Rites of Passage
Montana Academy’s program is based upon the observation that maturation occurs in the context of accurate adult recognition and limit-setting, sustained over time. The program’s Five Phases are a transitional sequence that provides both of these in tandem. Montana Academy’s therapeutic curriculum guides and marks a student’s progress and provides structure while defining privileges. The Phases reflect shifts in maturity and honor a student’s progress and growth. Students begin at Earth Phase and graduate when they reach the Sky Phase. To earn promotion to the next Phase requires mastery of a prior Phase’s curriculum, challenges, and therapeutic assignments. Upon completion of each Phase, students propose for promotion and these promotions are rites of passage recognizing a student’s evolution.
Students arrive on campus in Earth Phase, where they are first introduced to the routines, discipline, and rules of Academy life. In Earth Phase students are expected to learn and follow the basic rules of Montana Academy, accept their placement in the program, and demonstrate a willingness to acknowledge areas for growth that they will work on during their stay. The focus of Earth Phase is on honesty, self-discipline, and accountability.
Students in Moon Phase engage in the process of self-exploration, self-discovery, and self-acceptance. In Moon Phase, students learn to regulate, tolerate, and express emotions and develop a deeper understanding of the relationships among thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Through phase assignments and in individual therapy, students learn to express feelings appropriately in a direct and respectful way and begin to understand both their adaptive and maladaptive, defenses.
By the time students have reached Sun Phase, they have done significant self-exploration and are ready to look beyond themselves. Family therapy becomes a major emphasis as students examine their interpersonal patterns as played out both in the past and present. Students work closely with their families to address ways in which the family has affected them and ways in which they have impacted others in their family.
As students master the skills of appropriate emotional expression and interpersonal relationships, they are prepared for Star Phaes, a phase that allows the time to practice newly acquired skills and consolidates a more mature view of themselves and the world. In Star Phase students are expected to exhibit a sustained mastery of their own emotions and behavior and be able to help others through active community leadership. Students are encouraged to be student mentors and role models in all aspects of the community by leading weekend activities, community service projects, or being a student council representative, a tutor, or a residential assistant.
In Star Phase, students are also expected to begin realistic planning for the future and transition.
Sky Phase is the final phase of the Montana Academy program before transition. During Sky Phase, students complete a realistic transition plan for the future and put closure on their experience at Montana Academy. Sky Phase students are expected to continue to exhibit leadership and positive program engagement. Transition plans made during Sky Phase allow students to consolidate personal growth in a way that maintains the skills and maturation that have been achieved during their tenure at Montana Academy.