Havenwood Academy's Research Based

Therapeutic Methods

Havenwood Academy uses evidence-based therapies to deal with complex trauma.  We regularly use Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Dialectic Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and Brainspotting; all of which are well researched and proven trauma-specific therapeutic interventions.  We often pull information and methodology from leading and pioneering researchers including Dr. Bruce Perry, Dr. Dan Siegel and Dr. Bessel van Der Kolk to ensure that we stay on the cutting edge of the best practices in our specialty. Every treatment plan specifically and carefully integrates the best practices available to respond to and treat each young woman’s particular needs and struggles.

Havenwood Academy utilizes a multi-therapeutic approach to deliver therapy that includes individual, family, and group sessions on a weekly basis. We believe that “treatment” is an integrated process that combines therapy with academics, life skills and experiential opportunities designed to promote future success and personal empowerment.  The combination of all of Havenwood Academy’s therapeutic methods delivered in its unique environment has been shown to create positive, long-term results for our young women and their families.


Brainspotting is a relatively new and powerful therapeutic tool used for treating trauma and emotional pain. It is related to and an outgrowth of EMDR that helps a client identify and reprocess core sources of emotional pain, trauma, and a variety of other challenging symptoms. Brainspotting reveals a client’s unprocessed traumas through fixed eye positions, “brainspots”.

By identifying these brainspots while reprocessing the trauma they reveal, our teen girls are able to deactivate the troubling emotions surrounding the trauma. They heal.

View The Research Here


Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a powerful psychotherapy that enables people to reprocess and heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of trauma. Studies show that by using EMDR therapy people can much more rapidly experience the benefits of psychotherapy that might have taken years to achieve using other methods.

EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma.

View The Research Here


Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback that presents real-time feedback from brain activity that is then used to reinforce healthy brain function. While that may sound complicated, in practicality it is a simple process. Electrical activity from the brain is collected via sensors placed on the scalp and feedback is presented using video displays.

Our teens are then able to better monitor and even soothe traumatized response centers in their brain. They are able to heal their own brains using this tool. The evidence supporting neurotherapy for generalized treatment of mental disorders and trauma is compelling.

What distinguishes Neurofeedback from Brainspotting and EMDR is that Neurofeedback is best for generalized trauma responses and Brainspotting and EMDR are best for specific traumas.


Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy. DBT teaches people how to live in the moment, cope healthily with stress, regulate emotions, and improve relationships with others. It is one of the methods that is often used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

View The Research Here

Placement Specific Therapies

Being placed in a program is often, in and of itself, traumatic to both young women and their families. We utilize a number of therapeutic approaches to address this traumatic experience helping to clear the way to move rapidly towards treating the underlying conditions.

Equine Therapy

All of the therapeutic interventions at Havenwood focus on experiences that can help heal the brain from trauma. Our equine therapy is no exception. Equine therapy is an experiential treatment method that uses the connection between people and horses to enhance emotional healing.

Among other things, equine therapy teaches our teens to read nonverbal communication. So often, our traumatized teenagers don't track the verbal communication of the adults in their lives. They are oblivious to the cues they are being given. They ignore people who are reaching out to them. It is powerful to have the subtle nonverbal cues that a horse gives become easily read by our students. It teaches our teens to pay close attention and be connected in order to understand what is going on around them.

All of our students are given the opportunity to have at least one equine group per week. Some refuse but almost all participate. For those that really gravitate to the equine interactions we have advanced equine therapy sessions once a week for them.

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Experiential or Recreation Therapy

As part of the clinical process, we utilize an experiential program to help the students learn skill mastery and team-building skills as a way to help them overcome some of the challenges they face. With our Experiential Coordinator's guidance, we take teenagers into nature to experience nature and its healing abilities.

Recreational activities include hiking, wading, boating, disc golf, slacklining and more. When not adventuring on the weekends, we focus on team building, communication, and collaboration skills. Each teen gets four group sessions each week with our experiential program.

Through these activities, we get to assess our teens in unique ways that help support each client's overall treatment process. Additionally, experiential activities teach them important life skills that will help them with better interactions at home with their families and with the community as a whole.

Therapy Sessions

Individual Therapy

Each young woman participates in individual therapy at least once a week where they meet with a licensed mental health clinician who provides a safe and supportive, yet challenging, environment for them to process their thoughts, feelings and experiences.  Each clinician is trained in all Zion Hills’ therapeutic methods and will utilize them to best support healing.

Family Therapy

While in the program, each young woman and her family participate in weekly family therapy sessions.  Since our goal from the first day in the program is family reunification, these sessions are designed to address unhealthy family dynamics and to lay the groundwork for lifelong family relationships.

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Group Therapy

We operate several group therapy sessions each week to address issues that our young women may be struggling with and to present other routes for healing.  The three group areas are as follows:

SMART Recovery

This group is designed to help those you women who have or may be using maladaptive coping skills in the form of addictions.  Our young women learn the following tools and techniques: 

  • Building and Maintaining Motivation
  • Coping with Temptation
  • Managing Thoughts, Feelings and Behaviors
  • Living a Balanced Life


Once our young women have had some successes in overcoming underlying traumas, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) provides them with an understanding of the purposes of emotions and how to deal with them in a proactive manner as well as tools to deal with and manage painful emotions.  DBT is a must have skill set for any adolescent to have the necessary tool set for life.

Emotional Resilience

This group is designed to help our young women develop high levels of emotional resilience to help them cope with difficulties they will face throughout life.