Trails Momentum’s Approach to Family ServicesNovember 29, 2021
Family Services and Coaching at Trails Momentum
Learning how to cultivate and build a strong foundation that will guide young adults into and throughout their adulthood can be rather trying for both the young adult and their family. Trails Momentum of Western North Carolina takes on a strengths-based focus in providing the life skills necessary for facilitating healthy transitions throughout this journey. Such work includes striving towards establishing authentic relationships with others and oneself, fortifying individual identity, enriching education, and working towards discovering the skills necessary for feeling successful and confident as adults. Georgia DeFrancia – a licensed clinical social worker, Equine therapist, and family coach for Momentum – spoke more on the process of empowering young adults throughout their learning of how to make healthy decisions throughout their transition into adulthood.
Novel Trauma-Focused Therapy
Trained in trauma-focused Equine Assisted psychotherapy, DeFrancia provided a different insight into how horses can help the healing process that trauma and traumatic stress have on the brain and relationships. Given the clinically rooted model of the Momentum Equine Rehabilitation program, students learn to establish healthy boundaries in both verbal and nonverbal communication safely in a judgment-free environment, with a sentient, non-judgmental being. DeFrancia noted that horses need to have a trusting relationship with the human in order to feel safe, and provide immediate feedback as to what’s working or not working in a relationship. To provide an example of how this dynamic manifests itself, if a student has poor boundaries in their relationships (family, coworkers, peers, etc.), these poor boundaries and relationship patterns will be present when working with horses.
The Drama Triangle
In looking at the dynamic seen between horse and human in the Equine Rehabilitation program, parallels can be drawn between this dynamic and that seen within the “Drama Triangle”. The Drama Triangle, which is a way of interacting, consists of a persecutor, victim, and rescuer role, and this dynamic can appear in any relationship. Thus, DeFrancia highlighted that this component of the Drama Triangle helps bring to light the family dynamic of a student, given that whatever their family dynamic is will then become the dynamic seen between the student and horse. With boundaries being an integral focus of the program, the Momentum team provides support to the student throughout this process of cultivating healthy psychological and physical boundaries that can then transfer into the foundation for healthier relationships. As students are taken out of [potentially] emotionally charged environments to learn how to cope with and work through frustration, parents are provided the opportunity of doing their own parallel work towards establishing healthy boundaries and effective forms of communication with their young adults.
Transitioning into the World
With the transitional period from young adulthood into adulthood that the students are processing through, parents are also faced with the transitional period from being a parent to becoming an influencer in their young adult’s life. When thinking about the idea of their young adult “launching into the world” without the parent(s), this poses the potential for a great deal of anxiety from the parental side of things. Thus, learning how to make healthy choices in communication, forms of processing, and establishing boundaries, not only is work that is being done by the student, but also it is work that is being done in tandem with the student and their family. This is where DeFancia’s role as a life coach becomes an extremely important resource throughout this process, as she centers herself on the element of family work and its critical role in the success of [any] program.
Given that a client is eventually going to return to the family system in some capacity, being able to work with the family provides the opportunity for greater and faster change not only within the client but within the family system as a whole. “If one part of the client changes, then eventually the system will change. If the whole system starts to change, then that client is going to grow, learn, and be able to launch into the world at a faster rate.”, noted DeFrancia while elaborating on how parents catalyze such change. Family coaching provides a safe space for developing better communication skills between parent and young adult, while also providing space for regulating the common anxieties seen from the parents during this collective transitional period. Therefore, in terms of an attachment focus, DeFrancia noted how family coaching serves as a key element in building and maintaining momentum towards establishing a healthy attachment between parent and young adult.
Support Beyond Immediate Family
Trails Momentum recognizes that young adults need a connection that is rooted not only within their immediate family but may also be within their extended family that is found within the sense of community and society. Also recognized is the societal shift away from this idea of “extended family”, hence why Trails Momentum has geared its programs towards cultivating this necessary component of community to facilitate that meaningful connection with its students. DeFrancia commended the dynamic found within the Momentum community, stating that “multiple generations are interacting, supporting one another, talking and working through things together, placing importance on how each member – each generation – contributes to society”. While technology has no role in the Momentum programs, it does have a very integral role in our society. Therefore, Momentum programs and life coaches like DeFrancia focus on cultivating healthy attachments and connections through technology outside of the programs by providing the skills necessary for regulation. By putting in parameters of what’s healthy and not healthy for both student and parent, these boundaries are able to provide the platform from which both individual and collective regulation and growth can result.
When asked what is the most successful approach seen in family coaching, DeFrancia highlighted that the main benefit of coaching is that treatment is extremely individualized. Given that life coaches can address the specific, individual needs of family members, as well as the possible demands of a specific family dynamic, this approach provides grounds for more effective treatment across the board. DeFrancia framed this by emphasizing that family coaching provides the necessary reassurance, guidance, clarity, and answers that parents need throughout their journey with their young adult for the program to yield the most effective results. Trust is another main focal point of Trails Momentum, one of which the Momentum team is always trying to build. Given that trust is a critical part of the entire process, Trails Momentum focuses on establishing the necessary component of trust amongst families before engaging in their program. In visiting their website, one can navigate through their database of informational resources on the dynamic of Trails Momentum, types and focuses of the offered programs, and are provided with the opportunity to watch videos to understand who will be working with them and the type of work they will be doing. Furthering this emphasis and goal, DeFrancia quoted that “placing trust within the program and those working with your young adult, while using your family coach as a resource for your own processing, will allow you to come into the later interaction with the primary therapist and your young adult with confidence. This will then allow your young adult to get through the program with confidence.”
Trails Momentum can help
Trails Momentum is a wilderness therapy program for young adults ages 18-25. This program uses adventure-based therapy as a tool to help young adults improve self-regulation and overall functioning ability. Our program provides an individualized treatment plan to each of our students, focusing on the needs and strengths of each young adult. We help to provide the tools, resources, healing space, and inspiration needed to change the lives of young adults, helping them lead happy and successful adult lives.
For more information about how our program at Trails Momentum can help struggling young adults, please contact us over the phone at (828) 457-8840.