Shelterwood students receive the best in innovative therapies as they journey towards restoration. Among our many treatments, students have access to the life-transforming Brain Balance program, located right here on our campus. This holistic approach to increasing brain function helps students reach new heights.
“We like to use an iceberg as a visual for the Brain Balance process,” explains Elisabeth (Lis) Klemme, Shelterwood’s Brain Balance Program Director. “Symptoms are above the water and the function of the brain is below the water. Other protocols treat the symptoms, but Brain Balance gets to the root of brain function.”
The brain has two distinct hemispheres — right and left — and these hemispheres are unique in what they do and how they connect. Brain Balance, therefore, is designed to isolate the stronger hemisphere of the brain and increase function in the brain’s weaker hemisphere.
While other programs may teach coping mechanisms and strategies to mitigate symptoms, Brain Balance addresses neurological gaps. “Brain Balance helps make the brain teachable, so students can better learn,” Lis explains. Shelterwood is the only therapeutic boarding school with Brain Balance right on campus.
Often, students arrive at Shelterwood with a gap between their biological age and the brain’s age of maturity. A student may be 17 years old, but with a brain function at age 11, so the student may struggle to handle situations as someone his or her age should. A number of factors combine to help the brain mature, Lis explains. For example, do students have primitive reflexes? Are gross motor skills at a place they should be for the student’s age? How about sensory items? Brain Balance addresses all of these and more.
Brain Balance is an adjunct program at Shelterwood, so parents must elect to have their student take part in the program — but the Brain Balance assessment is free of charge to all Shelterwood students, and the team reviews findings with parents, so they are well-equipped to decide if the program will benefit their teen.
In Brain Balance, students can progress as much as three to four grade levels academically. The impact of Brain Balance is typically noticed first in the boarding school classroom, but it has deep effects on a student’s emotional intelligence: traits like empathy and interpersonal connection are built too. “Having Brain Balance as part of the Shelterwood program helps students genuinely mature,” Lis says.
Brain Balance sets the stage for more productive and progressive clinical therapy as well. “Therapists have a real understanding of where the teen is at during every stage of their programming, and the therapist can adapt the plan based on the maturity of the child’s mind,” Lis says. Armed with this information, therapists can serve students more effectively.
There are many success stories as a result of Brain Balance. Lis recalls a student who faced a number of challenging triggers with a physical and dangerous response. Brain Balance brought about a night-and-day difference, helping the student respond to her triggers in healthy ways. Today, that student has successfully graduated Shelterwood, graduated high school and enrolled in college. “By the end of Brain Balance, this student was making a plan for her future,” Lis says.