Family Services

Family Services

The Yellowbrick Family Model: Parents As Partners

The Family Program at Yellowbrick is known as Parents as Partners. This represents our understanding that parents and Yellowbrick together partner with the adolescent or emerging adult in treatment. Yellowbrick also partners with parents separately in creating a process that will support shared goals in treatment. Finally, Yellowbrick has come to value the power and meaning of parents from different families partnering to support and learn from each other.


Parents as Partners offers opportunities for parents to learn about adolescence and emerging adulthood as distinct phases of development in health and illness. There are multiple forums, both formal and informal, for parents to experience and explore new ways of communicating and relating to their young person and to treatment staff. Formal venues include the monthly Parents as Partners weekend program, a twice-monthly parent call-in forum, Family Rounds Conferences and family therapy. The educational component of the Parents as Partners weekend is structured as a “day in the life” of Yellowbrick treatment. This intentional format includes Mindfulness introduction, followed by an educational presentation devoted to a particular aspect of emerging adulthood, and concluding with a facilitated process group for parents (Multiple Parent Group). In addition to building supportive connections between parents and Yellowbrick, as well as parents with one another, these programs provide educational support for families to build a deeper and more complete understanding of the neurobiological-developmental forces at play in their current struggles.


In addition to educational scaffolding, family treatment at Yellowbrick unfolds against a backdrop of community. Just as there is no change without disruption, family treatment can be messy – emotionally activating in ways that disrupt the family’s usual process for managing stressful life experiences . Yellowbrick recognizes the need for communal support for family members as they navigate these inevitable cycles of activation, disruption and recovery. Communal support-especially peer support from other parents – is built into the Yellowbrick treatment model. Families seeking treatment at Yellowbrick are invited to join a community, not simply stand by while their adolescent or emerging adult receives certain units of service.

The Parents as Partners weekends contribute to community in several ways: by creating a day-long shared treatment experience for parents, including the Multiple Parent Group and the Multiple Family Group; by providing informal opportunities for parents to talk with one another over shared meals, including the Family Brunch at The Residence (prepared by peers with staff support); and by promoting dialogue with treatment staff through group discussions and Family Rounds.

Connected autonomy

Yellowbrick’s model emphasizes the developmental concept of connected autonomy. Connected autonomy focuses on re-connecting with trust and security through authentic engagement; establishing separateness; and collaboratively negotiating needs for both generations. It also means approaching often complex emotions regarding integrating the past into an experience of family within which all individuals are challenged to change. We have learned that connected autonomy requires emotional safety within the family; developmentally appropriate limits from parents; boundaries that protect the integrity of confidential treatment relationships; trust between family members and Yellowbrick; and clear, transparent expectations and accountability on everyone’s part.

At the outset of treatment, each family is assigned a Family Liaison, who serves as the family’s personal communication link with the rest of the treatment team. In this role, the Family Liaison supports and maintains the boundary of privacy and confidentiality between parents and emerging adult (or adolescent) patient vis a vis confidential treatment relationships, while also ensuring that parents have ready access to a senior member of the professional staff to ask questions, voice concerns, problem-solve, and seek guidance and support. The relationship between family and Family Liaison becomes a powerful crucible for change in the family system. For not only does the Family Liaison co-conduct all family therapy sessions and Family Rounds, the Family Liaison also models in action the transformative power of openness and transparency, emotional fluency, and distress tolerance in the context of family relationships.

Family Therapy

Family engagement at Yellowbrick proceeds through a series of formal and informal processes of supportive connection, communication and activation. Family therapy brings these processes into focus to address the fundamental developmental and relational impasses that brought the family into treatment. At Yellowbrick, all family therapy is conducted as co-therapy with the Family Liaison (serving as primary family therapist) and the patient’s primary therapist, or Advocate. The Advocate’s role in family therapy is to support the patient to find and use their voice effectively in family process, to express feelings and needs without retreating into silence or using actions to communicate instead. Family therapy is individualized as to frequency and duration, with a focus that largely derives from the patient’s own expressed goals for treatment. At times, siblings and significant others may be included, with or without the presence of parents, in accordance with the individual’s treatment needs and goals.

The Yellowbrick model of family therapy probably resembles most of those models of family therapy that favor dialogue, transparency and the collaborative exploration of tensions, polarities, stuck points, and competing agendas – in the service of supporting connected autonomy. It is a model informed by contemporary neuroscience, as well as psychoanalytic perspectives of affective and interpersonal processes, within the developmental context of adolescence and emerging adulthood.

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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.

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    Real-Time Treatment for Emerging Adults and their Families

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    Major Depressive Disorder

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    Thought Disorder

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    We are committed to the developing specialized services for adopted emerging adults and their families.