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Yellowbrick Residence

Jesse Viner, MD
Founder and Executive Medical Director


Professional, Community, & Individual Responsibility

Membership in the community is a responsibility and privilege for all residents and staff.  The treatment community, involving all residents and staff, is available as a supportive but not supervisory resource.  Admission is entirely voluntary and adequate motivation and capacity to make use of the treatment is evaluated within the assessment process.  Residents are expected to attend all treatments, and to learn how to accept help and to invite assistance from others to diminish symptoms.  However, the treatment community does not assume responsibility for residents’ choices.  It is accepted that residents may have periods of symptomatic behavior.  Through periodic treatment review, Quality Assurance, and consultation, including residents and staff, it will be determined if persistent symptomatic behavior represents an inability to further benefit from Yellowbrick at that time.  Acknowledgement of this and parting with referral is preferable to efforts at coercive control of behavior and personal choice.

Personal safety is considered an individual responsibility with the role of professionals and the community being to provide support for the resident’s struggle to maintain their self-regulation.  All explicit threats to safety will result in transfer to the Northshore University Health Systems Hospital Emergency Room for psychiatric evaluation.  The Yellowbrick Residence community assumes no responsibility for individual choices or behavior resulting in self harm beyond that of an informed, involved Good Samaritan.

Yellowbrick is not licensed as a hospital and is not an acute care setting.  While residents may be struggling with distressing experiences and problematic behaviors, Yellowbrick is not indicated for patients whose psychiatric or medical condition requires skilled or nursing supervision for behavioral control or safety.  Medications are stored in the Community Room if medication support is required or a secure individual safe.  Symptomatic behaviors are anticipated and will be active as a focus in treatment.  It is required that these behaviors do not place the resident or others at risk for personal or medical safety.  On site Residence Resource staff will communicate with professional staff to determine if residents require temporary referral to Evanston Northshore University Health Systems Hospital for assessment on an urgent or emergency basis.  A Yellowbrick Residence Resource staff member will be on-site as an adult resource at all times.  A senior leadership person is always on call.

The intent is for Yellowbrick to function as a normative community setting where residents aged 18 and older are fully responsible and active simultaneously in their treatment and their lives in the Evanston area.  Experiences in the Yellowbrick and surrounding Evanston community are to be processed within the treatment.  Professional staff and the Yellowbrick community provide an intensive, skilled, and supportive platform of relationships and growth opportunities as an alternative to the behavioral control required in other settings.  The Yellowbrick culture encourages 3 hours a week of volunteer work in Evanston.  Many residents will additionally be working or attending school part- time.  The Life Strategies Program is scheduled into early afternoon with specialty services such as eating disorders, trauma recovery, and substance abuse.

Yellowbrick Treatment Program

    • Psychiatric illnesses are complex, derived from and maintained by multiple (biological, developmental, psychological, systems, and cultural) sources and therefore require multiple interventions directed at several levels of interacting systems.
    • Treatment relationships create a safe context within which to authorize, empower, instruct, and support the experience and capacity for owning and assuming self directed personal responsibility.  Successful treatment requires the development of intimate, emotionally resonating attachments.
    • Treatment is prescribed following careful collaboration with individuals and families resulting in comprehensive assessment including: psychiatric evaluation, neuropsychological and personality testing, medical/neurological studies, motivational assessment, family history and evaluation, functional life skills assessment, substance abuse consultation, eating disorder and nutritional assessment and other specialty consultations as indicated.
    • Treatment is directed at developing competence in mindfulness, self- acceptance and expression, emotional and behavioral self- regulation, interpersonal relationships, educational and vocational skills, and the tools for daily living.
    • Neuroscience research guides the pattern, rhythm, and content of Yellowbrick programming.  Attention is paid to developing normative nutritional, activity and sleep patterns.  Early morning interventions consist of individual support for developing effective self-organizational skills and patterns.  Initial groups are designed for introducing gradual arousal, mind-body integration and a structured goal oriented cognitive approach to the day.  As the program proceeds, groups and interventions become more interpersonally and emotionally intense.  Later there are opportunities to process and metabolize the emotions themselves and their personal meaning.  Evenings and weekends provide skilled support for developing the capacity to structure individual time, sustain inner vitality, socialize, and play.
    • Individual psychotherapy and family psychotherapy provide a required private space in treatment.  If prescribed, these are provided at the Consultation & Treatment Center by Yellowbrick or affiliated professionals other than Residence Resource Staff.  Individual meetings with therapists are focused on the utilization of treatment towards achieving life goals.  All communications within individual therapy are discussed openly with all professional staff.  There are no special, protected, or confidential communications among residents and staff within the Yellowbrick community.  Requests for privacy within communications in contrast to confidentiality will be honored on a prescriptive basis.  All behaviors, interactions, and communications within the Yellowbrick community process are considered public domain and open for discussion.  Beyond the Yellowbrick community, confidentiality must be maintained and the failure to do so is grounds for administrative discharge.
    • Psychopharmacology treatment may enhance the capacity to learn and make optimal use of other treatments.
    • Staff are recruited and retained on the basis of personal integrity, professional expertise, commitment to honest personal examination and growth, empathic compassion and collaboration within all relationships, and commitment to continuing education.                                        
    • Affirmation of the individuality and dignity of emotionally troubled individuals.
      Develop self- awareness and acceptance to affirm identity and foster positive change.
      Identify and build on individual motivations, interests, and talents.
    • Assumption of personal responsibility for one’s actions.  Necessity for personal competence.
      Understand the historical and current origin of symptoms and experiences.
      Learn and practice self-management.
    • Necessity for initiating and sustaining honest and mutually supportive relationships.
      Explore experiences and patterns in relationships.
      Develop communication skills for self- expression, listening, empathy, collaboration.
       Notice and effect change in recurring patterns of self-defeating behavior.
    • Membership and participation in a diverse community as an anchor for personal growth.
      Express individual needs and identity while contributing as a citizen of the community.
      Experience the affirming and healing power of interdependent connectedness.
      Respect for individual freedom, choice, open expression, and innovation.  Intolerance for coercion.
      Discover, develop, and protect authentic voice, passions, and ambitions.
    • Treatment outcome is facilitated by working together on actual life experiences.
      Practice new behaviors and face challenges while working to collaborate with support resources.
    • Passionate professional commitment sustains the imperative of successful outcome.
      Staff recruitment targets integrity, personal maturity, expertise, compassion, mutuality, collaboration, and personal growth.

    Residents will be challenged with all the actual tasks of independent (with roommate) living but also supported with intensive skilled support and resources.  Skilled senior clinicians will provide individual, family and group services addressed at promoting self-integration and improving skills in the areas of emotional regulation, interpersonal skills, conflict resolution, problem solving, coping effectively despite symptoms, and the capacity to access help from others.  Specialized interventions are provided for eating disorders such as meal planning, supported meals, post meal processing, shopping, and dining experiences, and cognitive-behavioral and experiential group therapies.  Yellowbrick’s Professional Staff have extensive experience and expertise with dual diagnosis substance abuse.  The program actively integrates 12 step approaches into the daily life of the residents. 

    An educational and career services program beginning with motivational assessment and continuing through job readiness, interviewing, resume preparation, volunteer work, or apprenticing, and job placement with coaching is available.  Yellowbrick has a full time professional staff, the majority of whom have 15 – 30 years experience working with troubled individuals, directing treatment programs, and serving as teachers, supervisors, and consultants.  While Yellowbrick is not a treatment program for primary substance/ alcohol abuse, it is recognized that the emerging adult is an “at risk” population.  Therefore, Yellowbrick actively facilitates and supports involvement in Evanston 12 Step meetings and linking with sponsors.  Residents are supported with breathalyzer and urine toxicology monitoring and there is group programming directed at compulsive behavior disorders.

     Art therapy, psychodrama, self-hypnosis instruction, yoga, martial arts, self-defense training, prescribed exercise, and fitness coaching and elective activities such as community service projects, educational or recreational outings, relevant films with discussion, music, and art studio, gardening or prescriptive board games provide additional rich treatment opportunities.  An occupational therapist will assist in daily self-organization and management as well as individual and group planning, goal setting, and execution, and in developing life skills such as managing a budget.  Each individual will be provided a bi-weekly stipend and will manage their account for purchase of non-staple foods, other routine items, and special events.  A Registered Dietician will provide assistance with shopping, meal planning, supported meals, goals, and strategies for eating disordered residents, and health awareness.  Staff and often other residents teach cooking and baking and assist in the preparation of routine meals, Sunday brunch, and special events.