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.

We also utilize Equine therapy based on the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA), the gold standard for equine therapy.  EAGALA therapy incorporates horses that are highly attuned to and offer a safe space for clients to make communication and connection breakthroughs.

Havenwood Academy utilizes a multi-therapeutic approach to deliver therapy that includes individual, family, group and equine 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.


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.

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Brainspotting is new and powerful therapeutic method for treating trauma and emotional pain.  Brainspotting 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) that identify an area of the mind that retains troubling thoughts and emotions.  Like EMDR, this method allows the mind to heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma.

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Equine Therapy

Havenwood Academy’s Equine Director is trained in the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EGALA) program and has designed a unique equine therapy model for treating trauma and attachment issues.  Many of the benefits of equine therapy are likely due to the nature of the animals with which the young woman is interacting. Horses are non-judgmental, have no preconceived expectations or motives, and because they are by nature prey animals, they are constantly monitoring their environment and are highly effective at mirroring attitudes and behaviors of the young women with whom they are working.  This gives our young women a unique and effective opportunity to identify and correct their tendencies to engage in self-defeating and otherwise negative thoughts and behaviors.

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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).

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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.

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.

Equine Therapy

Equine sessions occur once a week with a small group of young women in attendance under the direction of our Equine Specialist.  There are some ancillary programs that we have developed for our young women to participate in including horsemanship, riding at the appropriate time and even involving mini horses.  These sessions are regularly scheduled throughout the program.

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.