We Work Hand-in-Hand With Teen Boys in Our Immersive and Experiential Program


Due to experiences of overwhelming stress and developmental trauma, many students, at their core, believe the world is an unsafe place. Typically, they experience themselves as alone, inadequate, and socially inept. Because of this developmental trauma, the teens we work with have not developed secure attachments, which has affected their core beliefs about the world and whether or not it’s a safe place.

Our CASA Treatment Model Helps

Many students will approach the world as if they are alone and unafraid, consequently relying only on themselves and shunning relationships.  Some also internalize that they are bad, and believe that is why they’ve been abandoned, neglected, or abused. These beliefs produce shame and within the context of school, they explain their difficulties simply with “I’m dumb.”


We use the Embark Treatment Approach to create change.  With a clinical foundation in the CASA developmental framework, our clinicians use a focus on family systems with tools from TF-CBT, DBT, Brainspotting, and S.M.A.R.T. recovery.  Our goal is to create experiences of co-regulation and to disrupt maladaptive roles, rules, and relationships.  Our clinicians also weave dyadic developmental psychotherapy (DDP) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) into our family systems approach.

Joy Comes from Experiencing Acceptance

Because many of the trauma these children suffered was created in an absence of secure relationships, it can only be healed in secure relationships.  At Embark at The Forge, we summarize our relationally based treatment model as CASA, which stands for Commitment, Acceptance, Security, Attunement. The goal of the model is Joy, experienced through co-regulation.


Joy comes from experiencing acceptance, security, and attunement in a committed home (CASA).


We begin with Commitment on the caregivers’ part.  For us, that is the parent, guardian, or primary attachment figure which commits to sending their child to us and commits to working with us in the goal of reuniting at treatments end. It begins also with our commitment as caregivers to treat the child, to go the distance, as we say here.

That Commitment needs to be coupled with Acceptance. Acceptance by the parent and by us, as caregivers, can be a complicated process, but at its fundamental level, it is a recognition that developmental trauma and attachment insecurity is driving the child’s behavior, not attitudes, laziness, or narcissism.


We must accept that it is not a matter of trying harder for our kids, but of experiencing how to trust others and ultimately themselves. Our kids are inherently valuable. We need to see them as always doing their best.


Once our kids feel accepted, they can then begin to feel secure and safe, both physically and emotionally. The caregiver and child’s relationship needs to be a secure relationship.  Security is defined by predictability, consistency, reliability, regulation, and empathy along with established boundaries and clear limit setting.