Phoenix House San Diego Offers Equestrian Therapy and Wins Accolades

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013

Cabin at Phoenix House Academy of Descanso Residential Treatment for TeensThe peaceful, rural location of Phoenix House Academy of San Diego among the picturesque hills and valleys of Descanso, CA, is one of its greatest assets. Troubled teenagers that need hehavioral health treatment may find there a healthy natural environment, a fully accredited high school, a full scope of extra-curricular activities and state-of-the-art treatment services, offered by experienced mental health professionals.

Phoenix House receives the California Alliance Accreditation

The Senior Director of Phoenix House San Diego, Elizabeth Urquhart, has often been featured at conferences and symposia as an expert in adolescent treatment issues. She recently attended the California Winter 2013 Executive’s Conference  of the Alliance of Child and Family Services. The event was held on February 20-22, 2013 in Napa, CA, and it  highlighted how the Alliance is both driving changes and helping its members respond to others. On behalf of the entire Phoenix House organization in California, she received the Certificate of Accreditation by the California Alliance, confirming our successful re-accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Relabilitation Facilities (CARF). It is a notable achievement of Phoenix House that the California Alliance accreditation was awarded without site visits or review, relying solely on the successful re-accreditation by CARF.

Dir. Elizabeth Urquhart teachesat Phoenix House Academy of San DiegoParticipation in the conference keeps our senior managers up to date about research findings in their areas of expertise. Ms. Urquhart commented: ““It is clear that the world of children and family services continues to change rapidly… Poignant topics discussed, relevant to Phoenix House Academy of San Diego, included realignment of California child welfare services, implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and the adoption of AB 114. The Alliance provided plenaries and workshops for member agencies to think about how they can effectively adapt to these changes.”

Thanks to the leadership of Ms. Urquhart, the Phoenix House Academy of San Diego recently completed its transition to a higher level of care, with more intensive mental health treatment services, smaller groups, a greater number of well-trained professional staff, and additional activities including equestrian therapy.

Equestrian Program at the Academy

One of the unique features of our services in Descanso is the availability of an Equestrian Program for teens in residence. Working with horses has a proven therapeutic value and our services greatly benefit from a long-standing collaboration with Delcie Dahlstrom, equestrian trainer. She recently welcomed a group of six Phoenix House students to her Horse Haven Ranch. This equestrian program replaces the previous collaboration with the Horse of the Sun nonprofit.

Ms. Dahlstrom commented: “Phoenix House was a success! These kids are wise beyond their years, and I cannot and do not pretend to know what they have gone thru. But I can tell you this. When they come to my house and this is my personal house where I have raised my kids, I want them to know they are welcome. I want them to know and I tell them: I don’t know what you are going thru, but know tPhoenix House Academy student in an equestrian therapy classhis, when you come here, to my home, I want you to leave all your cares and concerns behind you. I want you for these two hours to feel freedom, freedom to express yourself, to open your heart to new opportunities with these horses, to let yourself be vulnerable, be afraid, be anxious, be optimistic or pessimistic, be yourself, and explore who you are about.”

“The horses will bring this out in you naturally. I want you to have fun, I want this to be enjoyable, and if it has to be sad, then that is what it is. These horses bring out the best in all of us, I have seen it over and over. These boys are fine young boys, I want them to know I care about them. I am in no way just an instructor, trying to give lessons, I need to let these boys know, how connecting with these animals, will make them see their true self and self-worth.”

For more information about our substance abuse and mental health treatment programs, or to refer someone in need for admission to our residential or outpatient services for teens with co-occurring disorders at the Phoenix House Academy of San Diego in Descanso and Teen Recovery Center in Carlsbad, CA, please call our Call Center at 1 888 671 9392. We are here to help you find the information and services you need!

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