We are honored to be celebrating 30 years of serving clients and families at Lifeskills South Florida. Opening its doors in 1991, Lifeskills South Florida began as a program that specialized in trauma and substance abuse. The first home of the program was an executive town center in Boca Raton. In 1999, Jeff Steiner and two other partners came along and purchased the struggling business, and Nancy Steiner was his first Executive Director before leaving to found “The Sanctuary”. In 2009 Jeff moved the program to where it resides today in Deerfield Beach. In July of 2015, Odyssey Behavioral Healthcare purchased Lifeskills South Florida and our current CEO, Klay Weaver began his work of revamping the program.
In 2015, when the work began to turn Lifeskills into a premier residential facility there were less than 40 employees. Today, we have close to 100 dedicated professionals, all passionate about providing quality, compassionate care to others. The program began with one Ph.D. level therapists and has now grown to eight clinicians that are doctorate-level professionals, licensed in Florida with multiple certifications in their respective specialties.
Klay shares, “Lifeskills South Florida historically had many varied acute and complex clients, and to assemble a growing team to treat this population was key to successful outcomes. As staff left us, we would replace them with primarily doctorate-level clinicians and require them to hold evidence-based certification in the clinical pathway in which they provided services. As a result of this vision, Lifeskills now has seven EMDR certified staff, and ten intensively DBT trained staff. Our DBT staff trained at Behavior Tech, which is the Institution started by the founder of Dialectic Behavioral Therapy, Marsha Linehan. Having our clinicians obtain the certification in their clinical pathway is important for us because it demonstrates they have the highest level of education and certification in their unique specialties.”
Of the clients served at Lifeskills, over 92% are battling both a substance use disorder and another mental health disorder, making effective dual diagnosis treatment with a clear step-down process vital to sustained recovery. We work with clients to ensure they understand all aspects of the dual diagnosis. By partnering with the client and their family, we can effectively design a customized plan that helps clients achieve the self-awareness, self-reliance and self-monitoring skills needed to live a more independent life after leaving treatment.
The customized programming at Lifeskills takes place at multiple levels that provide a true continuum of care to clients and families. When the Lifeskills program began, there were only a handful of clients in the residential program and there was no Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) and a small Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). Today, Lifeskills South Florida offers a clear step-down process, so clients feel continually supported in the treatment journey.
IOP had been at Lifeskills for many years, but it was almost an afterthought. There was no real plan to let clients practice their skills in an environment where they would also have access to their treatment team.
“We put intentionality around the IOP. Clients can now practice their coping skills wrapped in support by their treatment team as they step down. Research has indicated that those who have extended therapy time have higher degrees of success when they are stepping down back into independence,” says Klay.
IOP is designed to support the treatment process and help clients receive supportive services with ease. It is a step-down level of treatment from the residential level or the Partial Hospitalization Program, or it can be a direct step into treatment.
In the summer of 2016, Lifeskills opened its doors to the Partial Hospitalization Program, which provides a critical step for individuals who are chronic in their illness and autonomy in a safe environment to practice recovery skills in real-life situations. A customized treatment plan that includes individual and group therapy helps clients learn the coping skills needed to demonstrate increments of success as they go from residential, to semi-independence to full independence.
Additionally, Lifeskills South Florida purchased The Sanctuary’s female housing from Antigua Crossroads to begin what is now known as the Osceola House, which is transitional living for both men and women to learn self-management while increasing their responsibility and taking steps toward independent, supported living in gender-specific housing. With 15 FARR Accredited Level III houses, Osceola House’s professional staff provides 24/7 care and assists clients who have stepped down from the residential level of care and need structured living support while attending IOP, outpatient care, or college and community activities.
Hope & Healing
There is no doubt that Lifeskills South Florida has grown to be one of the premier residential treatment facilities in the country. Our future is bright as we continue to grow and provide specialized treatment of mental health and substance use disorders. Today, there are 52 residential beds, with plans to add 16 beds to the North side of the campus. This additional space will be for the more acute and chronic individuals who need longer stabilization in the residential level of care. The goal is to have a physical separation of individuals who do well in talk therapy from those who are more acute and less responsive to talk therapy. The new bed space is being designed with a purposeful quiet space where these individuals can recover at their own pace.
Many individuals struggle with mental health and substance use disorders, and we at Lifeskills South Florida understand the need to offer quality, compassionate care to help each person return to independent productive lives.
The Lifeskills South Florida Mission: As a trusted treatment provider of behavioral health services, we believe that individuals have the intrinsic ability to change with the support of compassionate and nurturing caregivers.