Alexander Youth Network. The Leader in Children’s Behavioral Healthcare.
Alexander Youth Network was founded in 1888 in Charlotte by local church leaders to provide a shelter for women and children in poverty. In the 1940s, Alexander became the first non-profit organization in the state to focus on children’s emotional and behavioral healthcare. We serve more than 8,800 children annually throughout the Central, Western, Coastal and Southern Piedmont regions of North Carolina.
When your child is experiencing emotional disorders or behavioral problems, it can be difficult to cope and know where to turn for help. Turn to Alexander. We offer a comprehensive array of mental health services where your child is truly the center of the therapeutic process. Our professionals use therapies that are proven to work and give your child respect, empathy and love to help them learn ways to control themselves. We help kids no one else can and we don’t give up.
We have three main service categories:
Alexander has diagnostic and outpatient therapy services in Mecklenburg, Gaston, Lincolnton and Cleveland counties. Comprehensive Clinical Assessments are available to those who are new to the mental health system and need a determination for treatment and also to those who need court-ordered assessments. Alexander’s Outpatient Therapy Services conduct assessments as well as psychological testing, therapy and other services. Alexander’s Outpatient staff includes board-certified psychiatrists, psychologists and licensed clinical therapists.
Community-based programs are those services delivered in the home and community, including Multisystemic Therapy (MST), Multisystemic Therapy-Problem Sexual Behavior (MST-PSB) and Intensive In-Home (IIH).
Our MST programs impact behavior by working through multiple systems including home and family, schools, courts, peers and community. MST’s goals are to provide parents with the skills and resources to address difficulties in raising adolescents and to keep kids at home, in school and out of legal trouble. MST-PSB is an intensive treatment approach that addresses the underlying drivers responsible for problematic juvenile sexual behavior.
IIH provides concentrated treatment to manage a current crisis or decrease the risk of a child with a mental health diagnosis being removed from their home. The duration, frequency and intensity of these services is determined by diagnostic assessment and ongoing consultation between the treatment team including Alexander staff, school staff, family members, and others involved in treatment.
Alexander provides a 36-bed Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility (PRTF) at its main campus on Thermal Road in Charlotte. The program serves children ages 5-14 with severe emotional, behavioral and psychological problems, providing a highly structured, therapeutic environment that uses best-practice approaches. All services are provided under the direction of a board-certified child psychiatrist with 24-hour, on-site nursing. Our length of stay is determined by case, but ttypical treatment duration is four to six months.
The Thermal Road campus is also home to the agency’s largest Day Treatment program. With capacity to serve 42 children, Charlotte Day Treatment offers evidence-based treatment proven effective in helping children who struggle in the traditional classroom setting. Our highly qualified instructors teach a daily curriculum in core academic subjects that correlate with the North Carolina Course of Study. We also offer support to schools when the child is transitioned from Day Treatment back to traditional school.
Call us today at (704) 228-3444. We can help.
If your child has behavior issues that affect life at home or school, we have a service within our comprehensive array that can help. Call us today if your child has issues with any of the following:
- Behavioral problems
- Problems at school
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Oppositional Defiant Disorder
- Mood issues
- Psychological problems
- Social problems
- Self-destructive behavior
- Aggressive behavior
- Running away
- Sleep disturbances
- Self-esteem issues
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Serving Charlotte and Counties throughout North Carolina
Alexander Youth Network is headquartered in Charlotte with locations throughout the Central, Western, Coastal and Southern Piedmont regions of North Carolina. Our Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility (PRTF) is based in Charlotte and accepts at-risk children from throughout the state.
Complete Services That Work Together
Alexander has combined a variety of treatment programs into a complete Service Array; a series of programs that work together from start to finish. As a child grows and improves, we can offer the stability of customized treatment that keeps intact his safety net of friends and the professionals he has grown to trust. Positive changes have a chance to take root and he learns new patterns and behaviors. He improves faster and the results last longer.
|Without a Service Array
Children are moved repeatedly to get the treatment they need. Relationships fragment and treatment becomes difficult.
|With a Service Array
Because relationships have a chance to stay intact, positive changes take root and children learn new patterns and behaviors. They improve faster and the results last longer.
Alexander’s Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility is a highly structured, 36-bed treatment unit located on the campus of Alexander Children’s Center in Charlotte. We help children ages 5-14 overcome their severe emotional, behavioral and psychological problems and reach their potential. All services are provided under the direction of a board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrist with nursing on site 24-hours a day. We provide a staff-to-client ratio of two-to-six and our length of stay is determined by case.
Individualized plans are designed by an interdisciplinary team that includes family members. Alexander knows that kids can’t get better without help from their family. Families are asked to participate in Monthly Child and Family Team meetings, weekly family therapy and therapeutic home visits. Alexander provides two family cottages on site, allowing families to visit without charge.
Children live in cottages on Alexander’s 60-acre wooded campus. Amenities include a gym, indoor pool, and cafeteria. Meals are prepared and served in Alexander’s cafeteria, and the nutrition program follows USDA guidelines for school meals.
Our PRTF program is based on the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT), an approach that organizes a child’s history and current functioning. It emphasizes the importance of positive, supportive relationships and nurturing experiences to help children stabilize, heal and grow.
Following a highly specialized assessment called brain mapping, the experts at Alexander prescribe individualized treatment including a set of hands-on, therapeutic activities proven to promote the skills children need to manage their own behavior and get along better with others. These activities include regulatory activities such as deep-breathing, swimming, therapeutic drumming and many others. Each child’s treatment plan is reviewed and updated every 30 days.
In addition to NMT, our licensed clinicians are trained in evidence-based practices such as Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Play Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.
Day Treatment is a highly individualized treatment option for children who have social and behavioral problems that create challenges for them in traditional classroom settings. We have a streamlined enrollment process and knowledgeable staff that make it simple for parents and school officials to get the help they need. We are a chosen provider with schools because our Day Treatment program has a history of helping kids become successful in school.
Our program includes therapeutic activities designed to help students improve their emotional and behavioral skills while teaching them how to be productive in a traditional classroom setting. Day Treatment provides individual, family and group therapy as needed.
Day Treatment is funded by insurance like Medicaid and presents no financial impact to the family or school. All of our Day Treatment programs are provided in collaboration with the LEA (Local Educational Agencies.)
Alexander’s highly qualified instructors teach a daily curriculum in core academic subjects that correlates with the North Carolina Standard Course of Study. Our Day Treatment Program uniquely enables children in grades K-12 to experience success and embrace their individual talents. (Grade levels vary by location. Please call for details.) We provide a highly structured environment and use multisensory techniques in small classes to ensure the best educational experience.
Features of our Day Treatment programs
Some activities and testing procedures vary by location.
- Time dedicated daily to developmentally appropriate hands-on learning centers.
- Computers and other current technologies for optimal experiential learning.
- Education room equipped with resources and learning materials.
- On-site teaching/mentoring available during non-classroom time.
- Clinically based daily programming schedule ensures ideal environment for students.
- Modeling of appropriate classroom behaviors.
- Open year-round, even when public school is not in session.
- Comprehensive educational testing, including pre-enrollment and post-discharge tests given by a licensed teacher. These assessments track progress and determine recommendations for grade level placement upon discharge from Day Treatment.
Recreational Therapy Component
Alexander’s Day Treatment program provides daily therapeutic activities that help develop socialization, creation of friendships, promote teamwork and increase self-esteem. Activities are based on children’s needs and availability and may include swimming, yoga, outdoor adventure, therapeutic horseback riding, creative writing, drama, arts and music, pet therapy, therapeutic drumming, and other self-regulatory activities.
Alexander Day Treatment staff are dedicated to successful transitions back to traditional school for our children. Alexander recognizes the typical difficulties in transition, such as:
– Not enough support upon return for child or school
– Environment change
– Readjustment to class size
– Low social skills
– Inappropriate behavior in the school
– Power struggles
We offer support while the child is in transition, including attendance at IEP meetings and clinical coordination of emotional and treatment needs.
Find out more information about Day Treatment in our YouTube video.
Alexander’s Outpatient Therapy provides individual, group and/or family psychotherapy and consultative services to children ages 3 through 21 and their families. We offer the full range of Outpatient Services from evaluation to treatment to medication management. Our clinical team is highly qualified and has decades of experience dealing with issues like the one your family may be experiencing.
A Licensed Clinical Social Worker or a Licensed Clinical Psychologist provides therapy in a private office environment on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, depending on the need of the child and/or family. Appointments are available during evenings and weekends and we are conveniently located on the bus line. We are culturally sensitive to you and your child and have bi-lingual and bi-cultural therapists available.
The process of getting started is as simple as talking with a member of our Intake team (855.362.8470) to set up a conveniently scheduled assessment. The assessment appointment is designed for you and your child to thoroughly discuss the challenges, behaviors, and issues where you want to see positive changes. Your therapist asks questions to help understand the challenges you are facing and works with you to establish the right solution.
Shortly following the assessment, your therapist puts together a complete written evaluation. These results clearly outline your child’s treatment needs and make a clinical recommendation for which types of services or therapy are the best fit for your child and your family.
Outpatient Therapy Services referral behaviors include:
- Attention problems – ADHD
- Opposition, defiance, disrespect and aggression
- Anger issues
- Grief and loss
- Depression-feelings of sadness and tearfulness
- Mood swings
- Social withdrawal
- Sleep difficulties
- Transition or adjustment problems
- Adoption issues
- School problems
- Traumatic events
- Attachment issues
- Lying or stealing
- Bullying issues
- Truancy/absenteeism from school
- Family and relationship problems
- Self-esteem issues
We have therapists who specialize in assessment and therapy for past traumatic issues related to physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, domestic violence and/or loss of biological family.
A licensed psychologist provides psychological evaluation and testing and Alexander’s medical director and licensed child and adolescent psychiatrist provide medication management. A board-certified psychiatrist serves as medical director for outpatient services and is available for consultation as needed.
The Therapeutic Foster Care Program at Alexander Youth Network provides homes for children and adolescents who need treatment for mental health problems, trauma-based behaviors, or severe emotional disturbances. As one service in our full array, Therapeutic Foster Care helps ensure that children in our care have access to the whole solution without having to leave the relationships and trust they’ve built with our professionals.
- All Treatment Parents in our program are carefully screened and trained by AYN, and licensed by the state to provide treatment in their home.
- Treatment parents receive training in the Pressley Ridge Model of Treatment Foster Care, a proven curriculum that specializes in building specific competencies and skills for treatment focused parenting.
- AYN’s matching process is intense and ensures an appropriate fit between the Treatment Parent and the home environment to best meet the needs of each child.
- Professional Treatment Coaches with small caseloads provide weekly in-home supervision and daily support to Treatment Parents and are available for 24/7 crisis assistance or consultation as needed.
Interested in becoming a foster parent? Find out more by calling 704.227.9222, visiting http://www.alexanderyouthnetwork.org/become-a-foster-parent and checking out Foster Care FAQs at http://www.alexanderyouthnetwork.org/foster-care-faq.
Rapid Response Crisis Homes
Alexander’s Rapid Response Crisis Homes Program provides immediate and temporary out-of-home placement for a child with mental health disorders to prevent hospitalization or removal from an existing placement. Therapeutic families are specially trained to help stabilize and monitor a child’s behavior while the existing family works with professionals and other support systems in the community to reassess the child’s needs and to determine the most appropriate next steps. Treatment is limited to two weeks.
Intensive In-Home (IIH) is a home and community based treatment designed to meet the needs of families who are having a difficult time with behavior management of a child with a diagnosed mental health need. Alexander Youth Network’s IIH program is just that – intensive. It provides concentrated treatment to address a current crisis and/or to decrease the risk of a youth being removed from their home. In some cases, a child may have already been removed from their home and IIH can assist with successful reunification with their family.
IIH is an effective treatment method for youth ages 3-20 with serious emotional and behavioral problems including:
- Acting out, disruptive and/or aggressive behaviors
- Serious defiant and/or noncompliant behaviors
- Significant behavioral problems in the home or school
- Depression and other severe mood issues
- Runaway behaviors
How does Intensive In-Home Help?
- Assists youth and family/caregivers in identifying and managing triggers, cues and symptoms for behavior issues.
- Helps reduce problem behaviors by involving key family members in the treatment process.
- Improves the family’s ability to parent a child with behavioral or emotional problems.
- Further develops the family’s communication skills.
- Improves youth’s functioning at home, in school and community settings.
A team of three professionals consisting of a Licensed Clinician and two Coordinators provides IIH. Team members meet with the youth and/or family two to four times per week providing individual and family therapy, direct interventions for behavioral modification, skill building, and referral/linkage to community resources. Sessions primarily occur in the home but will also occur at community settings (including schools). The length of treatment is three to five months, with more service provided in the first months to stabilize the home environment.
IIH develops individualized Person Centered Plans for youth based on results from a clinical behavioral assessment along with the youth and family’s input. Alexander’s IIH services primarily uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), an evidence-based practice that operates on the basic assumption that thoughts strongly influence feelings and behavior. The IIH team of behavioral health providers works with the youth and family to identify negative or distorted thoughts contributing to behavioral issues through a comprehensive behavior evaluation then employs interventions to change these thoughts into more productive thoughts, resulting in more desirable behaviors.
Alexander Youth Network provides Multi-systemic Therapy (MST) to adolescents between the ages of 12 and 18 years and their families. Alexander Youth Network (AYN) was the first provider in North Carolina to be licensed in MST and has continuously met and exceeded all service expectations for model fidelity.
MST views individuals as being nested within many interconnected systems that include individual, family, peer, and community. The ultimate goal of MST is to provide parents with the skills and resources to address difficulties in raising adolescents. Services are provided for several hours per week within the multiple systems. Total duration of services averages three to five months, and staff is available 365 days per year, and on call 24 hours a day.
Staff aims to empower adolescents to cope with family, peer, school, and community expectations, and achieves these goals by providing individual, family, and marital therapy, along with community-based services. Goals are set through continuous treatment planning and reassessment.
The overarching goals are to reduce criminal activity, reduce other antisocial behaviors – such as drug use and truancy – and achieve outcomes at a cost savings to communities.
- All referrals to the program are assessed upon admission.
- The primary purpose of the assessment is to understand the fit between identified problems and their broader systemic context.
- Therapeutic contacts are positive and strength-focused.
- Interventions are designed to promote responsible behavior and decrease irresponsible behavior.
- Interventions are present-focused and action-oriented, targeting specific and well-defined problems.
- Interventions are developmentally appropriate to fit the developmental need of the adolescent.
- Interventions actively involve the family.
- Interventions are designed with long-term success in mind by empowering families to address the family needs as a whole.
The program consists of teams of three therapists and a supervisor. Our MST therapists receive continuous on-site supervision by an experienced masters-level mental health professional. Supervision and program consultation occur on a weekly basis. Therapists are selected based on strengths and attributes that will combine well with the program’s principles.
Multisystemic Therapy-Problem Sexual Behavior (MST-PSB) is an intensive treatment approach that addresses the underlying drivers responsible for problematic juvenile sexual behavior. The model ensures the safety of the client, victim and community while reducing the likelihood of future problem behaviors and criminal activity.
A clinical adaptation of standard Multisystemic Therapy, MST-PSB focuses on each domain of the youth: their home and family, schools and teachers, neighborhoods, courts and peers. MST-PSB is evidence-based and incorporates treatment interventions that are strongly supported and informed by research.
We provide this treatment for youth who are:
- between the ages of 10 and 17
- engaged in problem sexual behavior, including sexual offending
- at risk of out-of-home placement or custody
- residing in a home environment with at least one identified caregiver or where there is a planned return to a home environment
- not diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder, autistic spectrum disorder or serious developmental delays.
MST-PSB involves the entire family system where change is most effective. Caregivers and significant others are enlisted to play key roles as monitors and managers. Families must be willing to participate in problem sexual behavior treatment that also treats other delinquent behaviors such as truancy, academic problems, aggressive behaviors and substance use. Typically, therapists meet with families three to four times a week for a period of five to seven months.
During treatment, our MST-PSB therapists work to:
- develop safety plans to minimize the risk of the young person reoffending
- improve family communication and strengthen relationships
- gain clarity and consensus regarding circumstances surrounding previous offenses
- reduce parent and youth denial about sexual offenses and increase accountability
- identify and address aspects of the youth’s environment (belief systems/attitudes) that contribute to antisocial and problem sexual behaviors
- assist families in enabling the youth to develop the social skills that lead to healthy peer relationships
- educate about age-appropriate, normative sexual experiences
- assess the offenders own victimization, the impact of abuse and related treatment needs
- empower families to successfully manage the young person in the home environment, including sustainable safety planning, relapse prevention, clarification, reunification when appropriate, enhanced parenting skills and ensuring appropriate boundaries in the home and community
- help parents or caregivers build support networks
Our therapists are licensed and on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide individualized support, advocacy and interventions for youths and their families. We are the largest provider of MST-PSB services in North Carolina with two teams in Charlotte and another in Wilmington.
Our clinical staff generates a detailed report based upon the assessment that defines the impact of the trauma and the presence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The report features a “recommendations” section that addresses what techniques and therapies could be used to treat trauma-related symptoms in the child.
Trauma and the Neurosequential Model of Therapy (NMT)
What is Trauma?
Emotional and psychological trauma is the result of extraordinarily stressful events that shatter a child’s sense of security, making them feel frightened, helpless and isolated. Abuse and neglect are obvious sources of trauma, but divorce, lack of financial resources and loss can also create chronic stress. Children from every walk of life – including those from good, loving homes – can have mental challenges that our professionals can help overcome.
The brain develops sequentially, from the bottom up and from the inside out. There are four layers in the brain. Basic survival skills originate in the lower region of the brain (brain stem) and complex thinking comes from the top layer of the brain (cortex).
When a child experiences an adverse event, the brain stem is activated. If they remain in their lower brain too long, children can become mentally and emotionally stuck at the age when their trauma occurred. For example, if a child experienced prolonged stress when they were five, their emotional maturity can stay at that age even though their bodies continue to grow.
Kids operating in their brain stem often “act out” by being aggressive, argumentative, impulsive or irritable. Other symptoms can be lack of concentration, sleep disturbances, hypervigilance or flashbacks. They may run away, physically hurt themselves or others, withdraw or become overly emotional.
Neurosequential Model of Therapy (NMT)
Dr. Bruce Perry is the psychiatrist and internationally-recognized authority on children in crisis. His research on the connection between trauma and the growing brain in children lead him to develop the Neurosequential Model of Therapy. Alexander Youth Network created a model of care based on the science behind Dr. Perry’s evidence-based work. Alexander became the first NMT Flagship Agency in the nation in 2009.
NMT is a way to organize a child’s history and current functioning. It emphasizes the importance of positive, supportive relationships and nurturing experiences to help children stabilize, heal and grow. This therapy works on the most disorganized parts of the brain and re-trains the brain to react and process information in healthier ways.
At Alexander, NMT is a caring, focused approach that creates a more peaceful environment with fewer physical interventions. We don’t just control kids with challenging behaviors, we give them the respect, empathy and love to help them learn to self-regulate.
For more information on this topic, click here.
Specialized Clinical Assessments
A brain map is the product of a highly specialized assessment that tells us precisely what areas of the brain have not yet developed. It is not a diagnostic-imaging procedure. Brain mapping is conducted by Alexander’s licensed clinicians who are certified by the ChildTrauma Academy, an organization founded by Dr. Perry. The map is a colorful depiction of the brain, making it easier for everyone involved in the child’s care to see where trauma affected the brain. It serves as a blueprint for the experts at Alexander to prescribe individualized treatment and track a child’s progress.
Children process emotional trauma differently. Following a traumatic event, we focus on each child’s unique neurobiological response. Our psychiatric assessment is based upon the child’s stress response measured using the following tools:
- Alexander Youth Network’s Comprehensive Clinical Assessment that includes a clinical interview of child, guardian/caretaker
- Trauma Symptom Checklist for Children
- UCLA Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Index
During a psychological evaluation, we obtain information about a child’s general intellect and emotional function to determine a probable diagnosis and inform a basis of treatment.
We evaluate each child uniquely by using the following tools:
- Brief clinical interview
- Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-IV
- Wide Range Achievement Test
- Connors Behavior Checklist
- Rorschach Inkblot Technique
A complete psychological evaluation include the results of each individual test and a summary of findings. We offer a diagnostic impression (if requested) and psychiatric treatment recommendations.
Alexander Youth Network provides Diagnostic Assessment services to children and youth who are in need of a clinical determination for treatment. This service is available to those who are new to the mental health system and for whom a determination is needed as to the appropriate level of services to meet their needs. Alexander serves those who voluntarily seek help, as well as those who are ordered by the courts to receive a diagnostic assessment.
Call us today at (704) 228-3444. We can help.
Or fill out our form and we will reach out to you.