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Deschutes County Finds Success with New Teen Mental Health Program

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County is trying to combat a spike in teen suicide attempts with a new therapeutic technique. County Health Services recently provided training for 25 clinicians in Attachment-Based Family Therapy.


Kevin Shaw says the 16-week program is already seeing positive results. "It's so amazing to be in a session and to see a kiddo reconnect with their parent in such a meaningful way," Shaw tells KBND. "The success is immediate."


The program is offered by county health therapists in Bend, Redmond, Sisters and La Pine.


MaryAnne McDonnell with the Deschutes County Health Services says it has a special focus. "It's designed to repair what we call 'ruptures in attachment,' which are really breaks in the bond of trust between the adolescent and the parent," McDonnell says. "These breaks can be things that are very obvious to the child and the parent. Or, often times, it's a feeling that the adolescent has that the parent may not even be aware of.


Central Oregon currently has one of the highest suicide rates in the country, with a dramatic jump in teen suicides in recent years. 

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