Evidence-Based Practices

Evidence-based practices for mental health and substance abuse treatment are supported by research that proves their effectiveness in helping people to make emotional and behavioral changes. Turning Point uses evidence-based practices throughout its programming to ensure youth in need are receiving the highest quality care available.

a father and a depressed-looking son talking to a male counselor

Evidence-Based Practices for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment

Gender-Specific Programming

Turning Point believes strongly in the need to treat and address male and female clients differently through Gender-Specific Programming. Research has shown that when boys get into trouble they lash out, get into fights, carry guns, set fires, etc. The crimes they commit look dangerous and inspire fear. Girls get into trouble more quietly, striking inward through abusing drugs, prostituting, starving, or even mutilating themselves. (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 1998; Prescott, 1997; Girls Inc., 1997; Davis, Schoen, Greenburg, Desroches, & Abrams, 1997; Belknap, 1996.)

Therefore, it is important to design specific programming for each group. Turning Point is able to physically separate these two populations for housing purposes and to offer separate treatment for each population. (Acoca 1998; Girls Incorporated 1996; Taylor, Gilligan & Sullivan 1995; Guiding Principles for Promising Female Programming 1998.)

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

DBT, which is utilized in both the male and female residential programs, focuses on needs specific to the profile of the clients in this program. This theory, and subsequent approach to treatment, was developed by Marsha Linehan in 1991. The goals of treatment include reducing self-injuring and life-threatening behaviors, and therapy interfering and quality of life interfering behaviors while increasing behavioral skills.

DBT is an approach found effective in treating those with complex, difficult-to-treat mental disorders. Therapeutic targets include increasing interpersonal skills, developing more effective self-regulation, and improving distress tolerance. Included in DBT is the concept of mindfulness practices that move clients toward control of their thinking and use of the “wise mind.” The fundamental dialect in DBT is between validation and acceptance of clients as they are within the context of helping them change.

DBT is a method of teaching skills that can help, including:

  • Interpersonal effectiveness
  • Distress tolerance
  • Reality acceptance
  • Emotion regulation
  • Mindfulness


DBT helps those who have personal and environmental factors that often block and/or inhibit the use of behavioral skills that reinforce dysfunctional behaviors.

Trauma-Informed Therapy

Turning Point offers trauma-informed therapy for our clients.  First, we assess children and youth within a trauma-focused framework, including identifying current and previous traumatic experiences, behavioral and affect dysregulation, interpersonal difficulties, and sensory difficulties.  Depending on the results of the assessment, Turning Point therapists use a variety of evidenced-based treatment models to help clients manage and overcome traumatic experiences. These modalities include EMDR, Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Somatic Experiencing, and Integrative Treatment of Complex Trauma for Adolescents.

Positive Behavior Support (PBS)

Positive Behavior Support (PBS) is utilized throughout Turning Point’s education programs. PBS works toward eliminating challenging behaviors and replacing them with pro-social behaviors. PBS improves social competence and academic achievement by encouraging youth to change their own behaviors from within.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a here-and-now approach focusing on the relationship between thoughts, feelings and behaviors. It involves a practical-skills approach that enables clients to tackle their problems by harnessing their own resources. The main goal of CBT is the development and utilization of skills in the context of effectiveness in the treatment of common mental health problems such as anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, panic, phobias, depression, etc. (Beck, A. 1997.)

Motivational Interviewing

Motivational Interviewing is a directive, client-centered counseling style for eliciting behavior change by helping clients to explore and resolve ambivalence. When compared to nondirective counseling, Motivational Interviewing is more focused and goal directed. The examination and resolution of ambivalence is the central purpose of Motivational Interviewing and the counselor is intentionally directive in pursuing this goal. For more information on Motivational Interviewing, please see Miller & Rollnick, 2002 & 2007.

Pathways to Self-Discovery & Change

Pathways was developed to respond to the need for a developmentally appropriate model designed to address substance abuse, mental disorder and/or criminal conduct.  It is now recognized as the standard of care for juvenile substance abusing offenders by the Colorado Division of Behavioral Health.

Pathways is an outcomes-based program for delivering cognitive restructuring and social skills training to adolescent substance-abusing offenders.

Pathways is divided into three phases: Challenge to Change (trust building, open sharing, thoughts and relation to substance abuse and criminal activity, triggers), Commitment to Change (improve communication, play fair, avoid trouble, develop sense of responsibility and concern for others, change negative thinking, handle anger, guilt and depression), and Ownership for Change (apply knowledge into own life, overcome prejudice, understand intimacy, problem solving, decision making, lifestyle balance, build family and community support, healthy leisure).

Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR)

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR, was developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro in 1989. It is a therapeutic process that has helped hundreds of thousands of people find relief from a wide range of emotional and personal problems.

EMDR works on the premise that when a trauma occurs, it seems to get locked in the nervous system with the original pictures, sounds, thoughts and feelings. This material can combine fact with fantasy and with images that stand for the actual event and associated feelings. The eye movements we use in EMDR seem to unlock the nervous system and allow the brain to process the experience. It is important for the client to remember that it is their own brain that is doing the healing and that he or she is in control of the process. (American Psychiatric Association, 2004; CREST, 2003.)