child will practice during day-to-day life throughout their time at The Academy.

We work in partnership with independent Parent Coach Professionals. Their coaches help parents focus on their familial relationships, strategize new tools and solutions, and more effectively assist in moving their adolescent/young adult to greater self-reliance. They work with families and our treatment team to assess a situation and develop a strategic approach allowing parents to find clear direction, a healthy perspective, and ultimately feel empowered.

A combination of these therapeutic approaches are used thoughtfully, over time, based on the needs of each student in Individual, Group, and Family sessions.

Student and a therapist in an individual therapy session outdoors at a boarding school
Group therapy session outdoors at a boarding school for girls
mother and daughter talking with a therapist in a family therapy session


We offer individual, group, and family therapy with master-level clinicians. Our therapeutic team provides trauma-informed therapy based on cutting-edge science and research. The treatment team targets the student’s challenging symptoms using the combination of brain and body modalities. “Top-down” or brain approaches, like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), help students shift problematic thought patterns and learn healthy communication skills. “Bottom-up” or body approaches, like Eye-Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) and Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP), help students work through trauma with mindfulness and body-based coping skills. The combination of both brain and body therapeutic modalities helps adolescent girls reconnect their minds and bodies to heal and make lasting change.

What do these names, acronyms and initials mean and how do they help my daughter?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a highly researched, effective, and evidence-based therapy that targets unprocessed traumatic experiences that are dysfunctionally stored in memory networks in the brain and body. EMDR aids the body’s natural healing process and allows the brain to reprocess distressing memories to allow adaptive perspectives and resources to be accessed, while decreasing distress caused by symptoms of trauma.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps students become aware of how their internal dialog impacts how they feel and respond to the world, so they can learn ways to reframe that dialog and change their responses to align with their values and goals.

Brainspotting Therapy
Brainspotting Therapy is a powerful, focused treatment method that works by identifying, processing and releasing core neurophysiological sources of emotional and somatic pain, trauma, dissociation and a variety of other challenging symptoms. Brainspotting locates points in the client’s visual field that help to access unprocessed trauma in the subcortical brain which holds traumatic memory.
Attachment Therapy
Attachment Therapy is an empowering modality that identifies, processes, and helps to heal early childhood experiences that have negatively impacted client’s ability to securely relate with others. Attachment therapy addresses underlying drives (attachment system and nervous system) that impact our behaviors in relationships. This therapy guides clients to become active operators of their own nervous systems. This is an especially helpful family therapy modality, to increase healthy connection and security within the family.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) directly targets the emotional dysregulation that comes from unhelpful beliefs and lack of coping skills. It focuses on four specific skillsets: mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance, and emotion regulation. DBT is an evidence-based highly effective therapy that aids youth in shifting black and white thinking by increasing flexible gray-area thinking, emotional regulation techniques and healthy communication skills.
Family Systems Therapy
Family Systems Therapy is rooted in understanding the context of the family unit, including the roles that each member of the family plays in the family system. Each family member explores how their individual actions affect each other as well as the generational messaging that has impacted the family’s dynamic. Students and their families heal wounds of the past, address dysfunctional patterns, and collaborate on new ways to function in a way that works for everyone’s needs going forward.

Day-to-Day Skill Practice:

We believe that no matter what your daughter decides to do with her life, she can be successful through learning skills to regulate her emotions, communicate effectively, and feel confident doing hard things.

Based on your child’s long-term goals, your treatment team will collaborate with your daughter to create short-term objectives. Your daughter will practice skills daily to meet these objectives in small consistent steps. Combined with our program’s positive-reinforcement behavioral change model, your child will learn how to be responsible for her actions. This is accountability-based learning in action.