Dr. Bruno Bettelheim, a founding father of residential treatment for emotionally disturbed children, wrote, “Children don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Treatment at Bonnie Brae is primarily based upon forming positive relationships between traumatized children and caring, knowledgeable professional staff. Our staff are trained to utilize every hour of every day to replace learned destructive behavior with new positive skills. Whether in school, in the arts, or on the playing fields, negative self-image is replaced with a new feeling of pride and increased self-worth.
Bonnie Brae’s successful track record of turning around “kids no one else wants” is based on a foundation of richly experienced professionals including: Child Care Workers; Clinicians; Nurses; Child Psychiatrists; Pediatricians; Support Staff; Substance Abuse Counselors; and Teachers.
Bonnie Brae’s specific “strengths-based” approach undergirds every aspect of campus life, and informs each specific clinical modality practiced here. While we understand our boys’ troubled past, we focus rather on their strengths and their futures. For instance, Kitrell became a star on our track team and overcame his inability to deal with anger; through art and employment, Josh found an alternative to using drugs.
The Boys arrive at Bonnie Brae with specific presenting issues—such as those stemming from emotional, addictions or sexual abuse—and a case plan for healing behaviors associated with these issues. Clinical Staff licensed to deal with these specific issues facilitate individual, group and family therapy, and act as liaisons between residents and family members, Bonnie Brae staff, law enforcement and other social service agencies.
Our clinical staff also strives to decrease the amount of psychotropic medicine taken by the boys whenever possible. Through the comprehensive care afforded in our residential setting, 70% of our residents either stop or dramatically decrease medication even as 91% of them graduate successfully!
The Bonnie Brae emblem is an image of family joining hands in a circle. The emblem embodies our “family-systems” therapeutic approach: we understand that to heal a boy is to help a family, and conversely, that if we help a family with their son, we’ll have a much better chance of healing the boy. On any given weekend our clinical staff coordinates visitations, recreational activities for families or group counseling sessions for about 20 family members who come to our campus from all over the state.
Bonnie Brae’s Clinical Department is an educational facility for several area schools of social work. Students from Rutgers, Lafayette, Seton Hall, Fairleigh Dickinson and other area universities regularly gain internships at Bonnie Brae and contribute to the community in a variety of ways, including research and statistical analysis for outcomes measurement.