Heartlight’s year-round adolescent program offers a therapeutic setting in a relational atmosphere that helps struggling teens begin a more fulfilling and less-destructive lifestyle. Heartlight provides a safe, loving environment for troubled teenagers that integrates counseling, academic pursuits, mentoring, group therapy, and an active program schedule that encourages life-changing decisions to ensure a healthy and productive life.
The success of the Heartlight Ministries therapeutic program revolves around the personal relationships between residents and staff. Through one-on-one involvement in the life of each teen, the staff build trust and establish an environment for change in the lives of hurting teens.
Heartlight is dedicated to helping teenagers and families overcome difficult situations. Founded in 1989 as a non-profit organization, Heartlight is a 9-12 month Christian residential counseling opportunity. Teens and families progress through five levels of therapy. For the teenager, the levels lead to healthy thinking and right actions; for families, bonds are strengthened with the teen’s parents and others.
Heartlight has great compassion for families in crisis situations and is committed to giving the very best care to adolescents who must be removed from the home. The program operates year-round for up to 48 boys and girls on a stunning 100-acre campus with more than 40 full-time staff. Heartlight uses various types of counseling and constant care with a loving approach to build trust and develop relationships. Families are closely involved, with on-campus training and counseling events and retreats, the parents are helped at the same time as the teenager.
Each Heartlight resident meets weekly with a designated counselor who utilizes a biblical model of counseling in approach. Each full-time on-site counselor is responsible for the emotional care of approximately 10-15 students.
Counselors lead two group sessions and an individual counseling session with the student each week. They are intricately involved in the lives of the young people counseled, as well as with the parents, becoming the “point of contact” for each family.
Parents are phoned each week after the individual counseling session with the teenager to provide an update and to discuss important therapy issues. Counselors also meet with the parents during the on-site retreats and family weekends and communicate with the family via email.
Counseling Also Involves the Family
The goal of the counselor’s interaction with the family and the training of parents by Mark Gregston during the three Parent Retreats (one approximately every 3 months) is to ensure there are proper expectations regarding the behavior of the teen at each stage of the program and to help the family prepare for the eventual return of the teen to home. When a parent knows what to expect, they can more readily deal with the counseled teen on the proper level — to love him or her unconditionally. They also are more likely to be firm with their teenager to stick with the counseling program until the therapist says they are ready to leave, which helps the student engage in the counseling quicker, reducing the amount of time needed at Heartlight.
Heartlight’s in-house Christian counselors constantly interact with residential staff and leadership regarding the progress of each resident’s emotions and behavior. The counselor determines, with the assistance of house staff and the administrative team, when a resident is ready to move up a step in the Level program.
Heartlight is one of the best therapeutic programs for adolescents in the country. It ensures not only improved attitude and behavior, but also a changed atmosphere upon the teen’s return home.