Skills Philosophy.

Teaching & Modeling

To be a flourishing adult in a complex world, teens need skills. They need the kind of abilities that allow them to feel solid with who they are, and to relate to others in productive ways–even in times of challenge or conflict.

Teaching essential skills is a part of what we do on a daily basis. There are moment-to-moment learning opportunities for youth to increase capacities in social development, respectful communication, self-efficacy, and accountability.



Centering skills help our teens regain a sense of self when they are “spinning out.” There are a host of techniques we teach—from simple “taking space” exercises to more elaborate mindfulness techniques such as breathing, meditation, grounding, and yoga. We approach centering from a practical standpoint to help our students develop more personal responsibility and keep their anxiety levels in check.



We teach a host of communication tools—from attentive listening to constructive feedback. Underlying all of them is respect. We model respectful communication. And we give our students, and our families, the experience of “being heard.”

Specifically, this means we don’t judge. We are attentive to what you have to say, consider your suggestions, offer help where needed, and follow through with what we say we’ll do.


Holding boundaries

When teens are upset, holding boundaries is not easy–especially when you’re the target. But we understand how important it is for structure and consistency. For some families, holding boundaries is not natural—so we work gently with families to add this skill into the family system. We model how to hold the “bottom line” so teens can experience their own emotions and learn ways to manage them. Holding boundaries is an essential part of what we do, and we do this with care, and patience.



We see conflict as an opportunity for growth. We teach Non-Violent Communication (NVC) and use restorative justice circles. We also teach individualized conflict resolution skills such as direct feedback, active listening, validation, and use of coping skills.

These efforts allow our students to sort through their emotions and find common ground. We walk students through how to apologize and how to forgive. We equip them with tools they will use for the rest of their lives. And we help families learn these tools as well.