Our Approach to Treatment

Project Courage was built on the premise that meaningful change needs to happen not only within clients, but also within the field of mental health and substance abuse treatment.  We believe that barriers in the form of standards, customs, and procedures have presented themselves to our clients that have had the unfortunate effect of pushing them away.  Project Courage holds that it is not just our clients that need to fall under the microscope of self-examination.   

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As brain imaging technologies become more and more advanced, new research shows that substance abuse disorders and mental health conditions are physiological issues more than psychological issues. While many people may believe “it’s all in your head,” there is plenty of evidence that substance abuse and mental health disorders are caused by physical, measurable changes in the brain.

To provide effective assessment and treatment, mental health providers must understand the role of brain development and functioning in substance abuse disorders. Furthermore, providers should know how environment can affect the manifestation of substance abuse disorders or other mental health issues in the brain. Therefore, Project Courage takes a brain-in-environment, or BIE, approach to treatment.This perspective may change how clients and their families view substance abuse disorders. Rather than viewing their struggle as a psychological issue that causes weakness, clients can see it as a biological issue that developed so they could function in their environment.

The BIE perspective also changes the treatment itself. We focus on treatment interventions that create a physical change in the brain. Although talking through struggles can be helpful, the brain benefits much more from actually doing something instead of just speaking. With this information in mind, we utilize experiential, physical interventions that engage the brain. For example, we use meditation techniques because they activate the frontal lobe, which is underdeveloped during adolescence. We also focus on treatment strategies that involve emotional regulation, which works with the limbic system, a region of the brain that tends to be very dominant during adolescence.

Change Theory

Our other major treatment perspective is Change Theory. According to Change Theory, everyone makes progress in clear, defined stages. To provide the proper treatment interventions, it’s essential for mental health providers to be able to identify which stage of change a client is in.

While other treatment models try to force clients to conform to their own vision for change, our approach allows care providers to meet clients at their current level of change. Some clients may begin treatment with an awareness of the need for change, and others may be far from acknowledging their need for change. Wherever the clients are, we can identify their stage of change and work with them from there.

Family Focus

Especially for adolescents and young adult clients, educating and supporting families is an important step in the treatment process. Project Courage uses family-based interventions, including parental coaching, educational sessions, and family therapy, to help families of people receiving treatment. We can assess families and help them decide on the level of intensity of their family work.

Thorough Assessment

Assessment is a critical part of the treatment process. However, it can be tedious and time-consuming for the client and the clinician. Therefore, we use a creative approach to make a comprehensive assessment with less administration time. In addition to the traditional assessment topics, we can also assess the client’s brain, development, readiness to change, family, and client’s strengths, all of which help us create a treatment plan.