• Addressing the needs of adolescents: an exploration of treatment interventions for anxiety disorders

      Lunceford, Carolyn; Renes, Susan L.; Simpson, Joni A.; Gifford, Valerie M. (2016)
      This project explores various cognitive behavioral techniques that may be used for the treatment of anxiety disorders in adolescents. Many adolescents experience anxiety disorders and providing treatment can be challenging. Mindfulness, relaxation, exposure, and music have all been shown to be useful techniques. Short-term treatment, incentives, and parental involvement were also found to be useful. The value of friendships, level of motivation, and drive towards independence should be taken into consideration when working with adolescents. This project includes a curriculum intended for small groups of adolescents with the goal of improving anxiety symptoms. The curriculum will assist counselors in both in-patient and out-patient settings as well as provide resources for middle and high school counselors.
    • Assisting adolesecents transitioning from residential treatment to public school

      Church, Sylvia; Cook, Christine; Morotti, Allan; Simpson, Joni (2017-05)
      This research project aims to aid residential treatment facilities and school personnel in recognizing the importance of transition planning, developing strategies to assist a successful transition from inpatient residential treatment centers to the students next school, while also taking into account adolescent perspectives on their needs during this transition. This paper introduces the importance of addressing education while in treatment and explores barriers to aftercare and current aftercare models using an ecological model to recognize how multiple systems interact in shaping the experiences of students. Included in this paper is a small pilot study of three students that attended a residential treatment program at the Boys and Girls Home of Alaska. It is important to note that since interviews were conducted, the Boys and Girls Home of Alaska no longer operates in the State of Alaska and is now under new ownership. The application resulting from this project is a presentation for both treatment and school staff.
    • Continuing care groups: long term treatment of substance use disorders

      Foote, Olivia; Renes, Susan L.; Cook, Christine R.; Henze-Nelson, Brenda (2014)
      Substance use disorders are chronic diseases that affect individuals, families, and communities. These illnesses frequently require several courses of treatment to achieve abstinence. Inpatient chemical dependency treatment, followed by continuing care, increases abstinence rates regardless of the interventions used within the continuing care program. The largest barrier to successful continuing care programs appears to be patients' attendance and participation. This project aims to create a continuing care program that focuses on increasing patients' attendance adherence in order to support them through their first year of recovery.
    • Equine assisted therapy: supporting treatment for substance use disorders in Alaska

      Gelvin-Smith, Claire; Renes, Susan; Gifford, Valerie; Jonaitis, Aldona (2017-04)
      The State of Alaska demonstrates exceedingly high rates of interpersonal violence, child neglect, depression, and drug related arrests when compared with national rates. Substance use disorder is often linked with instances of interpersonal violence, child neglect, depression and judicial consequences. An equine assisted therapy program could provide support for the treatment of substance use disorders in Alaska. This project asks one basic question, "What benefits could an equine assisted therapy program provide for individuals in a level II, Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) in interior Alaska?" Currently, no residential or level II treatment programs for substance use disorder in Alaska offer equine assisted therapy. Examples of successful equine assisted therapy programs in the contiguous United States are presented as models for an equine assisted therapy program in Alaska. Resiliency theory is introduced as a theoretical framework that balances goals and objectives of both level II substance use treatment and equine assisted therapy. Participants might experience benefits from an equine assisted therapy group related to immediate feedback, opportunities for learning, opportunities for trust-building, healthy relationships, learning new ways of dealing with trauma, relationships, confronting fears, and effectively working through new challenges.
    • Examining the feasibility of implementing a matrix model intensive outpatient program in a remote Alaskan setting

      Ponziano, Frank; Gifford, Valerie; Renes, Susan; McMorrow, Samantha (2015)
      Significance: The Matrix Model is possibly the only evidenced-based, intensive outpatient approach for addiction that has been shown to be effective at treating addiction. However, the model has not been evaluated for its effectiveness in remote Alaskan settings, such as Fairbanks, Alaska. Specific Aim: This study examined the feasibility of the Matrix Model compared to Treatment as Usual (TAU) in Fairbanks, Alaska. TAU is defined as any other outpatient substance abuse treatment (SAT) other than Matrix Model treatment program. The model's philosophy will be examined, and a method for determining its feasibility for implementation in Fairbanks, Alaska, will be outlined. This project will provide a method for an agency to examine their readiness and philosophical compatibility for the Matrix Model. This research intends to explore contextual variables, such as environment, culture, policy, participant barriers, funding, and organizational philosophy. Methods: This study has reviewed the literature regarding evidence-based, intensive outpatient programs, other treatment philosophies, and the contextual variables that affect program implementation in the literature. Moreover, this study provides an analysis of the Matrix Model versus TAU to help guide a Fairbanks agency considering Matrix Model Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). IOP is a 12 to 16 week intensive outpatient SAT that meets for 9 or more hours per week that integrates individual, family, and group counseling along with weekly drugs screens. Implications: This project aims to contribute to the body of knowledge regarding the Matrix Models effectiveness compared to TAU in remote Alaskan settings.
    • Forming a therapeutic response to adolescent impulsivity

      Hansen, Kira M.; Gifford, Valerie; McMorrow, Samantha; Daku, Mike (2017-05)
      Utilizing a biopsychosocial perspective, this paper addresses the impact, causes, and treatment of adolescent impulsivity. Specifically, the defining features of impulsivity are identified, and the implications that impulsivity has on adolescent criminal behaviors, treatment participation, and quality of life measures are addressed. As a result of this paper's findings, a therapeutic integration of Dialectical Behavior Therapy and working memory training is proposed in order to meet treatment needs that have gone unaddressed, and this integrated model is presented in the form of a group treatment manual.
    • A guide to school-based suicide prevention in Alaska secondary schools

      Sprague, Anna; Cook, Christine; Gifford, Valerie; Simpson, Joni (2014)
      The purpose of this project is to provide education professionals in the state of Alaska with a practical resource for understanding and distinguishing between evidence-based, best practice, and currently employed school based suicide prevention programs. Programs selected for inclusion were evidence-based and best practice programs recognized by professional organizations including the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices (NREPP), and are currently listed as accepted programs and resources by the State of Alaska Department of Education and Early Childhood. Programs were evaluated for format, accessibility, research and reviews, and cultural considerations. Nine programs, with 5 others mentioned not meeting all criteria, are presented in a website for easy sharing of information.
    • Integrating family systems into substance use treatment

      Burke, Danielle M.; Renes, Susan; Gifford, Valerie; Wilson, Hilary (2016)
      It is important to understand the powerful influence of loved ones in the recovery process. This influence can help encourage substance users to receive treatment, help them remain engaged in treatment, and allow those being treated to receive understanding from their loved ones they might not have received without this treatment component. Providing effective substance use treatment to families should take different aspects into consideration, including family dynamics, cultural aspects, and using the best treatment methods available. Treatment providers may not know how to incorporate social supports into specific treatment interventions. Providing information to providers and describing how to incorporate friends and family into an individual's treatment may enhance many substance use disorder treatment programs.
    • Outpatient care in Fairbanks: supporting people with schizophrenia

      Wiley, Alex; Renes, Susan; Gifford, Valerie; Harrison, Lynn (2015)
      With the current lack of residential treatment facilities, long-term hospitalization, and mental health agencies that can fully support people with schizophrenia in Fairbanks, Alaska, there are many ethical concerns that must be addressed to best support clients with schizophrenia. The ethical considerations present in the success of outpatient care include: a) promoting the welfare of clients, b) utilizing plans that offer reasonable promise of success, c) understanding the limits imposed on the support networks of these clients, and d) the limitations of employment opportunities for these clients in an outpatient setting. Reviewing literature on the experiences of people with schizophrenia revealed three stages of treatment normally experienced: a) acute care, b) transition care, and c) chronic care. Areas most impacted for people with schizophrenia are socialization and work, memory and intelligence, suicide risk and other disorders, and interactions with family, friends and the community. In Fairbanks, Alaska where weather hinders socializing and available services are limited, building many strong support resources is incredibly important to give people with schizophrenia the best chance of recovery and a stable quality of life.
    • Restorative practices as tools for reducing the outcome data gaps in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District

      Kettle, Anne; Gifford, Valerie; McMorrow, Samantha; Repetto, Elizabeth (2018)
      Childhood adversity, toxic stress and trauma have physical and mental health impacts on individuals and affect academic and career success. The result of which may present as challenging or off-task behavior in the classroom. Trauma-informed techniques are being implemented to address these challenges in schools and classrooms across the United States. Restorative practices are proving to serve as successful tools for mitigating the impact of adversity on students and build a more cohesive and successful school atmosphere. There is potential for restorative practices to be used by school counselors as part of a comprehensive school counseling program to work to close gaps in the rates of graduation, suspension/expulsion and attendance between students from the majority population and those from traditionally marginalized populations. Based on a review of the literatures of trauma-informed schools, restorative practices and school counselor roles, a presentation and tool-kit has been developed for the Fairbanks North Star Borough school counselors. This tool-kit builds awareness around the impact of trauma, restorative practices and provides resources to support their implementation in this district via school counselors.
    • Spiritual coping in counseling with trauma survivors

      Bronson, Damaris; Renes, Susan; Gifford, Valerie; Swisher, Kimberly (2016)
      Instances of past trauma are common in clients who are seeking help working through feelings of anxiety and depression. This research project will investigate the use of spiritual coping with clients who have experienced trauma involving intimate partner violence. The literature will identify areas that are important to consider when working with this population. Spirituality will be explored and along with Existentialism serve as the framework for working with trauma survivors. Due to the concentration of Alaska Native and American Indian individuals in Alaska, culture specific interventions are described. The application for this project, based on a review of the literature, is a training for master's level counseling students designed to educate future counselors about spiritual coping.
    • Study of brain injury and neuroregenerative effects of D-cycloserine using an asphyxial cardiac arrest rat model

      Combs, Vélvá M.; Drew, Kelly L.; Harris, Michael B.; Bult-Ito, Abel (2013-05)
      Cardiac arrest (CA) affects over 300,000 Americans annually and results in severe brain injury (impaired motility, memory loss, or death) due to poor recovery. Over stimulation of glutamatergic N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) channel activation, allows Ca² ions to enter cells, triggers a cascade of excitotoxic events and eventual neuronal death, but down-regulation of NMDAR post arrest may contribute to progressive injury. Previous studies have indicated that NMDARs are down-regulated within hours to days after resuscitation, therefore re-stimulation of NMDARs after CA should improve neurological outcome. The purpose of this thesis was to: 1.) Implement an in vivo asphyxial CA (ACA) rat model at UAF to reproduce CA seen clinically in prenatal/pediatric populations, and 2.) Test the hypothesis that partial NMDAR agonist (D-cycloserine, DCS) would improve recovery from neuronal injury. Male Sprague Dawley rats (250-330g) were administered a low dose of DCS (10mg/kg, IP) 24 and 48hr after resuscitation from either 6 or 8-min ACA. Behavioral Neurological Deficit Scores (NDS) were taken at 2hr and daily for 7 days after ACA to assess injury. Histopathology assessed CA1 hippocampal neuronal injury. DCS had no effect on neurological improvement but the ACA model produced significant brain injury in rats regardless of CA duration.
    • Uncovering and enhancing motivation in a residential substance abuse treatment setting

      Morris, Alexandria V.; Renes, Susan; Gifford, Valerie; McMorrow, Samantha (2015)
      This project addresses how to enhance motivation in a residential substance abuse setting in order to encourage completion of treatment. This project discusses contingency management, music therapy, family therapy, and motivational interviewing and how they enhance motivation. Contingency management and music therapy were both found to be helpful in increasing motivation in residential settings. Family therapy was also found to increase motivation, but at smaller levels. Motivational interviewing, which is used by many therapists, also enhances motivation in a consumer and is considered an evidenced based practice. The project provides a motivational curriculum for use in a six-week residential treatment program. The curriculum incorporates all four areas found in the literature that can be used to enhance motivation and to uncover motivation and help to engage consumers in treatment.
    • Urge surfing for acute and post-acute recovery populations

      Todhunter, Max David; Gifford, Valerie; Sandberg, Patricia; Dahl, Heather (2017-05)
      Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention urge surfing is an intervention that promotes distress tolerance through acceptance of and non-reactivity to urges and cravings. While the urge surfing intervention is effective with participants in out-patient and early recovery settings, for which it was designed, there is no research literature related to its efficacy for clients receiving higher level of care services during early abstinence and recovery. Clients undergoing residential treatment for substance use concerns are likely to experience difficulty with a cognition based approach such as urge surfing, due to cognitive dysfunction related to post-acute withdrawal in early recovery. A modification of the urge surfing intervention that replaces an abstract cognition dependent visualization with a focus on immediate and concrete somatic distress creates the potential of making it useful for populations in early recovery.
    • Using equine-facilitated psychotherapy to treat eating disorders

      Donofry, Susana; Cook, Christine; Healy, Joanne; Harrison, Lynn (2014)
      Eating disorders are pervasive mental disorders that can be accompanied by significant psychological symptoms and comorbidities, such as: suicide, anxiety, and depression. The binging and purging behaviors that often accompany eating disorders can result in significant medical issues such as dehydration, heart arrhythmias, seizures, kidney problems, and death. Eating disorders affect males and females alike, as well as adults and children, and are most predominant among Western cultures. Eating disorders often involve binge eating episodes, periods of starvation, and purging behaviors such as self-induced vomiting, laxative use, and excessive exercise. Treatment options for decreasing the symptoms of eating disorders include: pharmacological interventions, psychological interventions, exercise interventions, and equine facilitated psychotherapy (utilizes psychological interventions in combination with equine activities). This literature review provides a basis for a PowerPoint presentation that states the benefits of adding equine-facilitated psychotherapy to the list of top research priorities, as well as describes the benefits and limitations of this newer form of therapy.
    • We need to talk and the nation is watching: a textual analysis of drug interventions

      Denhalter, Bailey J.; Richey, Jean; Sager, Kevin; Taylor, Karen (2012-05)
      Addiction is something that millions of people struggle with. Many are unable to or do not realize that they have a problem. Previously kept as an embarrassing family secret, drug interventions have gone Hollywood. The entertainment industry began publicizing these once private affairs for the nation in the early 2000's; unfortunately, publicity does not ensure a problem will be addressed in the appropriate manner. Drug interventions are typically conducted in secret, away from the prying eyes of neighbors or community members. By a stroke of genius or insanity, the producers at A & E realized the American public's fascination with the dark underbelly of society and televised the taboo phenomenon of interventions. The purpose of this qualitative study is to identify emergent themes through the comparison and textual analysis of multiple episodes of A & E Television Networks series Intervention, focusing on family participation in illicit drug interventions. These televised interventions offer a rare and unique glimpse into the processes and consequences for those involved. The viewer is given the opportunity to observe the effects an intervention may have on the family unit, as well as on individuals.