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What I’ve Learned in My First 6 Months at The Dorm: Part II – The One-of-a-Kind Experience of Community Integration

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Clinically Reviewed by: Amanda Fialk, PhD, LCSW, LICSW

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By Tere Snodgrass, Director of Admissions & Referral Experience

In this second installment of my series on the first 6 months at The Dorm, I will be delving into the extraordinary aspects of community, connection, and belonging that set The Dorm treatment community apart. For a long time I heard the team say “community is our strength.” In this post, I’ll delve into the true significance of this phrase.

How The Dorm’s Community is Different

From the very beginning, it was evident that The Dorm’s program was firmly grounded in community values. The vibrant and welcoming communal space, known as the Clubhouse, serves as the beating heart of this ethos and is inspired by the experience of student centers commonly found on college campuses.

When I first heard about the Clubhouse, it was described as “where the magic happens” and at first I didn’t understand it, but now I do. Everyone knows each others’ names, their stories, what groups they are going to.  I have certainly seen community integration before, but never to this extent and scope: community at The Dorm is not just about creating a hangout space where people happen to come together. There is an entire ecosystem in place that fosters belonging, participation and peer support. 

Within this dynamic environment clients share meals, they study, play games, and join clubs, all with the support of onsite clinicians. This vibrant setting acts as a catalyst for forming productive relationships, nurturing a profound sense of community for these clients.

Full-time community managers curate and organize thoughtful activities and excursions within the diversity of Washington DC and New York City and these immersive experiences serve as experiences for clients to apply their skills within real-world scenarios. By participating in a range of activities like volunteering, visiting museums, or attending theatrical performances, I see clients cultivate self-assurance, effective coping strategies, and adeptness in navigating complex circumstances. 

Inclusive & Affirming

Affirmation and inclusivity are not buzzwords at The Dorm; they are a deliberate intention. With over 37% of the client population identifying as LGBTQ+, and with individuals of every race, religion, and ethnicity, this commitment is evident in the way clinicians and team members engage in discussions and celebrations of diverse cultural moments of significance, and the thoughtfulness around using inclusive language and norms, both in groups and in community settings. Whether it’s Pride, Juneteenth, Trans Visibility Day, or Hispanic Heritage Month, the entire community is encouraged to join in, learn, and affirm all individuals and their unique lived experiences.

The Science of Friendship: What the Research Shows

The Dorm always makes decisions grounded in data and that includes how they measure and prioritize the experience of community in treatment. According to their validated research outcomes, between admission and discharge, clients are not only seeing a 138% improvement in well-being, but are feeling more accepted and supported by their peers. These rising levels of friendship are correlated with broad-ranging symptom improvements like self-confidence and self-efficacy.

I look forward to sharing more insights soon, including more details about The Dorm’s robust Research Outcomes and engaged leadership culture. I’m always available to answer questions or provide more information about our community – please contact me at tsnodgrass@thedorm.com

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