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Devereux MA/RI staff discuss gender diversity and dialectical behavior therapy at ACRC conference


Devereux Massachusetts/Rhode Island Director of Clinical Services Ashley Warhol and Campus Administrator Bernadette Conneely shared information about gender diversity and dialectical behavior therapy at the Association of Children’s Residential Centers’ conference in New Orleans.

Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Massachusetts and Rhode Island Director of Clinical Services Ashley Warhol, Psy.D., and Campus Administrator Bernadette Conneely recently shared valuable information about gender diversity and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) with children’s residential services providers at the 63rd annual Association of Children’s Residential Centers (ACRC) conference in New Orleans.

Warhol presented a workshop on promoting inclusion and best practices for transgender youth in residential care. In addition, Warhol and Conneely shared their research, which was conducted along with Devereux Massachusetts and Rhode Island Coordinator of Diagnostic Services and Clinical Training Rachel Schein, Psy.D., (via a poster session) on the effectiveness of DBT, a form of cognitive behavior therapy, with adolescent males in residential treatment.

“We were thrilled to have the opportunity to present critical information about two key topics at this year’s ACRC conference,” said Warhol. “These types of events are essential to advancing the field of residential care. By showcasing the innovative work we do at Devereux, we have the ability to promote – and potentially influence – the delivery of high-quality services and supports to youth across the country and around the world.”

Promoting inclusion and best practices

Warhol’s workshop provided attendees with an overview of best practice guidelines for working with transgender and gender diverse youth in residential care, while exploring barriers that residential agencies often face with licensors and other state mandates. Warhol also discussed ways in which organizations can assess and improve policies and procedures to infuse trans-affirming practices into their daily operations.

“I explained how Devereux has officially adopted the Gender Affirmative Model, developed by the American Psychological Association, to better support transgender and gender expansive youth in our care,” Warhol shared. “Attendees were eager to learn about this emerging treatment of choice that focuses on the resilience and overall wellness of children and their families.”

DBT and adolescent males

Warhol, Conneely and Schein’s research poster detailed their findings (on the effectiveness of DBT) from a study that examined 12 adolescent males with emotional and behavioral disorders. The conclusion: DBT contributed to a decrease in challenging behaviors, including aggression, self-harm, restraints and major risk events, among adolescent males in residential treatment.

“Representatives from other children’s residential treatment centers were fascinated with our findings and wanted to learn more about the many benefits of DBT, as well as our certification process,” Warhol said. “A total of 35 clinicians across Devereux are currently undergoing intensive DBT training to help the individuals we serve manage their emotions and behaviors more effectively. The implementation of DBT is just one example of the unwavering commitment of our organization to provide innovative, evidence-based and trauma-focused care to youth and adults with emotional, behavioral and cognitive differences.”

Learn more about Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health and how it supports the LGBTQ community.


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