Serving the Merrimack Valley area in Massachusetts since 2010
The MVTS Difference
What sets us apart from other mental health agencies
A family-focused, trauma-focused, evidenced-based service model
The MVTS service model is based on empowerment-based, strength-based, and family-focused principles and utilizes evidenced-based trauma treatment modalities. We believe that children heal from trauma within the context of their relationships with those who are closest to them. Therefore, we involve the child’s attachment figure or figures in every aspect of the treatment we provide. Prior to accepting the client/family into our program, we ask that parents and caregivers make a commitment to their child’s treatment, and serve as our partners and active participants in each stage of the program. In addition to facilitating the child’s healing, our goal is to empower and educate caregivers about their child’s diagnosis, teach and model trauma-sensitive discipline strategies, and provide caregivers with support for their own healing. Since 98 percent of parents whose children experience trauma have their own trauma histories, we feel it makes the most sense to work collaboratively with caregivers to strengthen their ability to help their children and, perhaps, to break the cycle of trauma that exists within many families.
The Safe Kids-Healthy Families Program
Developed in 2014, the Safe Kids-Healthy Families Program serves children and their families impacted by sexual abuse. Since sexual abuse affects the entire family, not just the child or adolescent who was abused, this program focuses on first supporting caregivers (including parents, foster parents, kinship parents, and other family members), educating them about trauma, sexual abuse, the possible impact of their own trauma history on their parenting, positive communication, and trauma-sensitive discipline strategies. A separate curriculum works intensively with caregivers who have a child, ages 3-12 years, who has sexual behavior problems. The program then provides the opportunity for family sessions involving the child who was abused or suspected to be abused and siblings (when appropriate), helping caregivers lead the sessions and teach their children skills to recover from and prevent sexual abuse.
Committed behavioral health professionals providing quality services
MVTS clinicians have obtained their highest level of licensure in their respective fields, possess expertise in trauma work, specialize in working with children and families, and receive ongoing supervision and training to ensure that all MVTS clients receive the highest caliber of service available. Unlike many outpatient clinics, MVTS emphasizes quality versus quantity of service, and this shows through the relationships we have built with our clients and other providers in the community, our low no-show/late cancellation rates, and the many referrals we receive for our services. We have seen how damaging it can be to the client/family to have multiple therapists moving in and out of their lives, disrupting the therapeutic relationship and progress toward treatment goals. Often, a loss of a therapist can mirror or add to other losses in a client or family’s life, and clients tell us that it is “re-traumatizing to tell the story over and over again” to multiple providers. Each clinician we hire is asked to make a long-term commitment to working at MVTS, in order to promote a safe, consistent healing environment, and limit disruption to our clients’ treatment progress.
Collaborative relationships with community partners
We believe that providers need to work together to help coordinate all resources clients are receiving, in order to reduce duplication of services and the likelihood of confusing or overwhelming families, and to promote consistency of strategies and positive communication among all parties. Some of our many community partners include the Department of Children and Families, Community Teamwork, Inc. (CTI), Lahey Behavioral Health, New England Center for Mental Health, Lowell Community Health Center, Lowell Public Schools Coalition, and the Greater Lowell Health Alliance-Mental Health Task Force.
Consultation and training to empower other professionals
MVTS provides trauma-informed consultation and training to other clinicians, case managers, administrators, medical staff, daycare providers, educators and school professionals, family child care providers, and after school programs. One of our most important training initiatives is the prevention of vicarious trauma. Vicarious trauma is a term used to describe the cognitive, emotional, behavioral, interpersonal, physical, and spiritual impact on providers who work with people who have experienced trauma. MVTS also developed a support group curriculum for providers, called “The Healing Circle,” which utilizes trauma-focused education and treatment strategies to help participants learn to recognize the signs of, treat, and prevent vicarious trauma in themselves and their staff.