Kansas City Girls Academy is a program for girls who are struggling in life. It is designed to help girls identify problem behaviors and build inner strength to overcome challenges. Effective communication skills are developed and positive coping strategies learned. Kansas City Girls Academy uses a multi-therapeutic model. Discipleship curriculum and ongoing pastoral counseling relative to the curriculum content are utilized to assist the students in discovering their incorrect assumptions and replacing them with new concepts of understanding.
The program is intentionally designed to allow the girls to progress through a level system to help prepare them for a healthy reintroduction into their family. This system includes such practices as positive peer pressure, reward and discipline consequences for actions, increased responsibilities as their progress warrants, and ongoing daily staff interaction.
Specific treatment models include:
Group Therapy – This consists of multiple small group sessions weekly, led by our counselors and staff. These groups include substance abuse, problem-solving, positive peer culture, emotional management, safe dates, and specialty groups designed for specific treatment needs. All group processes foster emotional growth in a safe and confidential setting.
Healthy Meals – Mealtimes feature a family atmosphere where healthy relationships with staff and peers are established. Our kitchen is overseen by dedicated staff members who find joy in watching our students truly enjoy their meals. Also, student leaders have the opportunity to serve in our kitchen to prep home-cooked meals, serve plates and clean up, which are great life skills. Many students leave with the confidence to prepare meals for their entire family, and know how to clean with excellence. Our menus are created with balanced, healthy meals as the goal. Eating three healthy meals a day helps bring consistency and balance to our students’ lives, and our mealtimes compliment the daily routine of our school. For holidays, we take pride in making the meals special. This makes a big difference for what can be a sensitive and emotional time for our students.
Individual Therapy – is provided to each student with a minimum of one session every other week. Sessions help students gain insights into their individual behaviors and establishes a trusting relationship with their counselor. In this setting, students process issues too sensitive for them to share with a group.
Family Therapy – Parents contribute to treatment as an integral part of the program. KCGA Girl Academy encourages families to visit during planned family weekends. Family and students meet with their primary counselor for therapy. Parents and children also participate in parent support groups, parent-teacher conferences, workshops, and graduation ceremonies.
Equine Therapy – Equine therapy is about creating and cultivating a bond between the girl and a horse, not just having fun horseback riding. At its root, horsemanship is all about the girl and horse working together to complete a goal or task. To accomplish this, each girl must learn to be calm, assertive, and communicative. The girl must communicate clearly with her equine partner, using both verbal and nonverbal communication techniques.
The way horses read and react to the girl’s body language is a startlingly accurate method of daily feedback for the girl; if her attitude is not right, the horse will not respond well to her. Only calm assertive communication from the girl will result in the horse beginning to trust and respect her leadership.
During activities with horses, the girls learn alternative ways of responding to a difficult situation rather than reacting. They begin to find hope for their challenging life issues as they ‘experience’ relational changes with their horse and begin to explore their God-created uniqueness and destiny. Horses are powerful and effective in helping people, whether a child, youth or adult. They have much to teach us about our patterns of behavior, communication, and relationships. Horses are excellent “teachers”, coupled with trained facilitators certified in personal and social development, interaction with horses can often provide invaluable assistance in addressing challenging life issues in a fun, action-oriented, non-threatening learning environment.
Discipline at Kansas City Girls Academy is principle-minded and designed to provide a lesson for the girl, not to punish her. We do not participate in any form of corporal punishment, withholding or changing food allowances, nor physical restraint (other than in situations where the child may be an imminent threat to herself or others). Typical disciplinary tactics include the loss of some privileges or the addition of chores, or both.
The staff at KCGA go through yearly training to ensure that they are prepared to deal with all crisis situations. This training equips staff with proven strategies for safely defusing anxious, hostile, or violent behavior at the earliest possible stage. Participants are provided training in defining the stages of crisis in terms of identifiable behavioral levels and appropriate staff responses. Additionally, verbal and non-verbal de-escalation techniques, personal safety principles, and physical control strategies are taught to manage aggressive students in a safe, non-harmful manner while establishing a therapeutic rapport after the crisis. Staff learn decision-making skills to match the level of the response to the risk of the crisis, focusing on the least-restrictive response to ensure the care, welfare, safety, and security of students. This includes recognizing the stages of an escalating crisis and learning evidence-based techniques to appropriately de-escalate.