Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Gratitude from Chrysalis Staff

A few of the Chrysalis staff share what they're thankful for in regards to being a part of the Chrysalis community:

 “I'm thankful that I get to be a part of the music program at Chrysalis. I love teaching girls about music and encouraging their endeavors to learn an instrument (or two!), to have the courage to sing in front of a crowd, or to write and compose their own music. I'm thankful that I've been able to see how music impacts students’ lives in a positive way. I'm also thankful for my work as the case manager at the Cottage. We have an incredible group of girls here and our smaller community feels very warm and almost like a family. Lastly, I'm thankful to live in a place where I can spend my weekends outside doing the things I love.” – Michelle

“I'm grateful to be teaching this group of girls and watching them grow and mature not only in their academic skills, but in so many other ways as well. It is not only a responsibility I take seriously, but a joy and a privilege I cherish. I am thankful for fellow teachers who passionately desire to help kids and do odd and often thankless tasks to show that love and care. I have the perfect teaching job in so many ways: small class size, encouraging support, and positive one on one with girls and staff. What a blessing!” – Darla

“I'm thankful to be a part of a program that believes in girls and helps facilitate lasting change in families. I'm thankful that running is a part of my daily work responsibilities. I'm thankful for the table fellowship around meal time on campus. I'm thankful for co-workers who have become good friends. I'm thankful for collaboration with other professionals and programs. I'm thankful to live in beautiful northwest Montana where I truly feel like myself.” – Carrie

“I am grateful for the team of therapists I get to work with, and how we collaborate to take care of the girls whose parents have entrusted them to our care. And I'm grateful for our mountains!” – Haley

“I am thankful for being a part of a dedicated team who are helping families to heal and to witness young women discover their true selves. I feel honored to take care of many of the girls’ needs so they feel loved and cared for. I am grateful that I get to do it in such a beautiful place!” – Leslie

“I am so thankful to have the opportunity every day to spend time with the passionate and smart young women at Chrysalis. I am thankful to have a job that allows me to teach young women about how to be confident playing in the woods and mountains of Montana. I am so thankful to walk down the road by our house and see the gorgeous Whitefish Mountain Range covered in snow. I am thankful to live and work in Montana!”– Ashton

“I am so thankful for Chrysalis and the blessing it has been in my life! I am thankful for the caring staff. I am thankful for the opportunity to meet incredible students and their families from around the country. I am thankful for the beautiful setting in which we have the privilege to work.” - Vicki

"I am thankful for the magic and healing of human connection that surrounds me every day at Chrysalis. I am grateful for the resilience of the human spirit, and our capacity to appreciate joy and wonder that is always surrounding us if we will but look about. I am grateful for the amazing people who work at Chrysalis and have dedicated themselves to helping girls and their families to heal. I am thankful for the trust parents have placed in our amazing team. I am especially thankful to our co-founder, Kenny Pannell, who has imagined, created, lived and breathed "Chrysalis" over the last fifteen years by my side. I am grateful for our fabulous, supportive partners at InnerChange. I am thankful for all of my relatives and family, including those extended Chrysalis family members." - Mary

“I've always thought that Thanksgiving is arguably the best holiday of them all. No gifts to buy during an overly commercialized shopping frenzy. No crowds to fight through in every place where people gather. No confusion about what the holiday is really about. No shock and regret when the January credit card statements arrive. And, no extra weight to carry around for months since I always display great restraint when it comes to holiday eating at Thanksgiving. (I think this might be where people insert smiling little faces to suggest intended humor.)

At this time of year, I always feel enormous gratitude for my parents and grandparents, who joined together and sacrificed to make my life truly meaningful in every possible way. Their great expectations helped me realize who I was in the context of my own, what values were necessary to shape a healthy life and lifestyle, and what I might become in terms of the larger community of which I am a part. I love and appreciate them for those critical inputs.

At the other end of the family spectrum are my children, who are bright, beautiful, and full of promise. I'm so grateful that they are healthy, hard-working, kind, and generous of spirit. I couldn't be more proud of them than I am.

I also feel grateful for all the good people who have collaborated with us for the past 15 years to make our little school a winning place to live and work. I hear from our former students and their parents almost every week, and the message is always one of thanksgiving. We have facilitated great change in the lives of so many fine young people, and the futures that they've embraced are full and rich because of the powerful investments made by our remarkable staff. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

And lastly, I would be entirely remiss if I didn't acknowledge the reservoir of gratitude that I feel for my beautiful Mary, whose devotion to this place, these people, and her family, make all the struggle and strain of our chosen life totally worthwhile. She's the best. She's my favorite person in the world. And I thank God everyday for her presence and partnership in my life.

We are truly blessed!  Happy Thanksgiving to one and all,” Kenny



Monday, November 18, 2013

Understanding Attachment Disorder

The Father of Attachment Theory, John Bowlby, described attachment as the “lasting psychological connections between human beings.” The way in which humans attach to others has been proven to influence the way an individual relates to others, themselves, and the world. Understanding attachment serves as a solid foundation for understanding the development of ineffective coping strategies and the underlying dynamics of a person's emotional health and difficulties. Research has found that attachment style impacts behaviors throughout life. Failure to form secure attachments early in life can have a negative impact on behavior in later childhood and throughout adulthood. Disruption in the parent-child relationship, adoption, and early trauma are all factors that negatively impact an individual’s attachment style.

Here at Chrysalis, we understand the importance of attachment and the devastating effects unhealthy attachment styles can have on individuals and their families. Many of the girls that come to us have experienced attachment disruptions early in their lives. These situations have impacted their ability to connect with others, form a healthy self-esteem and self-concept, manage their own emotional states, and form healthy and secure relationships. We treat attachment issues by helping individuals understand how past experiences with caregivers, significant others, and previous life experiences have shaped our students’ coping patterns. We show them how these patterns work to protect them initially but then later contribute to their feelings of distress.

Chrysalis seeks to heal attachment wounds by working with the individual to find alternative ways to meet their unmet needs and learn how to form long lasting healthy attachment bonds to themselves, others, and the world around them. We hope to not only modify their ineffective coping strategies, but also better understand the underlying unmet needs that are satisfied by their ineffective coping strategies. We want to help them learn alternative ways to satisfy their psychological or emotional needs. Our focus on relationships and providing consistent, warm, and nurturing care creates a safe place to look at attachment issues, begin to heal old wounds, and find healthy patterns of attachment.

Remember, there is hope for healthy attachments and relationships. To find out more about how we work with attachment disorder at Chrysalis, call us at 888-317-9297 or visit our website,

By: Amy McClung, LMFT and LPC

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Chrysalis' Leadership Retreats

Dear Students and Families-

Hope this letter finds you all well. As it has been said, “Teamwork can be summed up in five short words: We believe in each other.”
The first leadership experience this past summer, held in Glacier National Park, was a success for the Chrysalis community. This initial retreat gave students the opportunity to be recognized for their positive contributions throughout the year; we would love to keep this positive momentum rolling.  The staff, teachers, clinicians and directors feel it is both imperative and beneficial to continue gathering select students, who are demonstrating the characteristics listed below, for seasonal retreats throughout the year as an acknowledgement of their positive efforts to strengthen both themselves and the Chrysalis community.  
A leadership criteria has been established with input from staff and house parents, school teachers, adventure staff, clinical staff and Kenny and Mary, that will hopefully help you clearly understand the purpose and context of these retreats. We want to illustrate what we are looking for from our students in order to gain an invitation to one of these retreats. The purpose of these retreats, in short, is to help each student attending Chrysalis strive to be intentional and purposeful in their personal, relational, educational, and community leadership.
Leadership has been defined as the ability to motivate yourself and others to accomplish a common goal through a united effort. Every student at Chrysalis has the potential to not only be the leader of their own lives, but also have the capacity to provide leadership for those they see struggling in the community. Leadership develops through direct involvement with family, school and the community.
So, what will it take to get an invitation to the next retreat, you might be thinking?  The staff at Chrysalis will be looking for student leaders who are demonstrating the following characteristics:
  1. Responsibility: Staying on top of her daily responsibilities in all facets of the program.
  2. Optimism: Maintaining a positive attitude and helping students who may be struggling with negativity develop a healthier concept of their circumstances, opportunities and potential for success.
  3. Resiliency: Consistently turning obstacles into challenges, and overcomes these challenges through perseverance, determination and hardwork.
  4. Organization and focus: Maintaining an organized living space and consistently completing tasks; is able to simplify even complicated tasks into achievable goals.
  5. Diligence: The student who is willing to complete a task to its conclusion.
  6. Delegation: Embracing the support of others; not afraid, embarrassed or resistant to ask for and rely on help from others in the community.
  7. Encouragement: Openly and enthusiastically acknowledging the accomplishments of other students who are struggling to do well in the Chrysalis community.
  8. Trustworthiness: Earning the respect of the community through consistent leadership characteristics.
  9. Leadership Development: Willing to participate in activities that promote and encourage their own personal sense of what is right and good for themselves and the Chrysalis community.
  10. Accountability and Authenticity: Willing to hold themselves and others accountable, not just because it is expected, but because they sincerely believe it is the right thing to do for themselves, their peers and the health of the community as a whole.
It’s important to note that we don’t require that a student be doing all these things exceptionally well at this moment in order to be invited to a leadership retreat.  That would be unrealistic, of course, because those are very high standards that few people completely achieve in a lifetime.  We are, however, looking for girls who are working in these directions, demonstrating a capacity to grow toward this kind of excellence in everything that they do, and who have a willingness to commit to the process.  If someone is willing to try very hard to get there, we want to do everything we can to help them accomplish that goal. Leadership starts with involvement! Students, involve yourself with your school, with your community, and perhaps most importantly, become involved and attuned with your self. Parents, encourage your daughters in this direction. It could make all the difference.
The Chrysalis staff looks forward to helping each Chrysalis student achieve their leadership potential and witnessing their sense of accomplishment upon receiving their invitation to the next leadership retreat.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

2013 Parent Workshop

In order to help families be successful at home, Chrysalis has always focused on the needs of our parents, as well as our students. With that focus in mind, Chrysalis holds a Parent Workshop each fall. This three day workshop offers parents a wealth of information about child development, family dysfunction, and overall family healing. They also participate in group exercises to experience certain relationship concepts and then sit down in small groups to discuss their experience. . These small groups are facilitated by experienced parents who have been through the workshop previously. Parents explored topics including family systems, the etiology of relational injury, Erickson's Psycho-social Developmental Stages, negative belief systems, trust, negative control mechanisms, and how to give and receive feedback.

Twenty-five parents participated in our workshop this year. These parents represented seventeen of our current students.  Overall, the parents found it very impactful and exhausting. Since this workshop focuses strictly on the parents, they learned a lot about themselves and what they contribute to their individual family system. They went away with a new perspective on how their family functions in a healthy or unhealthy way, and what they can do to change it.  We encourage parents to do their own therapeutic work at home while their daughter is working on herself on campus. At Chrysalis we know that research shows that if the student does her work while away from the home, but the family system does not change, the student will likely quickly return to her old behaviors and patterns.

In conclusion, the 2013 Parent Workshop was a huge success. However, what these parents reported as being the most helpful were the small group interactions, getting to know other parents, and learning about feedback. Several parents remarked that now they know what their daughters go through on a regular basis with groups and feedback, and were amazed at their resiliency. The workshop concluded with a touching and heartfelt closing ceremony with the students. 

Our next workshop will be the Family Workshop in the spring. This will be a fabulous opportunity to include students, parents and even siblings. For more information about Chrysalis’ Parent Workshops, call our admissions department at 888-317-9297.