What are the keys to success at New Lifestyles? This complex question does not have a completely clear answer. There are, however, many factors that contribute to greater success. Perhaps most important is the level of parental alignment. The degree to which parents are willing to alter their family roles, boundaries, and expectations, and support New Lifestyles therapeutic interventions, greatly impacts outcome. Also important is student motivation. Students who have had a history of alcohol and/or drug abuse progress more rapidly if they are committed to self-improvement and sobriety than those who are ambivalent or resistant to change.
How does New Lifestyles measure success? We evaluate our program and student progress both objectively and subjectively. Upon admission, students are administered a survey assessing 10 different areas. Students complete the survey again upon leaving the program and several months following discharge. Results, although preliminary, are presented in the graph entitled Student Survey Results. As is depicted in the graph, students generally report progress from admission, to discharge, to post-discharge in all 10 measured areas.
In addition to surveys, students are assessed on an ongoing basis with instruments that measure current depression, perceived problems, well-being, risky-behavior, and overall functioning. Results are shared with the students and integrated into quarterly treatment planning.
What happens after New Lifestyles? The answer depends on several questions,and is related to length of stay and commitment to self-improvement. The average length of stay at New Lifestyles is 12 months. Individuals seeking shorter-term (30, 60, or 90 day) treatment are advised to research other programs. Since our program deals with a complex array of longstanding issues, longer and more intense interventions are necessary.
The pie charts on the right depict the percentage of individuals in each of several living conditions after New Lifestyles. Each chart shows the outcome for only those individuals whose length of stay falls into one of five categories: 3 months or less; greater than 3 months through 6 months; greater than 6 months through 9 months; greater than 9 months through 12 months; and, greater than 12 months.
Individuals who leave the program prematurely and against advice tend to demonstrate less independence than those who stay to graduation (or 12+ months). In fact, as the 3 Months or Less chart indicates, the majority of students who leave early return home and live dependently. This situation is represented by the blue area of the chart.
A sizable portion of students who leave prematurely do so to enroll in another program. This decision occurs for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it becomes evident that New Lifestyles is not the appropriate environment, and an alternative environment would be best suited to address the individual's challenges. Examples would include continued relapse on substances or significant regression to eating-disorder symptomology or self-injurious behavior. The chances of a student being "mismatched" can be reduced if both parents and the student are willing to follow their educational consultant or New Lifestyles recommendations prior to enrolling. For example, a wilderness therapy or rehab program might have been recommended as a first-step to treatment, only to have been rejected by the student and/or his/her parents. Students who leave New Lifestyles for another program are represented by the red portion of the chart.
While New Lifestyles very rarely recommends students return to their parents' home following treatment, some do, at least for a period of time, and function more independently than they had previously, by either attending college, working, or both. This scenario is represented by the green portion of the chart.
Students who stay at New Lifestyles longer tend to demonstrate more independence and are more likely to live independently, most typically attending college, working, or both. This situation is represented by the purple area of the chart. Notice that the purple area of the chart grows in size as length of stay increases.
When independent living is used as an outcome variable, the New Lifestyles program demonstrates very good rates of success. While only 9% of students who stay 3 months or less discharge into an independent living situation, 74% of students who stay over 12 months discharge into an independent living situation.
New Lifestyles measures success in other ways as well. Several symptoms are examined at various points throughout a student's tenure. Most students, regardless of whether they have a Mood or Anxiety Disorder diagnosis, experience uncomfortable symptoms of depression, anxiety, or both. Our research shows a significant decrease in depression and anxiety following participation in our program. The graph entitled Depression at Intake vs. Discharge (click on the image to enlarge it) shows that depression decreases from, on average, the moderate to marked range at intake to the non-significant range at discharge. The graph entitled Anxiety at Intake vs. Discharge (click on the image to enlarge it) shows that anxiety decreases significantly from intake to discharge. As noted on individual images, these changes are statistically significant.
These results are important since many students enter New Lifestyles with symptoms of depression and anxiety manifesting as a lack of self confidence and avoidance of typical emerging adult life tasks such as attending college, working or living independently.
New Lifestyles experiential approach instills feelings of competence and capability in individuals through graduated successes across various life skills domains, especially academic or career oriented endeavors. As our results demonstrate, students experience success, feel less depressed and anxious, and are motivated to cope and perform previously avoided life tasks. Learning through experience, they overcome feelings of inferiority and lack of capability and confidently approach and complete the challenges necessary for achieving their true potential.
Another area that data analysis reveals clinically significant change is social functioning. Note the improvement depicted in the graph; Problems in Social Functioning at Intake and Discharge. Many students enter New Lifestyles with a history of social difficulties due to a variety of reasons. Some lack social skills relative to their peers while others may possess social skills, but exhibit entitlement and/or disregard for the feelings of others. Common symptoms of depression, anxiety, or even rigidity can also create difficulties in the maintenance of meaningful and reciprocal social relationships. Regardless of the cause, a high percentage of New Lifestyles students share a common history of poor interpersonal functioning. As the graph shows, problems with social functioning decrease significantly over the course of treatment. Students at New Lifestyles are taught age-appropriate social skills and practice these skills in an immersive environment where they have constant opportunities for both social interaction and feedback regarding their social interaction.