Next Step Program for Troubled Teenage Girls
When your teen girl has been at Shepherd’s Hill Academy for approximately ten months, her therapeutic goals and overall progress are evaluated to determine her eligibility for the Girls Next Step Program. If eligible, your teenage girl can be promoted into the Girls Next Step Program for the remainder of her enrollment at Shepherd’s Hill Academy.
The Next Step Program continues the experiential living and learning opportunities presented to troubled teens at Shepherd’s Hill Academy. At this stage in your teen’s journey she has the option to transition out of her therapeutic outdoor adventure and into a fully furnished home on campus. This provides students an opportunity to specifically fine-tune the work they have already started in their outdoor therapeutic experience as they prepare for their return home. In the Next Step Program, students have access to local TV stations, video games, and other technological devices. Given their increased liberties, Shepherd’s Hill Academy staff have an opportunity to evaluate each student on a deeper and individualized level—giving them a better chance to see where each student really is psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually.
The Girls Next Step Program provides residents with a living environment more closely resembling what is found in a healthy and functional home. They are no longer required to live in the rustic environment of the Outdoor Program. Instead, residents live on the main campus in traditional houses with full amenities. The goal is to challenge the students with some of the freedoms and choices common to the home environment they will soon be returning to.
In the Girls Next Step Program, Shepherd’s Hill Academy still maintains a 5 to 1 student-to-staff ratio. In addition, the Boys Next Step Program remains completely separate from the girls program. There is positively no interaction between boys and girls while attending Shepherd’s Hill Academy. Students do not need to complicate their healing process with opposite sex relationships. Their focus should be on their own healing, family relationships, and faith.
Once students have taken the Next Step and are living in their new environment, they are entrusted with more responsibilities, activities, and privileges.
Girls are given employment opportunities on campus. These part-time jobs give teen girls a chance to earn an income while learning responsibility and a proper work ethic. In addition, they are trained how to properly manage their income by learning prudent and biblically-based money management skills.
In addition to on-campus jobs, the girls in Next Step are also given various on and off-campus activities and events to attend. These could range from helping at local homeless shelters and nursing homes to helping with various other responsibilities around campus and in the community.
While there are many opportunities in Next Step, the teen girls are given more responsibilities and privileges. These responsibilities range from household chores, preparing their own meals, researching career options, exploring higher education, managing finances, and leadership opportunities. Next Step is a time for teen girls to learn real-life skills that will help them be successful long after their stay at Shepherd’s Hill Academy.
The girls are also given more entertainment privileges such as appropriate TV programs, movies, music, video games, and the privilege of being alone in their own rooms. These additional freedoms give girls the opportunity to apply the wisdom and discernment they have learned thus far at Shepherd’s Hill Academy.
The Next Step Program provides therapeutic activities different from the Outdoor Program. However, the therapeutic model upholds the same values, principles, and authoritative community structure of the Outdoor Program. It is a Christ-centered and biblically-based approach.
The Next Step Program provides residents with a real life learning environment. The environment specifically challenges residents by giving them more freedoms such as jobs, time alone, and access to appropriate media. By giving the girls these privileges, they are able to build on the character they developed while in the Outdoor Program.
The girls are given the opportunity to develop secure and healthy relationships with the Next Step counseling staff. It also offers more contemplative time for developing a deeper intimacy with God. During the Next Step Program, the girls are also given more opportunities to have family activities, visits, and Equine Therapy sessions.