FEAT – Not Just Another Acronym
By Melissa Andrews, Recreation Therapy Specialist & Family Facilitator
One of the most difficult times in the life of a family can be making the decision whether or not to admit their child into a residential treatment program. Once the decision is made, both youth and family can begin the journey towards health and restoration.
As that journey begins, families can see a glimmer of hope but know it’s a long road ahead requiring hard work and dedication through family and individual therapy, parenting groups, and more.
Any therapy is hard work, but family therapy can be especially challenging. I observed the sometimes defeated look on the faces of family members when leaving a family therapy session and it sparked an idea. What if we gave the family a break by setting aside time for the family to have a fun day together, an opportunity to make new memories and remember what it feels like to have unscripted, stress-free family time while engaging in fun, positive activities?
That is how the idea of FEAT (Families Engaging Actively Together) was conceived.
In 2018 Camino a Casa launched the FEAT program and it was an immediate success. We put together a variety of activities including: picnics, beach days, hikes, cooking groups, kayaking, yoga sessions and much more, all done together, as a family. On a typical FEAT day, we start out by having families introduce one another, including siblings, grandparents, and other family members they’ve invited, we then move on to the activity (or activities) of the day. At lunch we enjoy a family meal together and then return to the activity. We end the day by sharing our favorite or most meaningful memory of the time spent together.
Throughout the course of any particular FEAT day, you can see tensions ease and truly witness healing taking place. In fact, one of our first FEAT activities was a hike on the Ray Miller trail in Malibu and we came upon a sign that read, “Healing in Progress.” We all laughed at the irony and nodded in agreement with the words on the sign. It was as if that trail knew we were coming and that the families needed encouragement and validation. We all received both.
It’s wonderful to witness families enjoying one another again, while others learn for the first time the simple, pure joy of spending a day together.
In the world of fitness, every effective strength training program incorporates rest days into the schedule. You actually have to break muscle down to build it back up, and in that process it becomes stronger. The build back stronger process for families happens during rest. FEAT days help to provide much needed “rest and recovery” and allows the family to build back stronger, better equipped to take on the continued work necessary for improved health and restoration.
We take a family-centered approach at Camino a Casa to achieve our goal of restoring the health of our client as well as the family. FEAT provides an opportunity for families to rest, reflect, and renew, so they can continue working towards their treatment goals.
For more information on the FEAT program or the Camino a Casa program, please contact admissions at (805) 366-4000.