This introduction is an effort on Yellowbrick’s part to present to prospective emerging adults, their families, and professional referents with the scientific basis for Yellowbrick’s clinical model. Yellowbrick is exceptional in having created a treatment center which has a coherent model based upon inter-disciplinary research and the clinical wisdom of experienced clinicians scholars. The pillars of the model include:
Yellowbrick has evolved its theoretical approach to assessment and treatment within the framework of developmental, interpersonal neurobiology. The model is founded on state-of-the art integration of current research and scholarship in the areas of evolutionary biology, neuroscience, developmental psychology, the full range of cognitive-behavioral & interpersonal (neuro-psychoanalytic) psychotherapies, and executive functioning/life-skills approaches in treatment.
The desired developmental outcomes of treatment with emerging adults are:
(Arnett 2003, Schore 2012, Siegel 2012, Cozolino 2015)
Within this developmental framework, Yellowbrick’s treatment enhances brain neuroplasticity, removing interferences to neural growth, and otherwise facilitating the normative developmental maturation of the brain, mind and spirit during the window of emerging adulthood (late teens to early 30’s). In recognition of the vitally necessary foundation of nurturing relationships for neural and personal growth, all of Yellowbrick’s clinical services occur in the context of an Open Setting Therapeutic Community. This means that relationships are mutual, collaborative and transparent rather than based on power, control or responsibility for others’ choices. It is only under those conditions of interpersonal safety that authority can be located within the emerging adult and troubled parts of self will be willing to come forward.
Yellowbrick clinically operationalizes the power of research based neurobiological principles. Hope, which itself promotes neuroplasticity, is offered through explanation of the concepts of epigenesis and how adolescence through the third decade of life is a window of maturational opportunity due to enhanced neuroplasticity. Hippocrates understood something crucial about neuroplasticity over two millennia ago; “That which is used – develops; that which is not – wastes away”. Yellowbrick embraces this principle by offering repetitive experiences for learning and practicing of new skills and adaptive patterns in situ while living in the community. ReCognition is Yellowbrick’s brain gym utilizing neuropsychologist developed video games for enhancing neural growth in the network centers responsible for attention, concentration, working memory and processing speed. Most importantly, peer & staff as a Community encourage persistence and the taking of supported risks, both of which promote new neural networking. Donald Hebb in 1948 introduced the principle of “what fires together wires together”; “any two cells or systems of cells that are repeatedly active at the same time will tend to become ‘associated’ so that activity in one facilitates activity in the other”. This principle creates challenges as patient’s often have developed associative pathways which maladaptively link networks. Sexual arousal links with aggression from repeated viewing of pornography. Joy can only be experienced with substances. Power and connection to others becomes associated exclusively with videogame prowess. Yellowbrick works to undermine these pathways (ex: sobriety, Exposure Response Prevention) and create new pathways through experiences of connectedness, authentic intimacy and competence.
A fundamental evidence-based premise of Yellowbrick’s model is that acute and/or complex psychiatric patients live in a state of brain dysregulation which defaults to automatic symptomatic and behavioral systems and thereby negatively reinforce the dysregulation (Solms, Panksepp). The preponderance of treatment programs attempt to intervene with what are essentially learning and coping skill strategies at a time when the brain is too dysregulated to be fully receptive to these approaches. Medication alone is an insufficient neuromodulation effort in complex conditions because the automatic, default behaviors continue to undermine brain regulation and medication impact is often incomplete and often takes weeks to months to have full effect.
Yellowbrick’s model initially prioritizes facilitating brain regulation as a precondition for introducing activating emotional learning. For those whom this approach remains insufficient, not just incomplete, after 12 weeks, a deeper neuro-psychoanalytic psychotherapy approach is required to bring the self-regulating power of the attachment systems further into the process.
Yellowbrick appreciates the level of personal and financial commitment required of families to secure world class care and personalized customer service. Treatment at Yellowbrick is customized. Individuals whose psychiatric condition has persisted for several years and/or created safety risks and/or a period of incapacity to function within a developmental continuum have better outcomes with a more extended support platform and continued intensive treatment at varying levels of care to sustain an enduring recovery (deMaat 2009, Webart 2012, Shedler 2010, 2018). While there is no minimum or maximum length of stay, Yellowbrick has created a flexible 8 month/34-week treatment plan which has three phases:
Yellowbrick’s experience is that most individuals require a minimum of 12 weeks to regulate their brain, restrain from defeating behavioral patterns and practice new adaptive actions, establish sustaining collaborative connections with staff, peers and parents, and initiate actions consistent with values, interests and ambitions. Yellowbrick’s most intensive PHP level of care is therefore organized around a 12-week neuromodulation curriculum. Transition from The Residence to an apartment in Evanston supported by home visits often occurs successfully at the close of the Neuromodulation Phase of care.
Yellowbrick recommends for most individuals that there be a 4-week period of continued full-time programming following the Neuromodulation Phase with a shift to the full Life Strategies program within the Self & Skill Consolidation Phase. The next phase of treatment is an individualized 8-week extended period of Life Strategies IOP at a customized lower level of intensity. The last 8-week Community Integration segment of treatment involves individual and family work along with executive function and life-skill support while living in the community. Following transition from active treatment, Alumni in Good Standing are eligible for Tuesday and Friday night Community dinners, and Parents as Partners Sunday brunches with the Yellowbrick Community at no charge.
Yellowbrick’s developmental, interpersonal neurobiological model is designed to calm the threat response (limbic) system, and thereby open receptivity to techniques for increasing cortical governance resulting in new learning and emotional growth. The model also facilitates the natural maturation of those brain systems which are coming “on-line” in the developmental window from age 16 into the young 30’s (Siegel 1999, Giedd 2012, Schore 2017). Yellowbrick’s intensive treatment program targets four dimensions of brain functioning necessary for disrupting maladaptive automatic default systems and behavioral patterns.
These technologies include:
These technologies include:
Since the paradigm changing work of John Bowlby which was dramatically validated by the Harlow monkey and Romanian orphan studies, it has been increasingly evident that all human growth and development requires secure, safe and nourishing attachments. It has now been replicated by neuroimaging studies demonstrating that effective psychotherapy enhances neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the molecular engine for creating new synapses which are the structural architecture of learning, healing and growth. In addition to cortical governance, attachments are a fundamental vehicle for effectively addressing emotional distress.
For the less troubled among us who seek mental health care, supportive and cognitive psychotherapy approaches activate latent potentials for secure attachment which had been suppressed during times of significant stress. In contrast, complex psychiatric conditions are embedded within persons whose attachment patterns and development have been arrested, derailed and distorted by trauma, illness, chronicity, the resultant distortion of family and community support systems, and the malignant consequences to one’s personhood from persistently living in terror, helplessness or pain. For these individuals, relationships become threats or at best barely useable for the emotional nutrients of emotional healing and growth. Tragically, relationships often become weapons of re-traumatization.
Yellowbrick’s experience experience is that for those individuals who have experienced a significant psychiatric occurrence (ex: singular trauma, onset of psychosis, major depression or mania, suicide attempt, etc.) but whose self-development has achieved some degree of secure attachment, transition to office outpatient care with enduring outcome and functioning can be achieved within the 12 week curriculum of care of Yellowbrick’s Neuromodulation Intensive Treatment Program as described above. For those with complex psychiatric disorders and severe personality disorders who need a more in-depth neuro-psychoanalytic psychotherapy approach (Schore 2012, Ginot 2015, Cozzalino 2017), length of stay in the most intensive levels of care averages 3-4 months and optimally extends at lower levels of care for another 4-8 months.
Yellowbrick’s Open Therapeutic Community model (Muller 2006) is the optimal platform for both supportive and in-depth psychotherapy. In contrast to traditional settings which operate on the basis of authority, power and subtle iatrogenic coercion, the Open Setting emphasizes transparency and collaborative relationships as the basis for safety and individual responsibility. This allows the deeper parts of the troubled self to come forward rather than hide in the face of others’ power. Yellowbrick has 12 years of outcome data demonstrating the value of this model (L. Viner, 2019).
Yellowbrick’s services are offered to enable customization of level of care spanning residential to home health visits. Transitions best derive collaboratively from Family Rounds strategic planning meetings involving emerging adult, parents, Professional Staff and the Medical Director. Patients are followed by the same care team throughout their treatment regardless of level of care.
Yellowbrick hopes this description of our model and services can support trust and confidence in consideration of joining Yellowbrick in a partnership extending to the emerging adult, family, and the professional community. For those already working within Yellowbrick, it is out hope this description enhances your understanding and willingness to make full use of our model.
Yellowbrick collaborates with adolescents and emerging adults, ages 16-30's, their families and participating professionals toward the development and implementation of a strategic “Life Plan.” An integrative, multi-specialty consultation clarifies strengths, limitations, and risks, and defines motivations, goals and choices.
A mental health condition that’s characterized by intense shifts in mood including both manic and depressive episodes.
People living with Major Depressive Disorder, or MDD, experience episodes of depression and sadness that are debilitating to daily life.
Those living with anxiety disorders experience high levels of anxiety and stress that interfere negatively with daily life.
A mental health issue in which a person’s cognitive function is impaired, resulting in symptoms like experiencing challenges with conducting speech, reading and writing, and behavior.
Mental health disorders that negatively affect a person’s behaviors, thought patterns, and function. People diagnosed with these disorders experience challenges with managing relationships and understanding various situations.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental health condition that people can develop as a result of experiencing traumatic situations, characterized by symptoms including flashbacks, avoidance behaviors, and more.
A mental health condition that is characterized by specific symptoms of forgetfulness and lack of concentration, which makes it challenging to complete necessary tasks.
Mental health conditions that interfere with a person’s eating habits, thought patterns, and behaviors in negative ways.
A mental health disorder diagnosable with the DSM-5 that is characterized by both obsessions and compulsive behaviors.