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An Interview with CMA’s Clinical Supervisor

Kaitlyn Ramsier, the clinical sucma family interviewpervisor at Caribbean Mountain Academy, shares her insights about the program as well as her experience working in the DR for several years.

What drew you to want to work for an international boarding school?

I actually worked in residential Stateside. The international aspect attracted me for a few reasons, including the ability to be outside in all seasons, as I come from the Midwest. The adventures and the landscape that can be experienced year-round [in the DR] creates a beautiful therapeutic environment to grow and experience life in. I think there are great benefits to being a minority in a country and getting a feel of that. I appreciate the ability to become familiar with another culture, language, and terrain.

How long have you been at CMA?

My husband and I have been here for 4 years. We have had 2 children born here and our third is due August 22. We have 2 dogs and have lived in 4 different houses here on campus. This is our family’s home. We have hosted many family members and friends from the States and it is always fun to share our life with them.

What has been the most rewarding experience of your time at CMA?

I first worked in the house with the students. It was always my privilege when they let me into their hurts, dreams, life, and progress in a real way. I was pregnant during my time as a house staff and I loved to see the students warm up and be a part of my pregnancy journey and then hold baby Oliver when he was born. I also loved seeing things click with the student’s personal progress and having one-on-one conversations with them.

As I now work as the clinical manager part-time, I love to see the staff‘s investment in the students. It is inspiring to see the counselors push themselves and grow in their work with families and students. They genuinely love and want to help students and their families, and they do a great job at it.

As a mom and wife I enjoy being a part of this community as a whole. I feel great rewards in being able to help with childcare, making food, or just enjoying social outings with other staff. I love to see my children grow up around the students and other staff children. I feel intense gratitude that God has given our family this time at CMA.

Can you tell us a little about the therapy services at CMA?

At CMA, we offer a highly intensive therapeutic program. We provide weekly individual counseling sessions (1 hour), weekly family sessions (1 hour with student, 30 minutes working specifically with parents), at times we can offer an extra parent-only session for 1 hour, and a weekly group session for students. We also train our staff to use a therapeutic mindset so students are constantly encouraged to make their short time at CMA intentional and meaningful.

Therapy is driven by a belief in the stages of change and cognitive behavioral therapy techniques. Each student has a treatment plan that all staff work from that lays out their personal short term and long term goals. It is crucial that the student is the driving force for any kind of lasting change. We believe that thinking affects your feelings which in turn affects your behaviors, and we want our students to be able to identify each part of any lies they might believe consciously or subconsciously.

The benefit of residential treatment is the ability for the student to be held accountable by a professionally trained team that is working collaboratively at all times. These students here at CMA are brave and determined. They are working alongside their parents with a team of professionals that challenge them and then are able to hold the teens accountable and identify and walk alongside them when their words don’t match their actions.

What initial fears have parents shared with you in regards to pursuing the CMA program, and how have those fears been overcome?
They fear their students will not be taken care of or fear what the program is like. It seems to help when the parent comes down to visit the campus and the staff, whether that’s prior to enrollment or when they drop off their student. We send weekly reports, meet weekly with parents, and try to keep all communication lines open. It is crucial that parents are able to believe in the work their students are doing and be doing their own work from the beginning to prepare for their child’s transition home.

 

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