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Teen program opens Family Living Center

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A program in Davis County to help troubled teens can now serve them and their families even better, thanks to the opening of the Family Living Center.

Life-Line, a non-profit, family-focused treatment program for teens, located in North Salt Lake, recently held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the building, which will provide housing for youths in the program and for families visiting their teens from out of the region.

"Sometimes because of the distance or for other reasons, families are not able to participate," said Shane Petersen, Life-Line director of administration. "With the Family Living Center, we have a new way to work with families and rooms for parents to spend the night while participating directly with a teenager's treatment."

Family involvement is an essential aspect of the treatment program at Life-Line. The program is divided into five phases: honesty and spirituality; family relationships and service; relapse prevention planning; re-entry, application and lifestyle change; and leadership and giving back.

The focus of the first phase is on honesty, accountability, personal responsibility and increasing personal awareness of the reasons a teen started participating in the unhealthy behavior. The second phase builds upon the first. Youths spend 10-12 hours a day for six days a week at Life-Line and act as a teacher and mentor for new participants in the program.

In the third phase of treatment, youths prepare their plan for coping with the challenges of returning to school and re-entering society, and in the fourth phase, they put their plan into action by going back to school. This phase provides participants the opportunity to put newly acquired skills into practice outside the treatment center.

By the time teens have reached the fifth phase, they have become leaders and role models. To complete their treatment, they prepare a detailed "graduation proposal" that describes their past, outlines their progress and sets goals for the future.

Intertwined in this entire process is family involvement.

"All along we're working with (the teen's) family and other siblings," Peterson said. "With the family dynamic, things might keep pulling this kid down, so we want to help mom and dad get healthy. If mom and dad are healthy, it's likely their 16-year-old will do well in life."

During the treatment process, families are asked to spend an entire weekend working with their children at Life-Line.

"We ask parents to give up a weekend (once) during their child's treatment," said Shawna Meredith, Life-Line director of admissions. "If parents are engaged in the treatment, they know what's going on and what a chid's talking about. Life-Line is there as a support for them."

Peterson and Meredith said it's touching to see the miraculous things that happen to youths in the program. Many like to stay connected to Life-Line even after they graduate.

"It's a big Life-Line family," Peterson said. "What's created when a bunch of people come together is an emotional connection."

Life-Line is located at 1130 W. Center St. in North Salt Lake. For information about the center or its programs, visit www.lifelineutah.com or call 801-936-4000.

E-mail: twalquist@desnews.com