A Dual Clinical Formulation
Given Montana Academy’s selection of students, it is rare that one narrow cluster of symptoms or one formal psychiatric diagnosis makes adequate sense of students’ many presenting challenges. Medications and prior psychological treatments typically have already been tried and have failed (alone) to remedy our students’ broadly-based troubles–at school, at home and socially. A global array of struggles points to a deeper developmental source for surface symptoms, acting out behaviors and repetitive failures. A delayed maturation usually has caused an underlying immaturity relative to age peers, and, despite unique and innate talent and intelligence, a Montana Academy student usually has struggled to meet the various challenges of modern adolescence.
A Developmental Model
To help entering students requires a dual focus: first, upon the obstacles that have derailed psychological development and second, upon immaturity itself. Clinical help must address both dimensions, and treatment failures often result from a therapeutic preoccupation with symptoms without a concomitant effort to restore developmental momentum. The remedy must have both goals: to remove or mitigate obstacles to maturity–a task that often requires clinical expertise; and to encourage a stuck teenager to get on with growing up. The wanted outcome, then, is not just symptom relief, but also a shift in maturity and a re-defined sense of self.
Support and treatment in a deeply relational setting that provides accurate feedback and mirroring from therapists, peers and staff allows a student, over time, to develop a stronger, more adaptable and secure sense of self and way of relating to others. Students grow up and develop a more mature personality structure. This intentional effort to address both symptoms and underlying obstacles to healthy character development is what truly distinguishes Montana Academy.