During the COVID-19 pandemic without access to some of the activities of the usually busy schedule, the team at PATHS have had to find some creative ways to engage kids in treatment. For example, they recently up-cycled plastic water bottles into lava lamps. Groovy!! But, how do activities like this play a part in residential treatment for young males who have acted out sexually? In actuality, it is activities like this that set the tone for the milieu at PATHS, and it is this milieu that sets PATHS apart from other lower levels of care.
PATHS offers the whole package. Youth are actively engaged in therapy and learning about himself every minute of the day—not just in a session. Even if he thinks he’s “playing”, little does he know that every part of his day is contributing to his progress: the chores, dinner conversations, packing his school backpack (in healthier times), and yes, even building a lava lamp. These are lifelong skills: forming a daily routine, self-care, hygiene, mindfulness, effective communication, and so on. But for some youth these create challenges.
Treatment isn’t about the absence of struggle—that’s not life. It’s about struggling well. Do you step into the struggle or try to slide around it? Most youth will try, fail, learn, try again (and maybe again and again), and then achieve. Through this, he begins to feel competent. Competency is a feeling he may have never felt before, yet a feeling that is quite necessary to his emotional health, growth, and future success. Stepping in and meeting the challenge is how we grow. This is the essence of PATHS.