Over decades of his career, it became clear to Bridge House founder Dr. Chris McRoberts that most people with mental health, cognitive, learning, substance abuse, and behavioral difficulties were not adequately assessed or accurately diagnosed before beginning costly and time-consuming therapeutic regimens. It became clear that a slower, comprehensive, integrative, and community-based assessment strategy should be implemented. This is how the Bridge House model came to be.
It is a plan that developed over a period of nearly two decades. This plan began when Dr. Chris McRoberts created psychological testing and evaluation firm with psychologists specializing in evaluating children, adolescents, and young adults in schools, therapeutic programs, and private practice settings around the United States and even internationally. Dr. McRoberts found that many people were being tested during times of crisis or while in a hospital when test results could be erroneous. Additionally, many people underwent psychological, educational, or neuropsychological testing when experiencing the lasting effects of drugs or alcohol or immediately after significant medication changes that might impact their test results. Some were evaluated in the midst of a severe psychotic, manic, or depressive phase of their illness. Others had physical illnesses, chromosomal abnormalities, dietary problems, family situations, or histories of trauma that could cloud test results and lead to inaccurate diagnoses.
In 2016 Dr. McRoberts partnered with Rod Andrus, a skilled clinician, and manager with more than 20 years of experience creating and implementing therapeutic programming in residential settings. Together, they developed a strategy for working with a diverse array of people experiencing mental health and adjustment problems to understand the complex underlying reasons for the struggles people were experiencing. They utilized research evidence showing that people in acute and chronic distress must experience a caring and nurturing environment with their caregivers to feel safe and secure enough to make therapeutic gains. The assessment program they developed at Bridge House focuses on this environment while also providing structures to keep residents safe. In contrast, they develop stability and, with it, the ability to heal. As this program is implemented, medications are adjusted. Residents undergo medical, dietary, occupational therapy, DNA, and other comprehensive assessments before making efforts to diagnose and understand their problems accurately.
Mr. Andrus and Dr. McRoberts also determined that a necessary component of the assessment process was to effectively communicate assessment results to each resident, their families, and future treatment providers so that a plan could be developed for lifelong health and healing. Because it often takes some time for people to understand the complexity of their issues, an integral part of the Bridge House process is helping each individual understand their diagnosis and the types of supports and therapeutic interventions they will need to function optimally in society. To this end, each individual at Bridge House participates in a wide variety of community activities for their ability to function outside of residential treatment to be evaluated, and plans can include interventions tailored to their reactions to real-life experiences and challenges.
It was also clear that people could make a significant change during the assessment process developed at Bridge House when the framework for care comes from seeking to understand an individual and their life experiences rather than immediately trying to fix, or solve a problem . This is accomplished through a wide variety of therapeutic interventions, including eight hours a day of various forms of group therapy made available to residents, intensive individual therapy, and effective medication management. These interventions have consistently enabled Bridge House residents to make tremendous gains, which in turn, allow them to transition to the least restrictive level of care possible.
At Bridge House, a fundamental tenet backed by many years of research is that caring relationships heal. Because of this, we hire the kindest, compassionate, and caring people we can find who can set good limits and boundaries. This contributes tremendously to the healing process and creates an environment of peace, safety, and security. Our residents feel secure enough to try new behaviors and risk their deepest selves to make a change.
Finally, the environment at Bridge House was chosen specifically for the peace and calm it engenders. Our beautiful home sits on five acres with a serene pond, outdoor living spaces, grassy areas, and beautiful trees away from the hubbub of city life. Our residents are free to move around the property and, when they are safe to do so, can regularly go off the property to engage in service, athletic, and community activities.
We are trying something new at Bridge House, and it’s working to reduce the revolving door that so many people with mental health problems go through with multiple therapists, hospitalizations, medications, and other interventions that were ineffective due to an inaccurate diagnosis and a lack of understanding of each complex individual. We work hard at Bridge House to develop understanding, create effective interventions, and communicate our understanding of each resident and benefit them long-term.