Frequently asked...


Some of the questions about Pathway's treatment program and allegations by critics, and the corresponding responses are outlined below:
(Responses obtained from Pathway Family Center Clinical and Administrative Management)

What is Pathway’s Treatment Philosophy?

Pathway Family Center’s treatment philosophy is to help adolescents and their families achieve the insight, motivation and tools that lead to a life of recovery.  Pathway provides a professional environment that fosters therapeutic insight, education, support, accountability, real life consequences, as well as compassion and commitment.  This enables each family member to achieve positive growth and change.

Our Beliefs:
1.We believe in the power of our therapeutic community; people helping people.   Being part of a greater good is key for making positive life long changes.  The agent of change is the group itself.  Our adolescents and family members play a significant role in the lives of others in our community, while healing themselves; kids helping kids, parents helping parents and families helping families.  These members act as positive role models for others to emulate.  As a therapeutic community the whole person is treated and not just the addiction.  Insight and positive change is gained through group and individual interaction.  Intrinsic change takes place after the client and family members have practiced new skills and have experienced success, failure and the natural and logical consequences that follow.
2.We believe addiction is a disease that can be treated, but not cured.  We believe that to be successful at treating this disease a person must engage in a personal recovery program that is abstinence based and encompasses the healing of the physical, emotional and spiritual self. 
3.We believe that chemical dependency is a family disease that impacts every member of the family.  To be successful, the family must learn how they are impacted by the disease and learn tools to combat this chronic condition.   At Pathway, we teach the parents how to parent an addicted child in recovery and relapse.  The parent learns techniques and strategies to handle the characteristics that come along with addiction.
4.We believe in the 12 steps of AA/NA and alanon.  We believe that adolescents need to understand and apply the 12 steps on a daily basis.  It is imperative that each family member has the ability to utilize the 12 steps and serenity prayer as a coping strategy and by doing so works an individual program within the family unit.
5. We believe in the importance of self-respect and discipline.  Each level of progression at Pathway provides opportunities for the child and family to experience life in recovery while having the time to practice new skills, fail at them, learn from mistakes and then gain new insight.  Pathway fosters an environment of encouragement and hope that brings the desire to recapture the family values and dreams that have been stolen through the adolescent’s drug addiction.


What is the Pathway Family Center treatment method?

Pathway Family Center helps teenagers with chemical dependency and their families.  Many of our client families have tried and failed using other treatment approaches. Many of the kids are failing in major life areas such as family, school, trouble with the law, and peer relationships.  For most, there is a danger that they will run away or continue using drugs or alcohol without a strong intervention.

As such, we take a firm approach. Clients are highly restricted at the beginning of their treatment and earn more freedom and privileges through positive behavioral changes. The program is very structured and expectations are communicated clearly to the teenagers and their families. We are protective and fair but strict.  Pathway treats adolescents who are resistant to treatment and many have had at least one past treatment failure.  They are experiencing trouble in major life areas such as family, school and/or law .   We are successful at reaching our adolescents because we have a unique team of Doctors and Master level therapists, who specialize in adolescents and addiction.  These professionals work side by side with Peer Staff (graduates of our program) who have experienced both the devastating effects of chemical dependency and the joys of recovery.  

The well rounded staff at Pathway realizes that to be effective, we must reach each adolescent at the stage where he/she is.  Therefore, the treatment plans focus on the strengths, needs, abilities and preferences of each client.  This individualized treatment coupled with group therapy and education provide an optimal environment for the most resistant client to make life long changes and learn to live life in recovery.  Pathway has a strong belief in family.  Therefore, while the adolescents are engaged in our day treatment program, parents are attending group therapy and educational sessions to enable them to learn, practice new skills and obtain support from parents further along in the treatment process.  Parents acquire invaluable tools while their child is treated at Pathway. 

Pathway is a program for families who have had repeated negative episodes with a teen and have been unsuccessful in stopping the substance abuse through less restrictive programs. Results are best with teenagers who are treatment resistant and parents who are willing to participate in their recovery by learning how to parent an at-risk child. The result is worth the effort, as the vast majority of parents and teens who graduate from Pathway once again enjoy and give testimony to the positive benefits of family life. 


How are the clients treated during their treatment?

The adolescents are treated with respect and dignity.  The staff at Pathway understands that especially at first, the adolescent is making an enormous adjustment.  The young person is in the habit of disregarding parental rules and making high risk choices on a daily basis.  When they enter Pathway, they are expected to comply with rules as they begin to examine the negative consequences of their drug use and related behaviors.  To ensure safety and support, Pathway has in place many rules and guidelines.  We also have a system set up so that the newly admitted client is introduced to a buddy who is much more familiar with the program and that client acts as a mentor to the newly admitted client.  The clients are assigned to a therapist and are seen on a weekly basis.  The staff treats the clients like capable individuals who can make positive changes.  Some of the kids come to Pathway with other disorders such as depression, bi-polar, ADHD, eating disorders and many others.  Our staff provides effective therapy to these kids through individual and family sessions as well as specialty groups.

The Pathway staff treats kids with compassion and understanding, and we are firm with them. It’s a strict environment. There are rules, but no one is physically uncomfortable. The program helps teenagers explore their personal issues, such as depression, anger, or low self-esteem. These are the underlying reasons for the substance abuse.  Dealing with these issues may cause clients to feel emotionally uncomfortable until they develop more positive ways of thinking.

Clients enjoy balanced, nutritional meals each day, physical exercise daily on state-of-the-art fitness equipment (weight machine, treadmills, stair-steppers, etc) , play basketball, foursquare, and other games, participate in weekly art-therapy sessions for creative expression, and interact weekly with Holly, the therapy dog from Love-On-A-Leash.  In addition to recovery work, clients enjoy movies on a big-screen projection system at Pathway and also at home, and watch television and read newspapers to discuss current events.


Is the Pathway Family Center program based on the Straight treatment model?
What is Pathway’s relationship to the Straight program?

A group of graduate families of the Michigan Straight program founded Pathway Family Center after Straight closed in 1993. They took a program model developed by Dr. George Ross, a noted leader in the field of teenage substance abuse, a licensed psychologist and certified chemical dependency counselor, and the positive elements of the Straight Program to develop a "next generation" treatment model based on the most current knowledge and research of adolescent substance abuse experts. We did not duplicate the Straight Program, but we did retain program elements that were proven to help teenage clients. We eliminated the use of corporal punishment, reduced the ratio of peer counselors to professional staff, and identified clear requirements for teens admission to the program to ensure those who were not appropriate for our program were placed in a less restrictive level of care.


What is the relationship between Kids Helping Kids and Pathway?

In 2006, Pathway Family Center acquired Kids Helping Kids and began the process of integrating best practices of the two agencies. 


What does Pathway say about criticisms from other organizations or former clients?

We have created a program and an environment that is safe and healthy for every child and family. We encourage our staff, clients, and their families to let us know if they have an issue with our organization. We have a formal and confidential process for them to do so. Any concern with Pathway is taken seriously and investigated.

We also recognize that we will always have a group of former clients who will continue to be troubled, some of whom continue to have substance abuse and/or mental health problems; that is a given when working with teens who abuse illegal substances.  Their perception of their experience at Pathway may not be objective or accurate.

We believe that many of Pathway's more vocal critics are not Pathway graduates, but are former Straight clients.  Given the thousands of kids who were treated as part of the Straight program, certainly there are some who may have had a bad experience; some may even still be using drugs and alcohol.  While their complaints are really with the Straight program, Pathway is an easy target for their anger and bitterness.

A lot has been learned about substance abuse treatment in the last 20 years and Pathway is constantly adopting new and improved techniques. That’s why we track outcomes and go through an accreditation process. We continuously evaluate our program and incorporate process improvements and evidenced based practices.



Are you aware of any suicides/ attempted suicides/ long term problems kids have from the program?

Suicide among adolescents is the third cause of death after accidents and homicide.  For college aged young adults it is the second cause of death, with accidents being the first cause and homicide is the third cause.  When adolescents are harmfully involved with alcohol and other drugs, sadly, the chance of suicide is higher.  Obviously, we have a national problem with young people and suicide.  Pathway has been an excellent intervention for troubled teens.  Many of our graduates express great gratitude as they look back on their lives and realize that without treatment at Pathway, they may not be alive today. 


How is the Pathway Family Center different from other treatment programs?

Pathway is different because we have trained professionals implementing a program that is family focused.  When a child is chemically dependent, the entire family is impacted by this disease.  Therefore, while the adolescent is receiving treatment, the parents and siblings are learning coping strategies and other tools to promote functionality in the family.  We provide long term treatment and families hosting other families to allow for practice and re-establishment of the core family values.  This alternative housing allows the adolescent to be in a home setting with parents who have similar situations and goals as opposed to a hospital setting.

Pathway is effective because we have groups of adolescents at different levels of recovery.  The young people who have established a personal recovery program lend their wisdom, insight and encouragement to the other kids struggling to make changes.  This environment is unique to Pathway.  Our staff consists of licensed therapists and other specially-trained professionals who are certified in the field of adolescent addiction.  Our treatment model, designed specifically for adolescents, is based on the most current knowledge in adolescent substance abuse, combining the latest in psychological, medical, and behavioral care. Our family-centered program has helped thousands of teens reconnect their lives.


What measures are in place to ensure there are no abusive practices at Pathway Family Center?

Pathway does not allow corporal or degrading punishment. All clients are to be treated with respect and dignity. Any deviation from this policy by our staff would result in punitive action up to but not excluding termination.  Conflict resolution and de-escalation of the situation are always used before non-violent restraint. Non-violent restraint is used only by trained and qualified staff in emergency or crisis situations where a client was harming themselves or others. Then, the least restrictive method of restraint necessary to protect the client and others would be used. Chemical and manual restraints are prohibited. All direct service personnel receive ongoing training on Pathway’s policy and practices for non-violent restraint.

Clients are never isolated at Pathway.  If a young person must be removed from group, a Staff member would stay with them at all times.  All instances of non-violent restraint or a client being removed from group are documented in an incident report. The program director or designee must review and sign the report.  A staff debriefing is held within 24 hours if a non-violent restraint is used.  Parents are notified of the incident immediately.

In conclusion, Pathway Family Center provides a professional and effective therapeutic community evidenced by our quarterly Parent and Client Satisfaction surveys, Exit Interviews with all families upon discharge, and countless testimonials from parents and clients.  Pathway is unique because we have trained professionals implementing a program that is family focused. We encourage you to talk with our Clinical Leaders for more information on the model and treatment practices.  We also encourage you to speak to one of the thousands of families that have graduated and hear their testimony to the positive benefits of their restored family life. 



The program seems very restrictive in terms of dress code, grooming, and access to personal items.
What is the rationale for this?

The rationale is similar to that of a school that requires uniforms.  We have a simple dress code that includes khaki pants, plain shirts (no writing on them) during the week and on two days of the week, the kids wear collared shirts.  This eliminates the competition for who has the latest and greatest designer wear, and allows for increased concentration in group.  It is also set up so that kids begin to accept themselves without all the images.  For the first time in a long time, kids realize that they have value for who they are and not how they look.

There is a great deal of safety in structure.  Most of the kids treated at Pathway have difficulty with rules and accountability when they first arrive; they must re-learn how to have respect for themselves and others.  Required culturally appropriate dress and grooming take the competitiveness and shock-value out of these two decisions, decisions that are often poorly made by substance abusing teenagers.  And, personal items such as cell phones, computers, iPods and CD players are prohibited until the client has learned to sift the negative messages that are often found in the public domain.  The restrictions in the initial stages of the program provide clients with a sense of security and predictability as they learn to take care of themselves without the crutch of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.  The program becomes less restrictive as clients progress, allowing them to practice good decision-making skills and behaviors that are respectful and appreciative.


Is it true that clients are not allowed to wear shoes?

Clients wear shoes at all times.


Is it true that clients are locked in their bedrooms at night? Isn’t this unsafe?

Clients are not locked in their bedrooms. They do have motion sensing alarms on the windows and doors to alert parents in the event a client leaves without permission.


What is Dime Therapy?  Is it a technique used at Pathway Family Center?

It is a tool that clients use when they want support at home after treatment hours.  Clients call other clients for insight and support.  Clients get in the practice of reaching out to others when they are struggling.  Graduates report that this tool is of great value.


How does Pathway ensure the safety of the children it treats?

Pathway has several mechanisms in place to ensure the safety of its clients. Prior to beginning treatment, clients receive a recipient rights brochure outlining their legal rights and how to report a concern to the appropriate government oversight body in their State.  Contact information includes names and phone numbers. This same notice is posted in the group room.

Parents, clients, and staff are also informed of Pathway’s formal and informal dispute resolution process. If they have a problem, they can choose to address concerns using the informal process that involves Pathway's chain of command. They can also use the more formal and confidential process of going directly to the Program Director. Any client or parent can schedule a meeting with anyone at Pathway upon request.


Are patients ever prohibited from speaking privately to their parents about the program while they
are being treated at Pathway Family Center?

During the first level of treatment, there is a temporary respite to give parents a break from the chaos they have experienced with their teen.  However, the parent and client may speak at any time upon request.  They also attend family sessions after 30 days or sooner.  When the client reaches the second level of treatment, the adolescent has open communication with their parents and lives in their home.  Pathway clients progress through six treatment levels.  During the first level of treatment, clients focus on themselves and are connecting to the other peers in the program.  On second level, clients and family members work at re-establishing a productive family relationship.  Third level kids focus on working on school or work.  Fourth level clients establish themselves in the treatment community by attending AA/NA meetings.  Fifth level is a time to plan for graduation and aftercare.  Sixth level is aftercare.


What training, experience, and educational degrees are required of counselors?

All therapists are required to be licensed with at least a Masters degree.

 
What is “peer” staff? How is “peer” staff used versus professional staff? What is the ratio?

Peer staff members are graduates of our program who serve as positive role models for our clients.  They share how they use the 12 steps and offer support to help our clients overcome the hardships and struggles of recovery. They also share in the joy of recovery. Peer staff members interact with clients on a daily basis.  We strive for one Peer Staff for every ten clients.  One of the components that make our program so effective is that we team up Professional Staff (Masters Level Professionals) with Peer Staff (graduates of our program).  This combination allows our families to get both the professional and personal perspectives on recovery.

Any claims that Pathway demeans its clients are untrue.

Pathway treats adolescents who are resistant to treatment.  The program is very structured and expectations are communicated clearly to the teenagers and their families.  When they enter Pathway, they are expected to comply with rules as they begin to examine the negative consequences of their drug use and related behaviors.  To ensure safety and support, Pathway has rules and guidelines in place.  The adolescents are always treated with respect and dignity. 


What is the role of the host/foster families?

The allegations of serious abuse related to our host home component is untrue.  Safety in our host homes is of utmost importance to Pathway Family Center.  Our policies and procedures are designed to keep teens safe in our environment.  An allegation was investigated by Pathway, CARF and the State of Michigan and was determined to be unfounded.  Pathway meets national accreditation standards with CARF and are regulated by the State of Michigan.  Our accreditation with CARF is a testament to our commitment to person-centered, quality services.  The agency was given an exemplary rating for our host home component.  CARF surveyors stated that the host home component “received absolute endorsement from persons served and interviewed during the site survey.”


Facts about the host home:

We provide long term treatment and families hosting other families to allow for practice and re-establishment of the core family values.  This alternative housing allows the adolescent to be in a home setting with parents who have similar situations and goals as opposed to a hospital setting.  Our protocol includes on-going parent education and therapy, criminal background check, inspection and house preparedness.   This includes removal of any items that can be harmful to the clients in the host home.  Periodic staff visits to the host homes ensure continuous safety in the host home.  Safety precautions, such as doors being alarmed at night to alert the host home parent that the door has been opened, are in place to protect our teens. To mitigate self-harm, bathroom doors remain open several inches, ensuring the young person’s safety while still respecting their privacy at all times.   


Do the host homes need to be licensed?

Pathway has been reviewed by the state of Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana and by its national accrediting body.  Our organization is in full compliance with all state and national requirements. These agencies have confirmed that our host homes do not need to be licensed.   


Why is the program so strict in terms of residency requirements?

It’s a model that works and has proven results.  Clients are placed with families who also have teenagers in the program. The goal in doing this is to keep them safe and secure in an environment similar to the one they will return to when they go home. This strategy offers many benefits. Clients are in an environment where they can’t use drugs or alcohol, and they can relearn how to interact positively in a family environment and to function as part of a healthy family. Family placement is also an opportunity for parents to take a fresh approach and learn successful ways to parent an at risk youth before their teenager returns home.


What is Pathway’s success rate for treating adolescents?

Pathway uses several measures in evaluating its success in working with adolescents and their families.

  • Retention rate: Currently over 80% of families admitted stay more than 90 days and  50% of teens remain with the program and graduate. 
  • Client satisfaction surveys: over 90% of teens in the program report that they like the services they receive, would choose Pathway over other programs, and would recommend the program to others. Over 80% report that they deal more effectively with problems, get along better with family, and that the symptoms of their addiction/dependence are less frequent and intense.
  • Long-term outcomes: An outcomes study was completed in 2001 by Dr. John Franklin, PhD., professor, Addiction Studies at University of Detroit-Mercy. He found that 98% of Pathway graduates didn’t return to prior drug severity, 82% were presently clean and sober, and 49% had no drug use since discharge.  90% reported an improved quality of life. 88% reported improved self esteem and improved relationship with parents. This study is currently being updated.

Drug Strategies, a national research institute promoting effective approaches to the nation’s teen drug problem, recognizes Pathway in its Treating Teens: A Guide to Adolescent Drug Programs, released in 2003. Pathway is highlighted for its comprehensive, integrated, treatment approach, family involvement, and continuing care. Pathway is one of only two programs in Indiana identified as meeting the guide’s criteria for effective teen treatment.


How does Pathway Family Center follow up on patients once they complete the program?
Are there any long term problems as a result of the program?

Pathway performs multiple surveys post treatment:
  • Exit Interview:  All parents are contacted via phone to discuss their experience with Pathway.
  • Outcomes Studies:  Periodic surveys of both parents and youth served are conducted to determine success rate.
  • Aftercare:  Pathway offers a 4 month aftercare program to all families completing treatment. 
  • Friday Night Open Meeting and Group Session:  Pathway offers an Open Meeting, followed by a group session every Friday night.  All alumni teens and their families are invited to participate.
  • Special Events:  Pathway offers various events that give our current and past families and opportunity to connect.  We hold an annual Dinner/Dance, a Summer Slam for Sobriety, and The Magic of Kids Gala. 

We see long term benefits as a result of the program, such as teens completing high school, entering college, staying sober, getting married, being great parents, and having Loving, healthy relationships.


Any claim that some teens admitted to Pathway do not meet the DSM criteria is not true.

Pathway Family Center has been operating for over 15 years and has helped thousands of teens and their families break free from the grips of addiction.  All clients admitted to Pathway meet the DSM-IV criteria for substance abuse or dependence and warrant intensive, long-term treatment.   The adolescent admitted have experienced trouble in major life areas such as family, schools, and/or loss.   We pride ourselves in recommending the correct level of care to teens assessed at Pathway. 

Our Assessment & Referral Service has also been accredited by CARF.  In fact, 7 out of 10 teens assessed at Pathway Family Center are referred to a lower level of care service provider outside of Pathway.  If a young person admitted to Pathway exhibits severe problems after admission, such as a primary psychiatric disorder, we refer the teen to a more appropriate setting.   
 


Is Pathway Family Center for everyone?

No.  This is not a program for everyone, which is why Pathway completes a thorough assessment of each child prior to admitting him or her to the program.  Using a combination of  proven assessment instruments, we evaluate the child's situation and make recommendations as to the appropriate level of care. When a teenager requires a different type or less intensive program we make an appropriate referral to one or several individual practitioners or other agencies that are more closely suited to treating the individual and their problems.  Psychological and Psychiatric evaluation are used to confirm initial assessment results or to redirect families if required.

Pathway is a program for families who have had repeated negative episodes with a teen and have been unsuccessful in stopping the substance abuse through less restrictive programs. Results are best with teenagers who are treatment resistant and parents who are willing to participate in their recovery by learning how to parent an at-risk child. The result is worth the effort as the vast majority of parents and teens who graduate from Pathway once again enjoy the benefits of a healthy family and healthy family relationships. 


What if I have more questions or different questions that have not been answered?

Please contact Pathway's site program director, Barbara Towner (VP of Admissions & Marketing) or Terri Nissley (President and CEO) at 800-261-4605.



What is Pathway Family Center’s treatment philosophy? 
What is Pathway’s treatment method/philosophy?
How are clients treated during their treatment?
What is Pathway’s relationship to the Straight Program?
What is the relationship between Pathway and Kids Helping Kids?
What does Pathway say about criticism from other organizations or former clients?
Are you aware of any long term problems kids have from the program?
How is Pathway Family Center different from other treatment programs?
What measures are in place to ensure no abusive practices?
What is the rationale for the restrictive dress code and grooming?
Is it true clients are not allowed to wear shoes?
Is it true that clients are locked in their bedrooms at night?
What is Dime Therapy? Is it used at Pathway Family Center?
How does Pathway ensure the safety of the clients it treats?
Are patients ever prohibited from speaking privately to their parents about the program while in treatment?
What training, experience and degree are required of counselors?
What is “peer staff”? How is it used versus regular staff? What is the ratio?
Any claims Pathway demeans its clients are untrue.
What is the role of host/foster families?
Facts about host homes
Do the host homes have to be licensed?
Why is the program so strict in terms of residency requirements?
What is Pathway’s success rate for treating adolescents?
Are there any long term problems as a result of the program?
Any claim that some teens admitted to Pathway do not meet the DSM criteria is not true.
Is Pathway Family Center for everyone?
What if I have more questions or different questions that have not been answered?

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