Game Changer, Parent Testimonial

Lake House was a game changer for our family. Our journey prior to arrival had been psych hospital, wilderness, a different TBS, attempt at home, failure at home, wilderness reboot, and then Lake House. Landing at LHA and allowing our daughter to have the time and support to build trust in the LHA community so that she could start to work on herself and with our family was the key to our familial growth and success. It was a long and slow road, and we had to be patient because true change is not a fast process. It is especially not fast for a young, developing, neurodiverse brain only just beginning to understand abstract thought and the concept of self.

Unlike our previous TBS experience, we felt that Lake House truly met our daughter where she was and tried to support her growth from there. It is not a one-size-fits-all kind of place, and they recognize the unique differences and needs of each child. No place is perfect. There were hiccups and days when things were missed and mistakes were made—but the big-picture care and support were always there.

I always felt that communication was excellent with the therapeutic and residential staff. We always tried to be good partners and gracious about the challenges of this kind of environment. I do believe our partnership approach, versus a ‘client services approach’ made for really successful relationships between our family and team at LHA.

When our daughter arrived, she was in distress, very angry, and unable to have perspective or take accountability for her actions. Over time, with great patience from both us and her care team, she began to build trust in people and open up, and then we got to work. It was a slow ramp-up, and we had to be more patient than I would have liked. The transition from wilderness to TBS can be challenging because the container is quickly expanded. There are often setbacks, and this is hard to take when you just want to see your child and family make progress.

Within 6 months, we saw a marked change. Then, we were able to dig in and really start to break down barriers and work on growth and change. Our daughter spent 16 months total at LHA. By the end, she had frequent trips home, and we were practicing living as a family again. I don’t think any kid loves being at TBS, but particularly because she had a previous terrible experience to compare it to, she understood that it wasn’t so bad. She had an excellent relationship with her therapist. As parents, we had never had anyone understand her as well or as deeply as this therapist. There is something very special about the interaction of the students, staff, and therapists on a day-to-day basis in the residential building where they eat, live, and do everything but school classes. That daily interactivity leads to relationship building and, I believe, is a big driver behind why a residential program allows a provider to get ‘under the hood’ versus seeing a provider only in their office once a week. It’s a completely different dynamic and more intimate. It allows for a natural collision of people in a community on a regular basis, and this allows for repetition and trust building.

Our daughter recently returned home after being gone at various programs for almost 3 years. The first time she came home from TBS, I was really nervous about how we and she would function. This time, I wasn’t scared at all. She is doing great. She’s headed back to her beloved summer camp this year and a typical boarding school in the fall (her choice to board). She is thriving, and we couldn’t be more grateful. Having her home feels normal. She’s not back to what she was; she’s a new version of herself—one that she likes very much and one with whom we can communicate successfully and navigate hard conversations and difficult feelings (with both parents and siblings) better than I ever could have imagined.

Entering into this therapeutic world is daunting. I’d encourage parents to ask for references from the admissions office and speak to other families who are on a similar journey. Our daughter felt strongly about privacy within our home community and being in charge of her narrative, and we respected that. But, we also found ways to find community online and through other families. This provided valuable learning for us. Lastly, I had to really understand and embrace the idea that I had done nothing ‘wrong,’ and yet our family system was still broken—for no discernible reason. That meant that I had to make a lot of changes in myself, even though it took me a long time to understand why I needed to, what they were, and how that would benefit my child. Read the books, do the work, learn about the unique challenges of your kid, and know that one person can change the entire dynamic of a relationship. Your work is just as important as hers for creating new patterns.