Category Archives: Uncategorized

Sharing Truth in Everyday Life at CRA

Before I was a Family Teacher at CRA, I was a youth director at a small church in Ohio. I love teenagers and love helping them discover who Jesus is and the relationship He wants with them. However, while I was working at the church, God started to stir within me a desire for more life-on-life ministry; something more than an hour and a half for youth group once a week. This is when God opened the door for Compass Rose Academy, and I am so grateful to serve here. 

When I tell people about my job at CRA, I often get similar responses:

“It sounds kind of crazy.”
“That sounds exhausting.”
“What a challenging but rewarding job.” 

These are all accurate. So why do I do what I do? I do it because God called me here, and I want to be obedient to that. I do it because Jesus modeled incarnational ministry. John 1:14 says, “So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.” Jesus entered our world and made it possible to have a relationship with the Father. Living life with these girls at Compass Rose is just a small way to partner with what God is already doing and share His love and truth with them through daily interactions. I am reminded of Paul, Silas and Timothy’s words in 1 Thessalonians 2:8, which says, “We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too.” It is a privilege to share not only the truth of the gospel, but the ups and downs of everyday life as well. 

And on the hard days, I cling to the truth found in Lamentations 3:21-23:

“Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:
The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
His mercies begin afresh each morning.”

God’s mercies are new every morning with me, and so I chose to start each day fresh with the girls at Compass Rose. It does not matter what happened the day before, because I try to come in with a fresh perspective and outlook for today, just like God does with me. It is my prayer that over time the girls at CRA will come to know how much God loves them, and that’s why I do what I do.

-Callie Willoughby, CRA Family Teacher

How is Sand Tray Therapy Used in Treatment?

At Compass Rose, we use a variety of experiential treatment models to help our students heal. One of these treatment models is sand tray therapy. 

What is sand tray therapy?

Sand tray therapy utilizes miniatures to allow the client to create scenes or worlds within a tray of sand. The scenes or worlds created reflect the client’s own life as they see it. This treatment model, most often used with children, is especially helpful with clients dealing with trauma or resistance to treatment as it gives expression to non-verbalized emotions or struggles. 

How does it work?

To begin this process, the therapist introduces the sand tray and miniatures. The therapist will then invite the client to create a scene or world, using whatever miniatures the client chooses. The client can choose however many they want. If the client seems overwhelmed by the lack of structure, the therapist can make a suggestion as to what the client might make a scene of, such as “Make a scene of how you feel about your family.” The therapist simply observes while the client builds their scene, noticing details like order and placement of the miniatures. 

When the client finishes creating their scene, the therapist asks the client to describe it to them. After an initial explanation, the therapist may ask more questions about specific areas of the tray or individual miniatures. The therapist can then ask the client if there is anything they would like to change in their scene or build another sand tray. Therapists are advised not to take apart the scene until the client has left the room, so the scene can remain intact in the client’s mind for them to process further. 

Sand tray therapy is just one of several treatment models we use here at Compass Rose. We are excited to have an expanded space to store and display our collection of miniatures on our new campus, and we would love for you to contribute to our collection! You are welcome to mail us miniatures or bring one (or several) next time you visit campus. We would like to have as many as possible for our students to choose from as professionals suggest having a minimum of 300 miniatures available. Here are some examples of the types of miniatures we need:

  • Figurines representing people of different ages and ethnicities
  • Animals
  • Buildings
  • Transportation
  • Vegetation
  • Fences/Gates/Signs
  • Bridges/Shelters
  • Superheros
  • Fantasy items
  • Religious symbols
  • Money/treasure
  • Household items
  • Medical related items

These can be found at dollar stores, yard sales, thrift shops, or online. We look forward to seeing what you find!



Boik, B.L. & Goodwin, E. A. (2000). Sandplay Therapy. New York:
  W.W.Norton & Company.

DeDomenico, G. (1995). Sandtray world play: A Comprehensive guide
  to the use of the sandtray in pscyhotherapeutic and transformational
  settings. Oakland CA: Vision Quest Images.

Homeyer, L.E. & Sweeney, D.S. ( 2011). Sandtray Therapy, 2nd
  edition. New York:Routledge.

Zhou, D. (2009). A Review of Sandplay Therapy. International
  Journal of Psychological Studies, 1(2), 69-72.

Social-Emotional Learning in the Secondary Education Setting

The Academy at Compass Rose incorporates a variety of social-emotional learning opportunities for students as a part of our curriculum. Here are some concrete examples of how we incorporate this into our academic structure. 

Morning Meeting: Each day, our teachers hold a morning meeting with their students during the first fifteen minutes of the day. During this meeting, teachers check-in with each student individually to see how students are feeling about the day, discuss classroom concerns or issues and participate in a devotional. This time allows students to feel connected and safe upon entering the classroom environment. 

Weekly Goal Setting: Each week, students set academic, social/behavioral, phase and spiritual goals. These goals are student-driven, helping students to maintain ownership over their goals. However, academic staff members provide feedback to students on what type of social/behavioral goals that students might need to be aware of. 

Consistent Feedback: Each day, teachers give students specific feedback in regards to how they are doing both individually and in interactions with peers. This feedback is derived from the Teaching-Family Model, an evidenced-based, trauma-informed model of care which we use to identify specific skills that students are displaying. 

Classroom Community: Throughout the school year, teachers are intentional about integrating activities that help to build community within the classroom setting. Students collaborate to create classroom expectations, which are displayed in the classroom, and participate in various service projects together. 

Healthy Confrontation: While enrolled at CRA, students are taught the 8-step confrontation model. This model is used when students need to confront a peer or staff member about something. The steps include: step into grace, state the conflict clearly, own your part, hear the other, state your win/win request, natural consequences of no change, return to grace and check back in in twenty four hours. 

Focus on Relationships: Teachers often attend lunch with students and participate in activities outside of the classroom such as program graduations, recreational activities, parent weekends, etc. Strong relationships with academic staff members aid in students building trust which enables them to feel safe and secure in their classroom environment. 

Compass Rose students engage in social-emotional learning daily at The Academy. As you can see, the importance of social-emotional learning can’t be overstated as it increases interpersonal skills needed for future employment while also boosting self-esteem.

-By CRA Academic Director, Katherine Kelly

Teens Finding Their Voice: Self-Advocating or Manipulating?

Struggling teens often lose their voice. Teens that are traumatized are often too scared or anxious to use their voice. Teens battling depression or other mental illnesses lack energy to use their voice. And teens in difficult relationships frequently don’t believe their voice has value or worth.  All this leads to teens doubting themselves and losing trust in the validity of their voice. 

One of the goals we frequently set for these teens is to “find and practice utilizing their voice.” This starts with small things like sharing their likes and dislikes such as their favorite movie or music genre. And then grows to more challenging tasks like expressing differences while staying in relationship, practicing healthy confrontation, or identifying their needs and asking for them to be met. We often use self-advocating to describe this latter process. The goal being that they know and trust themselves to advocate for their needs to be met in healthy ways.

However, we frequently experience an “over-correction” when a teen begins to find their voice. They sometimes are enthralled with the power of it so much that they wield it for more than getting their needs met. This is the shadow side of self-advocacy: manipulation.

So, what’s the difference between self-advocating and manipulating? And how can you encourage your teen to use their voice in a healthy way?  Here are some tips to help distinguish and encourage self-advocacy:

  1. Manipulation misuses power. This might seem obvious, but it’s helpful to consider how much power your teen actually has. Teens should have more power than children. If teens experience caregivers as controlling or coddling, they will often resort to manipulation to experience a bit more power. On the other hand, teens should not have all the power of adults in their lives because they aren’t fully developed enough cognitively to handle the resulting responsibilities.  Families can help minimize manipulation by giving teens an age appropriate dose of power.  
  2. Manipulation is weak. It’s the easy way out, it’s a win for the teen only, and usually quite selfish. It shortcuts ownership, responsibility, investment in relationships, and might even emerge as entitlement. Self advocacy actually takes initiative. The hallmark of this is that life is actually improved for everyone involved, not just the teen.  Of course there are sacrifices. Life won’t be easy as the caregiver of a teen. But families that foster win/win scenarios and reward initiative are more likely to develop self-advocating teens. 
  3. Manipulation creates distance. If you feel yourself being pushed away, that’s a good indicator that manipulation is occurring. Self-advocacy will actually bring the relationship closer. Sharing needs and wants is a vulnerable act, and in healthy relationships, that will actually create more warmth and empathy. Families that help create the safety for needs to be expressed will experience more “felt closeness.”

Your teen’s voice is valid and valuable! Creating a family culture that honors their voice helps cultivate bravery, initiative, and trust, all of which are key ingredients necessary for teens to find their voice and learn to self-advocate. 


-By CRA Clinical Director, Stacey Ruberg, MA, LMHC

The Growth Model: The 3 Necessary Ingredients to Heal and Grow

At Compass Rose Academy, we are known for our work using The Growth Model. While this is a research supported and neuroscience proven approach, we also find that this path to healing and growth is consistent with what we find in Scripture. There are a few fundamental ingredients to growth that are woven throughout biblical themes and the life of Jesus. Those three key ingredients are grace, truth and time, and all exist within the context of relationship.

Much of the literature in the field of mental health and counseling, regardless of theoretical orientation, point to the importance of being “client centered” and maintaining “unconditional positive regard.” This all has to do with having a stance that is for the client. Taking this “for you” stance provides the fundamental and necessary ingredient of grace which is required to grow. In this way, science supports what we know inherently as well as from Scripture: to heal and grow, people need grace. One of my favorite quotes from author Bob Goff states, “People grow where they are loved.” We see this time and time again in stories from Scripture, such as the story of the woman at the well, the adulterous woman who faced stoning, and many more. The ultimate example was shown when, “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Grace had to come first. With our clients and in our relationships, grace has to come first. 

Once grace has been administered, truth is necessary. Often as Western Christians, we tend to hear truth with a harsh, even judgmental tone, which is far from what we actually see in Scripture. Since “there is now no condemnation for those in Christ,” we have to shift our understanding of truth away from the legalistic and punitive tones and toward its rightful place in the realm of reality and boundaries. Truth provides reality. With all grace and no truth, we’re left without any push toward growth, and grace without truth is permissive enabling. However, truth without grace is harsh and punitive. Both must be present, and grace must come first. In the context of love and acceptance administered through a safe relationship, we’re able to then hear and grow from boundaries and truth. This is what Scripture is referring to when it talks about speaking the truth in love. Without love and grace, not only can the truth be punitive, but it also won’t actually get in.

The last of the ingredients is time. We have formed our unhealthy coping patterns and defenses over time, and it takes time to heal. Furthermore, those unhealthy or no longer helpful responses that are now causing us pain were developed in relationships over time. Just as relational experiences void of grace and truth over time caused us to learn that the world isn’t safe, we aren’t enough, etc, only relational experiences full of grace and truth over time can heal these wounds. We are relational beings, created for connection and belonging. Many negative relational experiences cause pain and regression, and it takes many healing relational experiences to heal and grow. 

Just as is evidenced throughout the Bible, with both grace and (then) truth, over time, we are able to experience healing and growth. 

-By Madeline Spring, Director of Admissions, MA, LMHC

CRA New Campus Development Continues

Compass Rose Academy is thanking God for providing us with the resources to build and expand upon the new CRA campus — a place to heal and a place to grow. 

So far, over $4.1 million dollars have been raised, surpassing the $4 million dollars of self-investment by White’s Residential and Family Services, with each donation getting us closer to covering the nearly $13 million dollar cost of phases one and two of the expansion.  The first phase of this intentionally designed, Christian, clinical, and academic environment includes three homes, a staff housing complex, and a multi-purpose building. The second phase of the project will involve building three additional homes and adding on to the staff housing building. 

CRA Family Teachers began moving into the staff housing in early April, and CRA students will move into their new homes in late May. The multi-purpose building, “The Hub”, will contain academic classrooms, therapy spaces, a fitness room, a nurse’s clinic, and administrative offices, and it is on track to be completed in July. CRA will celebrate this new chapter in our history with a ribbon cutting on Friday, August 27th. 

Work has already begun on the additional three homes that will double our current capacity from 24 students to 48 to meet the increasing need for our services. The addition to the staff housing will allow the complex to house a total of 20 Family Teachers. 

The future of Compass Rose is exciting as plans are in place to enhance the holistic, therapeutic environment with the addition of a barn and farm animals. We are grateful for the Lord’s leading as we enter into this new season, and we are excited to witness the ways He will continue to form and shape Compass Rose Academy in the future. 

Compass Rose Academy Partners With IWU To Offer Dual Enrollment Program

Compass Rose is thrilled to announce their new partnership with Indiana Wesleyan University-National & Global (IWU) to offer dual enrollment to our students. This program will provide eligible students with the opportunity to take accelerated college-level courses online while at Compass Rose in order to earn credits toward both their high school diploma and future college degree simultaneously.

“Indiana Wesleyan has been a tremendous partner in various ways and has remained a strong and faithful institution, so we are pleased to be partnering with them in this way going forward as well,” said Mike Haarer, Vice President and Executive Director of Compass Rose. “We are hopeful this program will provide yet another unique opportunity for our students to invest in their future while learning and growing at Compass Rose.”  

Through this program, students can save both time and money, as tuition is offered at a reduced rate. There are nearly 50 courses available, all of which can be taken 100% online. Multiple areas of study are offered including English/Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies. Compass Rose students that participate will also have access to convenient resources such as Off Campus Library Services and tutoring. 

After graduating high school, students will have the opportunity to transition smoothly into one of IWU’s 140+ undergraduate degree programs, which they can earn online or at one of IWU’s education centers throughout Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky.         

Learn more about this new dual enrollment program HERE.

CRA Staff Move Into New Campus Apartments

On Monday, April 5, 2021, seven Compass Rose Academy staff members began moving into their apartments on the new campus. This step is part of the first phase of the move to the new Compass Rose Academy campus.

The new apartment building can house up to 10 staff members and is located near the future student housing. While CRA houseparents aren’t required to live on campus, it is sometimes included as part of their job offer, depending on their individual situation. The apartments throughout the White’s residential campus that some of the CRA staff currently live in will be maintained and used by future WRFS or CRA staff.

“I think the part I’m most excited about [for the new space] is the community, being able to live together. We already do so much of life together, and I can think of so many other staff that I come over and visit right now and living together and getting to enjoy life together outside of work and inside of work just seems really exciting to me,” said Eden Craig, CRA Houseparent.

Michael Horn, Chief Operations Officer and General Counsel, noted that having the CRA staff housing situated on the new campus will be crucial to Compass Rose Academy establishing its own identity separate from White’s RFS.

“I think it will be really holistic for [the CRA students] to be able to just focus on themselves. Right now they get very fixated on, ‘What is everybody else doing?’ rather than, ‘What am I doing?’ and, ‘What is our cottage doing?’ We really are moving towards, rather than feeling like you’re in a facility, really feeling like you’re in a home and you’re in a family-type setting,” said Craig. 

The students will not move into their new housing until the second phase of the plan, which will begin later this spring. The third and final phase of the plan will include the staff moving into their new offices.

CRA Students Connect Literature to Life

At Compass Rose Academy, students in Creative Writing are approaching Shakespeare from a somewhat unique angle. In addition to discussing the usual literary aspects of plot, characterization, etc., we are also focusing on what lessons we can draw from a writer’s standpoint. As all writers more or less steal from other writers (Shakespeare himself stole all his plots from other sources), we’re looking to do the same. This time, from one of the best, in one of his best works, Othello.

Othello is a story that resonates with audiences because of the personal nature of the struggle between Othello, the tragic hero, and the horrid villain, Iago. Iago’s intense resentment and jealousy towards Othello spurs him to plot Othello’s downfall. Othello, who claims he is “not easily jealous” becomes “wrought in the extreme” by Iago’s lies. Eventually, the villain does get caught, but not before he exacts a terrible revenge against his supposed friend.

The students studying the play have grown to despise Iago, yet, in a strange way, admire his insight and quick thinking. In another situation, his skills would be commendable. Instead, Iago uses his strengths to achieve hideous goals. From a human standpoint, this story reinforces the importance that it’s not our skills themselves, but what we do with them that counts.

We extend that lesson into the classroom by focusing not just on how Shakespeare uses dramatic irony to draw the reader in, or the difficulty of writing an entire play in the poetic form of blank verse, but also on how each of us has strengths as a person, and as a writer, and how we should skew toward our strengths, rather than dwell on our weaknesses. It seems like common sense that it is easier to move from good to great, than poor to mediocre. This is because areas in which we are subpar are often areas we aren’t all that interested in, and so do not devote time to them because we are engaged in our interests, which usually trend with our strengths.

In our Creative Writing course, our main, overarching lesson is to always lean toward what we do well, first. A secondary, no less important goal is to form a greater understanding of human nature. We’re not all going to write like Shakespeare, nor should we be expected to. But we can be the best versions of ourselves, both from a writing standpoint and a personal one as well. 

In the end, reading great literature not only gives us deep insight into how to become effective writers, but it also teaches us important personal lessons about human nature, so that, when we engage in our own writing, our understanding is deeper, richer, and fuller. In this way, we not only become better writers, but, because our understanding of human nature is deepened, better human beings as well.

-Charlies Eichman
Compass Rose Academy English Language Arts Teacher

Students Reflect on Growth Through Bonding

What CRA character capacity is the ability to relate to God and others, to connect to something outside of ourselves, and to never be left without a way to get our needs met?

  1. Bonding
  2. Boundaries
  3. Reality
  4. Competence  

If you said bonding, you are correct!  Our students have recently completed CRA’s quarterly growth model emphasis on the character capacity of bonding, also known at attachment. This didactic series and related phase work emphasizes growth in the areas of connecting to others through attunement in relationships, connecting to self by being aware of emotions and learning to soothe or regulate, identifying relational needs and seeking to get them met in relational ways, and taking risks to trust and feel safe in appropriate relationships.

I have the privilege of teaching our growth model didactics and a front row seat to the evolution of our students in these character capacities.  I want to “pull back the curtain” and share with you what I see everyday.  I recently asked our students to reflect on some ways they have seen themselves grow in their ability to connect, bond, attach and relate to others.  Here are a few of their responses:

“I have grown in bonding by knowing my relational needs and seeking to meet them.  Also by trusting myself and others.”

“I have grown in bonding because I am now able to relate and talk with my parents and peers instead of shutting down. I’m also able to assert myself when necessary.”

“I’m able to reach out for help in a positive way and say what my needs are.”

“I’ve made a lot more growth in bonding by being honest. I’ve learned to be gentle but open with my parents. I’ve been able to attune to my family and peers.”

“I have grown so much in the area of bonding. I now know how to attune to others as well as attune to myself. I also now know more relational needs for myself and others. I can identify my emotions and get help when it is needed.”

“I have grown through bonding by using my attunement skills and AB communication.  I can reflect how I am feeling and trust others including myself to share my deepest fears and feelings.”

“I learned how to speak for my needs. I learned my feelings are valid.”

“I have learned how to stay in relationship even when there is conflict.”

“I have grown during our bonding unit by asking what peoples’ relational needs are and then using them when they need it.”

“I have gotten better at realizing what my emotions are and where I feel them in my body.”

“I am able to seek out my needs and identify them to others. I have healthy relationships and am able to attune to others. I have new mindfulness exercises that I put into practice daily. I meet others’ (around me ) needs healthily.  I value my own emotions and don’t take on emotions of those around me.”  

Hmmmm…. “Don’t take on emotions of those around me.”  That sounds like a different character capacity- maybe boundaries?  Lucky student, that’s our next didactic series!

Stacey Ruberg

-Stacey Ruberg, MA, LMHC
Compass Rose Academy Clinical Director

The Biblical Basis for Boundaries

I remember really questioning the idea of boundaries early in my adult life. Is it really biblical to have and assert boundaries as a Christian? Did Jesus model boundaries? I thought of the scripture in Matthew where he said, “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well” (NIV, Matthew 5:39-40). What does it look like as a Christian to have a strong “No” when our model for living is to give the shirt off our back?

So, first of all, what do we really mean when we talk about having strong boundaries? Developmentally, having strong boundaries means that we have a strong sense of who we are and what we stand for. It’s a result of the early developmental stage, individuation, that directly follows attachment. In this way, we develop a strong foundation for life through safe, meaningful relationships right before we begin to understand and assert who we are as an independent, separate being from others.

God designed our lives to be this way. He calls us first to a life of meaningful connections (with Him and others) that are stabilizing, energizing, enriching, and growth-producing. Secondly, He actually does call us to a life of boundaries. We are designed to know who we are and what we stand for. God wants us to be rooted securely in Him and who He has made us to be. The more secure we are in our identity and beliefs as an individual, the less we are like an infant, “tossed back and forth by the waves” (Ephesians 4:14). To live a life of faithful following, we must know who we are apart from others. To not be conformed to the patterns of the world (Romans 12:2) means that we are rooted securely in our identity as children of God.

I think that if we are letting everyone slap us on the cheek and take the shirts off of our backs as a pattern in our lives, there might be an indication of poor boundaries. But I also think it’s clear that that was not Christ’s example. So, I realize now that giving the shirt off of our backs can actually be the most boundaried thing we could do. If I’m secure in who I am, then others’ actions don’t define me. I give because I am giving. I love because God first loved me. I sacrifice because I’ve been a recipient of the ultimate sacrifice.

If you’ve ever wondered what it means to have boundaries as a Christian or even just in general, I challenge you to lean in and explore this identity piece. Who are you as a separate person from others? What defines you? How do decide when to give freely out of a place of love and when it’s the right time to say “no,” also out of a place of love?

Mike Haara

-Mike Haarer, MA, LMHC
Compass Rose Academy VP & Executive Director

Compass Rose Academy Adding Therapy Animals to Treatment Program

Compass Rose Academy is thrilled to announce the addition of therapy animals to our treatment program! This initiative will involve the addition of one therapy dog into each of the three student homes. The dogs will be therapy dogs or therapy dogs-in-training and houseparents will receive handler training. The students will interact with the dogs in their own living environment and will also participate in caring for the dogs by sharing chores and responsibilities related to feeding, grooming, and otherwise tending to the dog’s needs.

CRA has partnered with highly reputable breeders and trainers in the area to provide dogs that are well-bred and trained for therapy. Our partnership with the trainers provides a variety of on and off-site training. The training agency will work with Compass Rose and our dogs to see them through a therapeutic training process as well as support the integration of the dogs into our overall program and milieu. For the past couple of years our team has been researching and learning about how and why to incorporate therapy dogs into our program and believe there will be significant benefits for our girls!

Dogs are undoubtedly viewed as having among the closest ties to humans. While some liken the human-dog relationship to the friendship of adult pair bonds (Menna et al., 2019), Payne et al. (2015) say that the human-dog dyad is actually has attachment patterns that most closely resemble the parent-child relationship. The relationship demonstrates four key features of attachment including proximity seeking, the secure base effect, the safe haven effect, and separation-related distress. Despite some of the mechanisms of human-animal relationships remaining uncertain, it is widely accepted that animals do indeed contribute in some ways to the physical and social health of many humans (Stern & Chur-Hansen, 2013).

Perhaps due to the propensity for close bonds between some animals and humans, animals have been used in psychological treatment dating back to as early as the late 1700s (O’Haire et al., 2015). A that time they were primarily used in mental health institutions to help increase patient socialization. It was first introduced into modern psychotherapy through the writings of Levinson and Mallon in articles in the 1960s (Parish-Plass, 2008). Levinson’s primary goal was to motivate resistant children through his use of animals in therapy. Since that time, the use of animals in therapy has spread to various populations including elderly, autistic individuals, prison inmates, individuals with chronic or terminal illness, and psychiatric patients including those suffering from trauma, anxiety, or depression.

There are various types of interventions involving animals, each with a unique focus. Animal-Assisted Interventions (AAIs) are “any therapeutic process that intentionally includes or involves animals as part of the process or milieu” (Fine, 2006 as cited in Stern & Chur-Hansen, 2013).

While various types of animals are used in AAIs, dogs are most common due to factors including accessibility and trainability (Stern & Chur-Hansen, 2013). Menna et al. (2019) notes that dogs are the main species involved and studied in AAIs consider the dogs the species of choice due in part to their particular ability to read the nonverbal language of humans.

There are multiple ways that the presence of animals in therapy is believed to provide support to individual in treatment for the psychological impact of trauma. Beetz et al. (2012) propose that the oxytocin system has an important role in many of the positive psychological and psychophysiological effects. The presence of an animal may also remind the patient that the danger is no longer present, create warmth and draw positive emotions, reduce loneliness associated with PTSD, and calm anxious arousal (O’Haire, 2015).

Parish-Plass (2008) has applied Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) in work with children with insecure attachment due to abuse and neglect. She reports the animals’ calming presence creates a safe atmosphere for children to talk about trauma. Animals also help the child to feel less threatened by the therapist by making them feel more trustworthy. In this way the primary impact is to support a more secure child-therapist bond. She also notes that from an Object Relations standpoint, the child is also able to project objects onto animals in a way that helps them work through past issues and gain greater insight.

Beetz, A., Uvnäs-Moberg, K., Julius, H., & Kotrschal, K. (2012). Psychosocial and psychophysiological effects of human-animal interactions: The possible role of oxytocin. Frontiers in Psychology, 3.
Dravsnik, J., Signal, T., & Canoy, D. (2018). Canine co-therapy: The potential of dogs to improve the acceptability of trauma-focused therapies for children. Australian Journal of Psychology, 70(3), 208–216.
Hoagwood, K. E., Acri, M., Morrissey, M., & Peth-Pierce, R. (2017). Animal-assisted therapies for youth with or at risk for mental health problems: A systematic review. Applied Developmental Science, 21(1), 1–13.
Menna, L. F., Santaniello, A., Todisco, M., Amato, A., Borrelli, L., Scandurra, C., & Fioretti, A. (2019). The human–animal relationship as the focus of animal-assisted interventions: A one health approach. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(19), 3660.
Mills, D., & Hall, S. (2014). Animal-assisted interventions: Making better use of the human-animal bond. Veterinary Record, 174(11), 269–273.
O’Haire, M. E., Guérin, N. A., & Kirkham, A. C. (2015). Animal-assisted intervention for trauma: A systematic literature review. Frontiers in Psychology, 6.
Parish-Plass, N. (2008). Animal-assisted therapy with children suffering from insecure attachment due to abuse and neglect: A method to lower the risk of intergenerational transmission of abuse? Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 13(1), 7–30.
Payne, E., Bennett, P., & McGreevy, P. (2015). Current perspectives on attachment and bonding in the dog–human dyad. Psychology Research and Behavior Management, 71.
Stern, C., & Chur-Hansen, A. (2013). Methodological considerations in designing and evaluating animal-assisted interventions. Animals, 3(1), 127–141.

Wamser-Nanney, R., & Steinzor, C. E. (2017). Factors related to attrition from trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy. Child Abuse & Neglect, 66, 73–83.

CRA Students Build Confidence Through Professional Development

An important aspect of Compass Rose Academy’s academic program is to help students to be prepared for life outside of Compass Rose. CRA is now offering a new elective course to the students this semester entitled “Adult Roles & Responsibilities.” As part of the curriculum for this class, the students are working on identifying what skill sets students can offer to future employers, resume writing, and conducting mock interviews with their peers.

This week Academic Director Katherine Kelly and her academic staff conducted job interviews with each student to better prepare them for their future after CRA.

Katherine mentioned, “We provide a variety of opportunities for students to build competence and gain confidence in their God-given talents. This unit culminated with a formal “mock interview” day in which students were required to dress up for a formal interview, and staff members interviewed students and extended several “job offers.” Students were able to practice how to appropriately greet a potential employer, verbally articulate their strengths and ultimately gain the confidence that they will need to be successful.”

Parenting Styles Affect Everything

An important aspect of our academic program is to help students to be prepared for life outside of Compass Rose. We provide a variety of opportunities for students to build competence and gain confidence in their God-given talents. Currently, our Adult Roles and Responsibilities class is working on studying different types of parenting styles and identifying which type they identify with the most.

Parenting styles can affect everything from how much a child weighs to how she feels about herself. It’s important to ensure parenting styles are supporting healthy growth and development because the way a parent interacts with their child and how the parent  disciplines her will influence her for the rest of her life. Researchers have identified four types of parenting styles:

  • Authoritarian – Focus on obedience, punishment over discipline
  • Authoritative – Create positive relationship, enforce rules
  • Permissive – Don’t enforce rules, “kids will be kids” mindset
  • Uninvolved – Provides little to no guidance, nurturing, or attention

Each style takes a different approach to raising children and can be identified by a number of different characteristics. Do you know which style you align with?


Winter Activities Create Bonding Opportunities

This time of year can be a bitter one for teens. With the low temperatures keeping them inside, it’s often easy for everyone to develop a case of “cabin fever.” But with a little creativity, you and your teen can have the best winter yet with some fun and easy activities!

  • If it isn’t too frigid, spend some time outside! Go sledding, build a snow fort or a snowman or have a snowball fight. The options are endless when it comes to fun in the snow! And after all of that playing in the snow, your teen is going to need something to warm up. Set up a hot cocoa bar by gathering some favorite hot cocoa toppings such as marshmallows and sprinkles, then load up your cups!
  • It’s great to get your teen to volunteer for those in need. Volunteer together at a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter, or simply offer your snow-shoveling skills to older neighbors. It will not only help those who need it, but both of you will also have a great sense of accomplishment.
  • If the cold is keeping your teen inside, take advantage of the opportunity to bond. Try cooking a new recipe together. The internet is a great source with millions of recipes, so you are sure to find something that appeals to you both. Cooking together is a great way to connect over small talk, and you’ll have a tasty dish to share afterward.
  • Get creative! Craft, paint or draw together. It’s soothing and relaxing, especially on a cold winter’s day.
  • Visit a museum or a local indoor attraction together, or see a movie. Even when the temperatures drop well into freezing, you don’t have to stay at home. Go explore your city together! If you feel like you’ve been there and done that, seek out shops in a nearby community.
  • Visit the local community recreation center with your teen. This can help both of you to stay healthy and keep your New Year’s resolutions!

Winter doesn’t have to be a boring time for you and your teen. Plan something fun on cold weekends, and you will create a bond that lasts a lifetime.

CRA Hosting First Virtual Parent Weekend

Whether you are a staff, student, or parent, one of the best times at Compass Rose is Parent Weekend. Our quarterly parent weekends are designed to be intensive but fast-paced, challenging but fun, and vulnerable but rewarding.

We’ll miss seeing our families in person, but we are thankful for technology that allows us to still host virtual Parent Weekend amidst the global pandemic. This weekend will focus on one of the four areas of our Growth Model, bonding. 

The capacity to relate to God and others, to connect to something outside of yourself. All of life’s tasks rely on this ability. With it, you are never left without a way to meet your needs. 

During the weekend, parents and students will have the opportunity to participate in:

  • Devotionals
  • Special music from students
  • Family therapy sessions
  • Fun therapeutic videos from staff
  • Parent group
  • Live stream church service

Between sessions, families are invited to check into virtual “meeting rooms” to be able to have casual, unstructured conversation as desired as they would during an in-person Parent Weekend. 

We are looking forward to interacting with our parents and students during this virtual, winter Parent Weekend. 

Reframing Expectations During a COVID-19 Christmas

One of the things I’ve been thinking about is how powerful the idea of “reframing” can be. We may be overwhelmed with the idea of loss, thinking of all the things that won’t be the same over this holiday and the parties that will be canceled and the things we won’t get to do. With some “reframing” we can begin to think about how canceling some of those parties, that can actually sometimes feel like an “obligation,” can free up our time to be present with our immediate family. Being “stuck” in small groups can actually help us to be more attentive to the ones around us. Instead of going to a party that Great Aunt Jean insists on having every year even though everyone dreads it, now we just get to put on our pajamas and watch Elf or the Mandalorian or 60 Hallmark Christmas movies in a row.

A friend of mine just shared a story about how he didn’t get to see some extended family over Thanksgiving, so his nephew called him to say hi instead. This ended up turning into a really significant and meaningful conversation via phone that they probably wouldn’t have been able to have if they’d been in someone’s home surrounded by nosy aunts and uncles, a blaring television, and rambunctious kids playing hide-and-seek in the living room.

With a little reframing and a determination to stay present in the here-and-now with the ones in front of our faces, we may actually find that this holiday season lends us more time for rest, enjoying the moment, and sharing it with the ones we love the most.

–Mike Haarer, Vice President and Executive Director of Compass Rose Academy

How to Cultivate a Grateful Home During Difficult Times

The national conversation is so full of criticism and negativity that it can be difficult to find opportunities to express gratitude. It’s easy to forget what we have when we’re aggravated by outside forces. Busyness distracts us, and struggles let us down. Worry reminds us we’re not in control, and pain can cause faith to feel distant. However, God grants us hope by giving us a choice to choose gratefulness.

Gratitude allows God to do more than transform our situation, it lets Him in to transform our hearts. Giving praise grants God power over our struggles and reminds us that He is the ultimate force for good. We can then thrive in His peace as we let go of the troubles that hold us back.

Creating a grateful home begins with parents. As our hearts become filled with gratitude, our teens can learn from our example, allowing gratitude to give them the hope that transcends earthly distractions and aggravations. Here are some tips to begin cultivating a grateful home:

Seek opportunities to serve with your family.
Whether it’s a kind favor for a neighbor or a mission trip, serving acknowledges that we can always give what we have. Serving gives us a purpose outside of ourselves. This will also foster nurturing relationships that teach teens to be thoughtful and encouraging to those around them.

Teach praise in prayer.
As you pray with your teen, remember to express thanksgiving to God for all that you have been given. Although it’s easy to ask God for things, we often forget to thank Him for the blessings He has bestowed. Praising God as you pray with your teen models gratitude and turns the focus on all He is doing in your lives.

Practice appreciation.
Acknowledging the efforts of others fosters active participation in gratefulness. Teaching teens to express gratitude to others diverts attention away from self and onto the good in other people. Lead by example and vocally affirm what you appreciate in your teen.

Positive thoughts combined with action allow us to position ourselves toward a stance of gratitude. Sharing this outlook with teens shows them how to thrive through their pain. God can be praised in every moment; Thanksgiving is not merely a holiday but rather a reflection of our hearts. Every day provides an opportunity to create a grateful heart, and a grateful home.

Former Student Celebrates Finding Healing at Compass Rose Academy

I am Lucy, 16 years old and from Michigan. This is my faith story.

I came to Compass Rose Academy about eleven months ago after my parents and I realized that we could not continue on this path.  After being released from the hospital in the fall of 2019, we knew life would change. My parents found Compass Rose Academy, and thus began the journey of healing: my relationship with my parents, my relationship with myself, my relationship with the Lord. 

My faith before Compass Rose Academy wasn’t great and showed through how I behaved and how I treated myself and others. I was mean to myself, and that insecurity stemmed from the belief that I wasn’t good enough for others or even a God out there. What made me worth saving? Worth redemption? Worth love? 

These deep questions were left unanswered. I mistreated others. I was jealous, and I was hateful. I was filled with pieces of unsureness in who I was and envy that other people seemed to have it all together. 

Fast forward to six months into my healing journey at CRA; I began to see myself, others, and God very differently. I began to see myself not as good or bad but loved. 

I understood for the first time how to own my faith. It is shocking now to realize none of my past mistakes or the flaws made me unworthy in God’s eyes. He loved me then, and he loves me now.  I’m considered “healthier” now, or “better,” but it didn’t matter to God. The whole journey of my past, and my future, God is rooting for me. Whether I am sick, angry, hurt, or doing well, I think that it’s amazing how I have this companion who loves me through the thick and thin. I want to try to be more Christ-like as I imagine living in a world where more people who have pain similar to mine know they are loved so incredibly much, despite the mistakes they’ve made. 

Today, my faith journey has led me to learn how to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Even though it is true, it is so difficult at the same time. God dares me to love myself and others despite the mistakes and wrongs made because He loves me despite what I’ve done. 

What is Parent Weekend at Compass Rose Academy?

Whether you are a staff, student, or parent, one of the best times at Compass Rose is Parent Weekend. Our quarterly parent weekends are designed to be intensive but paced, challenging but fun, and vulnerable but rewarding.

There are a few primary and crucial goals for the weekends:

  1. We hope that parents walk away feeling more connected to other parents and perhaps for the first time on their journey feeling that they are not alone. They meet with other parents who’ve walked a similar road with similar challenges and draw strength, even relational fuel, from the connections they make.
  2. We hope that parents feel more connected to the staff and the overall program at Compass Rose. We want them to see the staff interact, get to know them as people, and learn more about the team as a whole that is caring for their daughter. They will also gain a better understanding of the Growth Model and gain practical tools and information to support them.
  3. We hope parents walk away with a feeling or realization that “I’m in the program too.” Often at their first parent weekend, parents begin to see hope and a path forward, including seeing ways that they themselves will be challenged and supported as they too learn and grow alongside their daughters.
  4. Finally, we hope that parents experience a challenging but supportive environment where they and their daughters can practice new ways of being and relating. There is enough time and space for old patterns to surface and just enough direction and support to begin to break old cycles.

We are looking forward to our next Parent Weekend October 8-11 that will focus on the competence aspect of the Growth Model.