New Approach to Treatment – TRIP at Phoenix House Academy of Los Angeles

Saturday, March 10th, 2012
LaRae Neal, Director of Phoenix House Academy welcomes TCU's Danica Knight, Ph.D.

LaRae Neal, Director of Phoenix House Academy welcomes TCU's researcher Danica Knight, Ph.D.

What is TRIP?  This acronym stands for Treatment Retention and Induction Program, a new curriculum for adolescents created by a team of scholars from Institute of Behavioral Research at the Texas Christian University. The curriculum is currently being tested in a selected number of sites around the country, to determine the effectiveness in improving motivation and engagement in the first few weeks of treatment.

Three TCU researchers, Dr. Patrick Flynn, Dr. Jennifer Becan, and Dr. Danica Knight came to Los Angeles to participate in the “Practice to Research Roundtable – Treatment Retention and Induction Program” held on Wednesday, February 22, 2012 at the Phoenix House Academy of Los Angeles. The Roundtable included Phoenix House clinical staff from our programs in Los Angeles (the Academy, Mental Health, and Outpatient Programs at the Academy and at the Probation Camps at Lake Hughes) and from our Mental Health Services at Crossroads Correctional Facility in Bakersfield. Our guests included clinical and administrative staff from: the Los Angeles County Probation Department (Felicia Davis), Los Angeles County’s Substance Abuse Prevention and Control Department (Michelle Gibson), and Kern County Probation Department’s Crossroads Facility (Thad Kennedy, Michael Joseph, and Maggie Murphy).

Phoenix House's LaRae Neal, Santiago Zepeda-Ortiz talk to Jennifer Edwards, Ph.D., TCU researcher

Phoenix House's LaRae Neal & Santiago Zepeda-Ortiz talk to TCU researcher, Jennifer Edwards, Ph.D.,

The TCU team presented the overview of the program and the latest information about the progress of its implementation around the country. TRIP is an eight-session curriculum that targets choices and thinking patterns, using mapping and guided discussion to help teens understand and practice making decisions about their future. Teens are assessed using TCU Client Evaluation of Self and Treatment (CEST) before and after participation in the groups. These assessments measure an individual’s functioning in a variety of psychological and social domains.  Thinking patterns around drug use, impulsivity, and criminality are also assessed. So, far the results indicated progress and effectiveness of this approach. TRIP is currently offered by Phoenix House Academies in Los Angeles and Santa Ana, OrangeCounty.

Dr. Patrick Flynn (Institute of Behavioral Health at Texas Christian University), and Elizabeth Stanley-Salazar, VP and Clinical Director of Phoenix House

Dr. Patrick Flynn (Institute of Behavioral Health at Texas Christian University), and Elizabeth Stanley-Salazar, VP and Clinical Director of Phoenix House

After the TCU presentation, the Los Angeles Academy’s Senior Counselor, Santiago Zepeda-Ortiz, gave an overview of the progress of his students. A general discussion followed focusing on further issues to explore, useful additions to the program, its implementation in other settings, etc. The TRIP curriculum was initiated at Phoenix House Academies at Lake View Terrace, Orange County, Dallas, and Austin in November 2011 and continues to be offered to groups of students enrolled in our residential programs. Those who have already completed TRIP groups made positive comments about their experience and the usefulness of the curriculum in their lives:

  • “Mapping my problems taught me how to organize a certain idea I have and it shows me all possible choices I have and which choices benefit me the most.”
  • “Maps helped me out by taking stuff step by step and having organized thoughts.”
  • I use “Nudge it” in school. I look at my grades and nudge myself to continue working in class.”

In fact, some students expressed interest in returning to the group and comparing their answers given at intake with their thinking later in treatment. Participating Phoenix House Academies will continue to serve as TRIP pilot sites and the new approach will continue to benefit our students.

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