Our Philosophies

Centerstone’s noble purpose is to deliver care that changes people’s lives. In our pursuit of this mission, we employ several philosophies of care. As treatment needs for adults and children can and do vary, we have adopted the following care philosophies for our Therapeutic Foster Care:


Integrated Care for the Whole-Child

We instinctively know that we cannot simply address symptoms of a problem and expect to see that problem disappear (or even do more than slightly and temporarily improve). An in-depth investigation into all of the contributing factors is necessary if there is to be true healing. At Centerstone, we understand that simply aiming to control a child’s behavior is not the answer. Our caring staff of foster families, coaches and clinicians help families take a deeper look at the reasons behind the behaviors as well as evaluating the environmental factors that may be hindering progress.

Integrated care is the ability to not only improvet mental and behavioral health but to attend to a child’s physical health and well-being as well. Factors such as quality of sleep, diet, exercise and physical conditions are evaluated and addressed. Alternatives to bad habits are taught so that the child and family can begin taking back control of their lives. This integrated approach marries behavioral and mental health care and allows families to get a clearer picture of how they can more effectively progress on the road to recovery.

So what does Centerstone’s Integrated Therapeutic Foster Care system define as well-being? While there are many ways to define well-being, Centerstone’s Therapeutic Foster Care program includes the following in its well-being approach. These include physical, psychological, eduational, social and spiritual well-being.

The implementation of an integrated way of working with children and youth requires three guiding approaches. Each approach helps define the areas of a young person’s life. Centerstone’s guiding approaches include the Circle of Courage, the Principles of Re-Education and the Recovery Model.

The Principles of Re-Education

  1. Life is to be lived now, not in the past, and lived in the future only as a present challenge.
    We really don’t look backward and we don’t retreat. We start with the assumption that each day is of great importance to young people and should be used for teaching and learning! In Re-ED, no one waits for a special therapeutic hour. We try, as best we can, to make each and every hour special and beneficial to the child.
  2. Trust between child and adult is essential.
    Trust is the very foundation to the therapeutic relationship. When there is trust, the adult has gained the ability to help the child. Without trust, there is a disconnection between child and adult. The first step in the Re-Education process is to help the young person make a new and very important distinction that adults can be counted on as predictable sources of support, understanding and affection. The teacher-counselor, case manager, foster care parent, therapist and anyone else who is having an impact on the child’ life must work to gain trust. Being consistent, predictable and dependable are critical tools used to create trust. No amount of professional training can make an adult worthy of the trust of a child or capable of generating it.
  3. Competence makes a difference and children and adolescents should be helped to be good at something, and especially at schoolwork.
    School is the center of a child’s life and that is the natural fulcrum for efforts to help children in trouble. When we help youth to be successful at school, we have helped them a long ways toward overcoming their so-called “mental health problems.” However, in helping a young person to be good at something (cooking, repairing, painting, drawing, etc.) we help improve their self-confidence and self-trust that they can actually be somebody of significance!
  4. Time is an ally, working on the side of growth in a period of development when life has a tremendous forward thrust.
    A broken bone knits more rapidly at six and sixteen than at sixty; we assume a comparable vitality in the psychological domain. Re-Education may simply speed up a process that would occur in an unknown percentage of children anyway. A long stay in a treatment center may actually slow down the process of learning to be oneself. We try at least to avoid getting in the way of the normal restorative processes of life.
  5. Self-control can be taught and children and adolescents helped to manage their behavior without the development of psychodynamic insight.
    Children and adolescents get rejected in large part because of identifiable behaviors that are regarded as unacceptable by family, friends, school or community. A first step in this process is to help them unlearn particular habits that keep high the probability that they will be rejected by people whose support they must have if they are to grow.
  6. Intelligence can be taught. Intelligence is a dynamic, evolving, and malleable capacity for making good choices in living.
    Children and adolescents coming into a Re-ED program frequently have deficits in both concepts and in problem-solving ability. Our programs should provide many formal experiences in problem solving– especially in the area of interpersonal relationships.
  7. Feeling should be nurtured, shared spontaneously, controlled when necessary, expressed when too long repressed, and explored with trusted others.
    Positive feelings are important, too. The simple joy of companionship is encouraged. The meaningfulness of friendships and how long they endure impress us. We contrive situations of controlled danger in which children can test themselves, can know fear and become the master of it. Feelings also get expressed through many kinds of creative activities that are woven into the fabric of a Re-ED program.
  8. The group is very important to young people, and it can become a major source of instruction in growing up.
    When a group is functioning well, it is difficult for an individual student to behave in a disturbing way. Even when the group is functioning poorly, the frictions and the failures can be used constructively. Discussion of difficulties or planning of activities can be a most maturing experience. Counselors should help facilitate the group to work independently and provide a source of positive support for one another.
  9. Ceremony and ritual give order, stability, and confidence to troubled children and adolescents, whose lives are often in considerable disarray.
    In almost every program we offer, group counseling is an important modality used and it is one that especially lends itself to ceremony and ritual. Held every day at the same time, several times a day and lead by the same staff, we emphasize the importance of the beginning, middle and ending part of the group exercise. Not only do the youth learn from each other about how to make progress on their goals, they also benefit from the consistency and structure of the exercise.
  10. The body is the armature of the self, the physical self around which the psychological self is constructed.
    In our schools and residential centers, we provide opportunities for youth to engage in rigorous sports and exercise. This is done not with the idea of turning out better athletes, but to give them a greater awareness of what they can physically do. In this way we are able to use the body to increase self-confidence. It is, in many ways, an exercise in self-discovery.
  11. Communities are important for children and youth, but the uses and benefits of community must be experienced to be learned.
    Many children and adolescents who are referred to our schools come from families that are alienated or detached from community life. Re-ED programs for adolescents have worked out dozens of ways for students to participate in community projects. For example, distributing boxes of food and toys to needy families at Christmas, gathering migrating birds injured by flying into a television tower at night and taking the birds to a shelter, participating in a neighborhood clean-up day, and so on. These activities encourage a bond with the community as well as increase the self-esteem and sense of belonging for youth.
  12. A child should know some joy in each day and look forward to some joyous event for the morrow.
    There is an extensive literature on anxiety, guilt and dread, but little on the impact of joy on a child’s life. Thus, we go beyond contemporary psychology to touch one of the most vital areas of the human experience. We must all try to become skillful at developing joyful moments for our students. Some of the most satisfying moments are generated by successful achievement in school. To do well in spelling or arithmetic or to handle an interpersonal problem well can be, for those whom expect failure, a sharp delight.

Principles of Re-Ed by Nicholas Hobbs from The Troubled and Troubling Child,1982
(Adapted by Wright School, Durham North Carolina)

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The Circle of Courage


In their book Reclaiming Youth at Risk, professors Brendtro, Brokenleg and VanBockern proposed a model of youth empowerment called Circle of Courage. The model is based on contemporary child development research, the heritage of early youth pioneers, and Native American philosophies of childcare. The model is encompassed in four core values: belonging, mastery, independence and generosity.

Native Americans described the core value of “belonging” in Indian culture in these simple words: “Be related, somehow, to everyone you know.” Treating others as kin forged powerful social bonds of community that drew all into relationships of respect. Throughout history, the tribe, not the nuclear family, always ensured the survival of the culture. Through parents might fail, the tribe was always there to nourish and come to the aid of the next generation. In working with children and adolescents, we find it beneficial to help them feel like they belong in the group. We find ways for the group to help the child and find ways for the child to help the group.

Competence, in Indian culture, was ensured by guaranteed opportunity for mastery. The first lesson in traditional Native American culture was that one should always observe those with more experience to learn from them. The child was taught to see someone with more skill as a model for learning, not as a rival. One must strive for mastery for personal reasons, not to be superior to someone else. Humans have an innate drive to master their environments. When success is met, the desire to achieve is strengthened. In addition, to help a child or adolescent to be successful at something is to help them improve their self-image and self-esteem like no other intervention in treatment.

Power was fostered by deep respect for each person’s independence. In contrast to obedience models of discipline, Native teaching was designed to build respect and teach inner discipline. From earliest childhood, children were encouraged to make decisions, solve problems and show personal responsibility. Adults modeled, nurtured, taught values and gave feedback, but children were given abundant opportunities to make choices without coercion.

The central goal in Native American child rearing is to teach the importance of being generous and unselfish. When you come on something good, first thing to do is share it with whomever you can find; that way, the good spreads out. In helping others, youth create their own proof of worthiness: they have the power to make a positive contribution to another human life.

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System of Care

A system of care is a coordinated network of community-based services and supports that are organized to meet the challenges of children and youth with serious mental health needs and their families. Families and youth work in partnership with public and private organizations to design mental health services and supports that are effective, that build on the strengths of individuals, and that address each person’s cultural and linguistic needs. A system of care helps children, youth and families function better at home, in school, in the community and throughout life.

Systems of care is not a program — it is a philosophy of how care should be delivered.  Systems of Care is an approach to services that recognizes the importance of family, school and community, and seeks to promote the full potential of every child and youth by addressing their physical, emotional, intellectual, cultural and social needs.

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Recovery Model

Finally, the use of the Recovery Model is woven in the many aspects of the work we do in TFC.  Recovery is an individual process of transformation where a person notices life changes in a number of areas. These areas include:

  • Feeling more hopeful.
  • Increased meaningful activity and personal growth.
  • Supportive and healthy relationships.
  • Bothered less by one’s psychiatric symptoms.
  • Feeling a sense of safety.

Recovery assumes that people have, within themselves, the capacity to learn to grow and change. Recovery-oriented treatment and services can help create the conditions/culture in which positive change and growth is most likely to occur.

The 10 fundamental components of recovery include the following:

  1. Self-Direction. Youth and family determine their own path of recovery
  2. Individualized and Person Centered. There are multiple pathways to recovery, based on an individual’s unique strengths.
  3. Empowerment. Youth have the authority, where indicated, to participate in all decisions that will affect their lives and they are educated and supported in this process.
  4. Strength Based. Recovery focuses on valuing and building on the multiple capacities, resiliencies, talents, coping abilities and inherent worth of individuals.
  5. Peer Support. Mutual support plays an invaluable role in recovery. Youth, where possible encourage and engage each other in recovery and provide a sense of belonging.
  6. Respect. Eliminating discrimination and stigma are critical in achieving recovery. Self-acceptance and regaining belief in oneself are particularly vital.
  7. Responsibility. Youth have a personal responsibility for their own self-care and journeys of recovery. Youth identify coping strategies and healing processes to promote and direct their own wellness.
  8. Holistic.  Recovery encompasses an individual’s whole life, including mind, body, spirit and community.
  9. Non-Linear.  Recovery is not a step-by-step process, but one based on continual growth, occasional setbacks, and learning from experience.
  10. Hope. Hope is the catalyst of the recovery process and provides the essential and motivating message of a positive future. Peers, families, friends, providers, and others can help foster hope.



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