Sara Mennen, MS, LMFT, RPT, Clinical Supervisor / Family Therapist
Sara obtained her Bachelors of Arts degree in Human Services and Psychology from the University of Minnesota, Morris. She then continued her education at Minnesota State University, Mankato to obtain a Master of Science degree in Community Counseling with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy. Sara became a Registered Play Therapist (RPT) through the association of play therapy and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) through the Minnesota Board of Marriage and Family Therapy. She is also certified as a sexual assualt advocate. Sara's mental health career includes working in several group home settings with consumers that have developmental disabilities and/or mental health concerns. She has been employed as both a children's therapeutic support services (CTSS) worker and adult rehabilitative mental health services (ARMHS) worker providing in-home services. Sara has provided outpatient services in both a community mental center and private practice.
Family Therapy sessions are scheduled after the 14-day or 30-day evaluation period. At first there are one or two sessions with the parents or guardians alone. These sessions can be on campus or conducted by telephone. The purpose of these parent sessions is to build trust and rapport by processing their experiences and feelings about their son’s behavior and admission. There is also an introduction to program structure, treatment expectations and goals of family therapy. Generally, family sessions are scheduled twice monthly, but additional sessions may take place as needed or requested.
Initial goals for family therapy are identified and individualized in early sessions. There are, however, general goals for most families; these include developing informed parental support, understanding family relational dynamics and how they contribute to problematic behaviors, and improving communication skills. In families where there has been sexual abuse of siblings, the process of family reunification is discussed and reviewed.
During Phase One only those family members over the age of 16 participate in family therapy; after the adolescent passes a polygraph examination in regard to his sexual behaviors, family therapy can be expanded to include non-victim siblings who are under age 16 years, if judged to be appropriate and beneficial.
Usually in Phase Two of treatment the adolescent completes a full disclosure of his sexual offenses with his parents or significant others in a family therapy session. Apology letters to family members are also processed in family sessions. As the adolescent becomes eligible for off-grounds and home visits, safety planning and supervision guidelines are reviewed in family sessions.
In Phases Three and Four, family reunification sessions are occurring. Family members also participate in continuing communication skill development and exploration and understanding of family dynamics. Discharge plans are discussed and implemented.