Wellspring: The History
Wellspring was founded in 1977 by Drs. Richard and Phyllis Beauvais who sought to create a highly structured but intimate treatment approach for people with serious emotional, psychiatric, and behavioral challenges. Their idea was to establish a therapeutic community that would make it possible to work in-depth to bring about significant change.
They envisioned the setting as non-institutional and home-like, where the shared experiences of daily life and relationship – i.e. work, study, play, and sharing meals together – could be joined with therapeutic modalities which would respond to mind, heart, body, and spirit, so that the whole person could be addressed. The Beauvais saw each person as an individual, and worked with them to access their uniqueness of spirit and creativity. Following their belief that being related to the land promoted healing, the Beauvais purchased a tract of farmland with a colonial era farmhouse, barns, pastures, grazing animals and a bucolic landscape.
The first residents in the Beauvais home were young adults who struggled with serious mental health issues. As the Beauvais vision proved to be successful and clients began to heal, Wellspring became a stable home base from which they could expand, yet remain connected, as they became more independent. Eventually, residential and school programs for adolescents and for children were established and the program for adults was moved to its own campus.
Wellspring’s relational approach to healing is an essential component of all programs and provides an integrated approach to treatment for those students who are in the residential and school programs. All of our programs are clinically intense with a variety of modalities available including individual therapy, group therapies, family therapies & training, expressive therapy, art therapy, adventure programming and animal and land based interventions. These clinical interventions are centered by milieu based therapeutic community models where the educational, milieu, and nursing staff are clinically trained and supervised. Importantly, Wellspring has been a pioneer in working relationally with clients and students to engage in a restorative healing process when they have continued trouble in maintaining healthy relationships. The restorative process supports each person in identifying and addressing the issues that are below the surface of their day to day struggles, to make lasting changes in who they are and how they relate to others.
Family involvement is a cornerstone of Wellspring’s relational approach to treatment and education. Without the family’s willingness to learn new skills and make necessary changes in the family system, individuals are unlikely to sustain the gains they work so hard to earn. The willingness on the part of the family requires committed involvement in the treatment and learning process. It demands great love and a profound degree of humility, for it means recognition that each family member may be a part of the problem and that they are clearly an important factor in the solutions.
In all programs, there are four dimensions that make our approach to treatment and education effective and integrated: support for personal identity, an interpersonal environment of emotional validation, the teaching of relational skills, and an emphasis on positive parenting. The uniqueness of Wellspring lies in its commitment to the whole family.
In 1984, Wellspring was the smallest mental health facility in the country to receive accreditation by The Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Hospitals – the standard bearer for such centers nationwide. Accreditation by the Joint Commission continues uninterrupted and Wellspring proudly displays the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Accreditation.
Arch Bridge School: The History
The Arch Bridge School is Wellspring’s private special education school that began in 1990when Wellspring added five adolescent residents to their program. The school evolved quickly over the next several years as the number of younger residents increased and the need for more structured academic services became apparent. To serve the needs of these residents, we built a campus-based therapeutic school and then opened this school to the underserved population of special education and emotionally challenged day students from the larger community. In 1997, the school was approved by the State of Connecticut as a Private Special Education Facility.
It also became apparent that it was important to involve families, and parental involvement became an essential component of all school programs. In the high school and middle school day programs, parent support groups provide instruction and guidance to enhance parenting skills and offer an opportunity to share information and experiences with others.
The Arch Bridge School consists of high school/middle school and elementary programs.* College preparatory courses in the upper school allow our students to meet their academic objectives while continuing to address their life and relational issues. Academics are taught in small groups by subject area certified teachers, and supported by mental health and behavioral specialists. Emphasis is placed on providing a positive learning experience, resolving school related issues, and preparing students to return to their homes and schools better able to function successfully. The therapeutic dimension of the program supports a comprehensive exploration of the student’s individual uniqueness while developing self-reliance, problem solving skills, socialization, and the ability to manage anger and stress. The fundamental approach of the school is the development of a personal relationship with each student, within a clearly defined structure of expectations and consequences. Arch Bridge works closely with each student’s family and community school district in order to make their transition back as easy as possible.
*The Arch Bridge School serves two separate populations –Residential and Day students. Wellspring residences for children and adolescents and the Arch Bridge School are all on our main campus, allowing our resident students to walk to and from school. Day students from surrounding communities come to Arch Bridge on a daily basis, transported round-trip by school via transportation services.