The wilderness environment is the underlying basis for all of our programs. Wilderness living provides a unique environment and opportunities for personal growth; challenge is an integral part of this change. It is the process of working through challenges that builds self-esteem and efficacy, the cornerstones of success. The Wilderness environment provides a respite from the distractions and influences of the outside world. This environment allows participants to focus on themselves with time and space for personal reflection. It is the ideal context for recognizing strengths, working through new challenges, building life-skills and cultivating positive behaviors. Wilderness provides a metaphor for interdependence, adaptability and skills; integral components of developing a community of positive behaviors; and common goals necessary for group and individual success. Participants are able to view themselves as individuals in the context of the larger community of the group. They are given an opportunity to overcome both personal and group challenges. Alaskans have a unique relationship with wilderness. We believe that the wilderness is a valuable resource to be appreciated and utilized as an opportunity for adventure and challenge.
Alaska Crossings is a strength based program. We employ trauma informed staff who deliver behavioral health services through an experiential model to youth who are struggling to function positively at home, school or in the community. We work with youth and families throughout the program to address individual goals that are identified to help the youth and family be successful. While with Alaska Crossings, youth build skills in social functioning, structure and routine, self-motivation, effective communication and positive work ethic. They learn how to be successful as an individual as well as part of a group or community in conjunction to the hard skills needed for wilderness expeditions. The youth and families work with their case management and clinical teams to develop an effective home coming plan, setting youth up with positive supports and activities in the home community.
The therapeutic process with Alaska Crossings begins with an initial screening form to initially establish appropriateness. Following the screening, a psycho-social assessment is the next step administered by our clinicians to determine if our program is the best match for your youth. Generally this consists of a telephonic conversation between one of our clinicians, the youth, the parent or guardian, and any other adults involved in the youth’s care. Over the course of the assessment and intake process, an individualized treatment plan is developed specifically to address the needs and goals of the client and family.
The Alaska Crossings Phase Model
We have come to recognize that there is a natural progression to the process of adjusting to and getting the most out of your Crossings experience. Our program follows three phases described below to best meet the needs of our individual clients and their families while simultaneously accomplishing successful group expeditions in the back-country of Southeast Alaska. Clinicians provide clinical support and direction to the Field Guide team and Case Management team throughout the course of an Alaska Crossings program.
Phase I - Structural Foundation and Routine
The initial phase of the program is characterized by structure and routine. Safety is the primary focus as our participants are taught the necessary hard skills to be successful and comfortable in the marine environment. During this time, participants learn about safety gear, how to paddle a canoe, set up and break down camp, organize their gear to stay warm and dry, and how to attend to their self-care needs in the back-country. Groups work together to set up a routine and a culture that will help them to feel physically and emotionally comfortable and to be successful over the course of their journey. Our guides focus on teaching skills, maintaining safety, building relationships, and supporting our clients in coping with homesickness and other initial challenges. Simultaneously, our clinicians and case managers are working with families to support them in identifying areas for positive change at home. Parent/guardians will work with their case manager to write a letter to their child that addresses specific challenges, choices and behaviors that lead to the need for Alaska Crossings' services.
Phase II - Personal Development
Once positive relationships have been formed and a strong productive community has been established, the group moves into the next phase of treatment. During this phase, the participants and their guides start to really zero in on each individual’s maladaptive behaviors and treatment goals. Problematic behaviors and dysfunctional coping habits are addressed for the purpose of developing healthy strategies that lead to positive changes. The participants learn new skills, how to manage their emotions, positive replacement behaviors, and communication techniques. During this time, case managers, clinicians and families are also working to process the challenges the participants were experiencing at home and developing strategies to promote healing and future growth.
Phase III - Homecoming Plan and Community Focus
The prospect of coming home is all at once very exciting and a little scary. Our families and participants have learned a lot and made positive changes on their own, and during this phase is when everything comes together. During this phase, guides and clinicians are working with the participants on how to take what they learned while with Alaska Crossings home to their families and home community. Participants focus on community service and returning to home communities with identified interests and participation plans. Homecoming plans are developed as the participants and families share their hopes and expectations and establish positive communication guidelines. Case managers and clinicians work hard with families to establish relationships with mentors and providers in the community to help set the participants up for success.