Hillcrest’s Treatment Model

This program’s treatment model and all of our treatment interventions are designed to provide trauma informed treatment to youth and their families. Through the lens of trauma informed care, we utilize the Skills for Life treatment model and Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI). Skills for Life is a strength-based, comprehensive treatment model designed by Hillcrest Educational Centers. TCI is an evidence-based crisis prevention and intervention system through Cornell University. Together, these two models encompass day-to-day treatment interventions, structures, routines, skills coaching/rehearsal opportunities, verbal interventions, and crisis support.


Skills for Life is Hillcrest’s treatment system. This is the system we use to help students reach their treatment goals. It is based on different types of therapy and interventions, with a focus on identifying the road block in your life and then learning skills to overcome these road blocks. Your staff will help you learn all about Skills for Life and will help you succeed in your Skills for Life goals.

Values and Expectations

 Skills for Life has specific values and expectations for both students and staff. We use these values and expectations to make decisions about programming, to address behavior concerns, and to recognize successes. Here is a list and definitions of our values and expectations.


  • Use safe words and actions toward yourself and others
  • Promote peacefulness
  • Provide predictability, fairness, and accountability


  • Respect yourself and others in every way
  • Respect your environment

Show healthy boundaries

  • Build healthy relationships


  • Accept responsibility for your decisions & actions
  • Build skills that will help you avoid harm to self or others
  • Make repairs when your decisions & actions are harmful to self or others


  • Think about what others are experiencing
  • Think about what others need, & what might be getting in the way of their goals
  • Work to be the best helper, peer, coach, employee, supervisor, friend, & citizen you can be

Realistic Expectations

  • Set realistic expectations & goals for yourself and others
  • Support one other in achieving these goals
  • Modify the environment in order to meet these expectations & goals, when needed


Take care of yourself in every way

Support each other in this process


  • Work together to bring the greatest success
  • Allow everyone’s voice to be heard

Personal Enrichment

  • Explore your interests and try healthy new things
  • Develop your talents
  • Celebrate the things that make all of us unique


Meetings and Documents

Here as some important meetings and documents in Skills for Life that you should know about.

Comprehensive Treatment Plan (CTP): While you are at Hillcrest, you will have goals to work toward. These goals are what make up your Comprehensive Treatment Plan (CTP). Your first CTP will be held within 15 days of your admission. You will then have a CTP meeting every month (or bi monthly as you are in the program longer) to review your goals, objectives, and progress in treatment. You, your family, your agency worker(s), and your Hillcrest staff will work together to set up goals, objectives, and skills to practice that are specific to your individual needs. Everyone on your treatment team will know your goals and will help you work on them throughout your stay at Hillcrest. When you have completed your goals, you will be ready for discharge.


Daily Logs: Every student at HEC has a daily log that staff use to manage your schedule, to guide staff on the things you are working on in your treatment, and to track your progress in building skills. At your CTP meeting, we work together to decide what things are written into your log. The logs use a rating scale of 1 through 5.

1 = skills assessment

2 = significant coaching

3 = moderate coaching

4 = minimal coaching

5 = independent skill use



Circle-Up: Your team/class will have a group discussion called circle-up at least 3 times a day (at the beginning of school, after school, and before bedtime). Circle up is an important part of your treatment. Staff will talk with you about how your day is going, review your skill practice, and talk about how much support you have needed during the day. Circle up is also used to problem-solve issues on the team, to learn about upcoming events for the team, and to recognize successes of the team.

Team Meetings: Once a week, the treatment team members meet to discuss students’ progress, review any requests students have made to the team, and to problem solve any team issues. This meeting is also where CTP meetings take place. Staff who attend team meeting are YDCs, clinicians, assistant supervisors or supervisors, a nurse, teacher or TA, and a campus administrator. The kinds of student requests reviewed at team meeting include requests to move up treatment levels, shopping requests, and privilege requests.

Student Community Meetings: Once a week, your team will have a student community meeting. They usually occur at the end of the school day. In addition to the YDC’s that work with your team, a clinician, and a campus supervisor/administrator will come to your meeting. The meeting is an opportunity to talk about team issues, review any requests that students have sent to the team meeting, and to recognize team successes.

Treatment Levels

Skills for Life includes a set of treatment levels. Each student is assigned to the “Welcoming Level” when admitted to Hillcrest. Each level has a specific set of treatment tasks for you to work on. When you achieve these tasks, you can request to move up to the next level. Here is a description of each level. Your program may also have specific treatment expectations for your levels that are based on a specific treatment issue. If so, these expectations are also included in this handbook or will be given to you by staff when you are admitted.


  • Get to know peers and staff, identifying some individuals that you are comfortable with and can accept help or support from.
  • Learn about and participate in basic parts of program, including school and residential programming as well as learning basic routines, expectations, and rules.
  • Participate in assessment and safety/treatment planning, culminating in an ICMP and treatment plan.
  • Begin to learn about DBT and other skills that can support your treatment through participation in individual and group therapy, and various skill practice opportunities.
  • Participate in a trauma assessment and help to identify sore spots, strengths, skills, and quick relief behaviors as part of the Trauma Informed Treatment Protocol.
  • Begin working with your family to identify realistic goals for treatment and discharge, including family reunification, if applicable.
  • Students cannot request to move up from Welcoming until all of their 45 day diagnostic assessments have been completed.


  • Maintain safe and healthy relationships with peers and staff, utilizing support and encouragement.
  • Participate in all parts of program to the best of your ability, including taking an active role in student community meetings and group therapies.
  • Identify academic and vocational goals for yourself and participate in steps toward reaching those goals.
  • Further develop/implement a safety plan and/or begin high risk relapse prevention plan.
  • Exhibit skill rehearsal and behaviors that meet the treatment objective identified in your CTP, including identifying specific skills that you have found effective. Commit to continuing to use these skills.
  • Continue to develop skills through participation in DBT group, high risk group therapy, individual therapy, and by participating in skill coaching by staff throughout the program.
  • Continue to engage in work in the Trauma Informed Treatment Protocol, and work that involves connecting quick relief behaviors to triggers and sore spots.
  • Continue family therapy process, committing to clear goals for family relationships and discharge.


  • Maintain safe and healthy relationships with peers and staff while participating fully in program.
  • Develop insight into the contributing factors, sore spots, triggers, and motivations that led to prior high risk behaviors and build these into safety and/or relapse prevention plans.
  • Be accountable for past and current high risk behaviors; make amends and utilize relapse prevention plans.
  • Exhibit skill rehearsal and behaviors that meet the treatment objectives identified in your CTP, including identifying specific skills that you have found effective. Commit to continuing to use these skills.
  • Continue to build awareness of how thoughts and feelings. Use this awareness to guide you through thoughtful decision making during situations.
  • Continue to engage in the Trauma Informed Treatment Protocol, including engaging in the process of meaning-making.
  • Continue work on academic and vocational goals, meeting IEP goals set in these areas.
  • Continue family work and discharge planning as identified through the CTP process, including work toward reunification or identified next placement.


  • Maintain safe & healthy relationships with peers & staff while participating fully in program, taking on a leadership role in the process of student community meetings, & generally serving as a “good citizen” of your team & HEC community.
  • Exhibit use safety & relapse prevention plans at all times.
  • Exhibit skill rehearsal & behaviors that meet the treatment objectives in your CTP, including identifying specific skills that you have found effective. Identify ways you can support your community through the use or role-modeling of these skills.
  • Develop & practice a set of values and life goals within your home community as well as in the HEC community. Participate in academic & vocational tasks that support these goals as indicated by meeting IEP goals & any tasks assigned to meet these goals during community/home visits.
  • Participate in all discharge planning meetings & events as an active member of the treatment team.
  • Exhibit skill rehearsal & behaviors that meet the treatment objective identified in your CTP, including utilizing these skills consistently at HEC & in your home community.
  • Continue trauma treatment & the process of meaning-making.
  • Complete a community repair/restitution project, if applicable.
  • Continue in family therapy, if applicable.


  • Demonstrate safety/accountability, character, skills, understanding, and connection through all of your behaviors
  • Internalize safety and relapse prevention plans
  • Continue active participation in all parts of your discharge planning and continue monitoring its implementation
  • Mentor others, showing your skills as a leader and positive role model
  • Complete a community enhancement project
  • Educate family and/or next placement on safety and relapse prevention plans, supports needed, your skills, understandings, values, goals, and important connections.



 Privileges: Each campus has a specific set of privileges for each treatment level. As you build skills and make progress in treatment, you will be showing your treatment team and your family that you are ready to manage situations with less and less support. When you need less support, you can access more privileges. The specific list of privileges for your program is included in this handbook.

Privileges for Welcoming

  • Participate in select on campus clubs (Magic, Drumming and Beauty club)
  • Scheduled program activities (tv, board games, cards, outdoor sports, coop room, etc)
  • Remote control cars in gym or outside
  • Campus MP3 player with 15 songs from campus library as approved by activities assistant
  • Personal CDs converted to MP3 Player
  • Small makeup kit that is kept in student lockers. May use makeup in common area or bathroom with door open (Age 13+) (see contraband list for approved makeup)
  • Jewelry, must be kept in locker when not worn (see contraband list for approved jewelry)
  • Use of musical instruments in Co-op room (must be stored in laundry room or supes office)
  • No off campus recreational trips. Medical, legal, academic and church trips to be considered based on safety and with Admin approval only.

Privileges for Commitment

  • All above mentioned privileges
  • Nature club, Fishing Club, and Cooking Club
  • Approved handheld electronic video games (must not have internet access or camera installed and be signed out through activities)
  • Eligible for on campus jobs as approved by treatment team (see vocational levels)
  • Eligible for off all campus trips as approved by treatment team – subject to supervisor approval
  • $10 withdrawal from student checking account (can petition for additional money through manager’s meeting for a specific purchase. Request must be completed by Tuesday.)
  • Intramural sports/Traveling sports team (basketball, softball, etc.)
  • Approved Jewelry can be kept in room
  • Additional makeup stored in locker (Age 13+) (full makeup kit vs. small bag for Welcoming)
  • NYPUM program
  • Can petition to use musical instruments on dorm (must be stored in laundry room or supes office)

Privileges for Responsibility

  • All above mentioned privileges
  • Eligible for Responsibility Level vocational jobs (see vocational levels)
  • Half hour late bedtime (in room)
  • $20 withdrawal from student checking account (can petition for additional money through manager’s meeting for a specific purchase. Request must be completed by Tuesday.)
  • PG 13 movies based on supervisor approval (Age 13+)
  • Use of campus DVD Player (signed out by Activities Department)
  • Plant in room
  • Personal musical instruments can be stored in their bedroom (locked in closet when not in use)
  • Art supplies can be stored in their bedroom
  • Crocheting/Knitting using plastic looms and needles in Common area (stored in student lockers)
  • May purchase DVDs and CDs and can store them in lockers

Privileges for Community

  • All above mentioned privileges
  • Personal DVD Player or handheld electronics stored in room
  • Personal charger kept in room
  • Can petition team to purchase a basic Kindle or Nook (e-reader that does not have internet access)
  • Can petition for a passive pet (fish in bowl in bedroom, etc.)
  • $30 withdrawal from student checking account (can petition for additional money through manager’s meeting for a specific purchase. Request must be completed by Tuesday.)
  • Can petition team for independent transitions with staff communication before and after movement (would need to reapply after unsafe incidents)
  • Participation in off campus volunteering (beyond team or classroom activities)
  • Off campus job with staff supervision at select local business that have campus approval (i.e. Taft Farm)

Privileges for Leadership

  • All above mentioned privileges
  • Able to purchase TV for use in their single bedroom
  • Can petition for additional electronics
  • Eligible for off campus job in the local community (can petition team and admins for preferred sites)
  • Can petition for late bedtime
  • $50 withdrawal from student checking account (can petition for additional money through manager’s meeting for a specific purchase. Request must be completed by Tuesday.)
  • Lunch off campus with an administrator and staff of their choice
  • Petition for independent time (can be approved for 15 minutes/day in an approved location that is on camera)
  • Petition for use of public transportation to approved destinations such as public library, to manage bank account