Therapeutic Approach

therapeutic approach

Underlying all treatment interventions at Summit Prep is a basic belief that all people inherently want to grow, experience healthy relationships, and lead satisfying lives. This is a universal drive that can become thwarted by disruptions in a person's life that interfere with development of foundational beliefs about self and others, and the learning and practice of age-appropriate basic life skills. Family life events such as divorce, illness, death of parents, abuse or other trauma, early illnesses, peer rejections, substance use, or psychological issues can all impact development. Severe or persistent interference with the developmental process often creates unhealthy dynamics in an individual's relations with family, peers, and teachers that serve to hold the individual in place, and problems with motivation, depression, anxiety, substance abuse and self-concept are often the unfortunate result. Since these delays are usually multiply determined, the treatment approach must also be multi-faceted.

To this end, each young person is served by an integrated treatment team of professionals, including his or her teachers, therapist, and residential counselors. This belief in a "developmental" focus for understanding troubled adolescents assumes that development occurs within a traceable sequence of stages. Individuals learn and develop key proficiencies at each stage, and if these are not adequately developed, then problems will result. Therefore, the primary goal of the treatment program is to identify the foundational deficits that interfere with relationships with family and others, address these through groups and individual therapy, and provide varied opportunities for learning, practice, and consolidation with the intent of catching the young person up on the various skill proficiencies that have been lacking as a result of the delay. Our treatment philosophy is based upon the premise that our students are neither "bad" nor irrevocably "broken", but instead delayed in their development as an individual. This treatment team develops an individualized service plan that addresses the specific needs of each student, and continually reevaluates the effectiveness of the plan in light of the student's current performance in all aspects of his/her life. The specific therapeutic tools used by Summit Preparatory School to teach these proficiencies have been selected because of their demonstrated effectiveness, and include the following treatment approaches:


Interventions designed to change specific maladaptive behaviors, with the intent to also make changes in the person's ability to think and feel differently (more adaptively) about situations. These often take the form of identifying those aspects which are reinforcing the now maladaptive behavior and altering the contingencies maintaining the problem areas.


Interventions designed to identify and modify maladaptive thinking patterns and belief systems that cause problems for the individual in their appraisal of themselves, others, and potential to affect the future. This involves both formal teaching (psychological education on reinforcing adaptive ways of thinking and responding) and individual and group therapeutic interventions assisting the individual to recognize and change ways of thinking that have become maladaptive and/or self defeating.

Interpersonal / Dynamic

Interventions based on relationships and designed to allow the individual to "rework" past difficulties during childhood within the boundaries of the therapeutic relationship. The intent is to foster an age-appropriate level of development in the individual's ability to relate to others and to oneself in a way that recognizes and differentiates current reality from echoes of the past. This addresses such issues as attachment, ability to empathize, ability to individuate, and recurring cyclical patterns of behavior.

Family Systems


Interventions designed to affect the complex system that is the individual's family (roles, rules, beliefs, patterns ...) allowing the individual to act in a way that reflects his or her growing independence while improving relationships with family members. Interventions may involve all members of the family in the treatment, or they may be designed to promote family change indirectly through individual changes made by the student or parent.


Interventions adjunctive to psychosocial therapies, designed to address conditions with psychobiological or medical involvement, which may include such conditions as endocrine anomalies, anxiety, depression, and attention problems.

Summit Prep School
1605 Danielson Rd Kalispell, MT 59901
Phone: (406) 758-8100 | Admissions: (406) 758-8113
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