Healing Hearts Camp

About This Program

Target Population: Families with challenging children from 5 to 14 years of age struggling with attachment or adoption issues and the professionals who work with them.

For children/adolescents ages: 5 – 14

For parents/caregivers of children ages: 5 – 14

Program Overview

Healing Hearts Camp provides tools to help parents struggling with destruction, defiance, or disrespect issues with their children. At the camp, parents are educated and empowered about reactive attachment disorder (RAD), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), fetal alcohol syndrome disorder (FASD), autism, and Asperger's and how to help their children at home and in school. All of the activities are designed to build trust, healthy relationships, and a full conscience (i.e., age appropriate ability to use moral judgment to choose right from wrong and to feel remorse for wrongdoing) in traumatized children while supporting their parents to provide for their special needs and powerful nurturing.

Program Goals

The overall goals of Healing Hearts Camp are:

  • Fill parents with hope for their child's future
  • Encourage parents to not give up
  • Guide parents with understanding and effective interventions to avoid harsh punishment and anger in the parent/child relationship
  • Teach parents how to help children become respectful, build self-respect, and be responsible and resourceful
  • Have more peace and laughter in the home and to provide permanency in their lives

Logic Model

The program representative did not provide information about a Logic Model for Healing Hearts Camp.

Essential Components

The essential components of Healing Hearts Camp include:

  • Pre-camp education: Before parents learn how to handle their child's problem behaviors, they are educated about brain function and trauma-affected brains in order to reduce parental anger and frustration and increase empathy toward the child.
  • For the first three days of camp, all interventions for challenging children are done by trained staff.
  • Behavior modification: From the base of empathy, parents are empowered and educated on how to deal with problem behaviors. Each defiant, destructive, or disrespectful behavior is dealt with using Brain-Based Behavior Interventions (3BI).
    • Step 1. The child is taught to "shift gears" in his/her brain from fight or flight to logic and reasoning using activities designed to cause the shift.
    • Step 2. The child is hugged by the parent, which has been shown to activate the limbic system of the brain in a positive way and demonstrate acceptance.
    • Step 3. The child is asked for accountability and responsibility for their actions using logic and reasoning activating the outer cortex of the brain which is the neurological center of logic and reasoning.
    • Step 4. The child is hugged again by the parent.
    • Step 5. The child is helped to come up with a plan to solve the problem.
    • Step 6. The child is hugged again by the parent and the solution is carried out.
  • Bonding activities taught and encouraged by instructors:
    • Instructors demonstrate and then have participants role play the 3BI.
    • Instructors use experiential techniques and follow up with trust- and relationship-building activities with lots of laughter to increase serotonin and release stress.
  • Camp follow-up is a six-week online support group with online training available through Families by Design’s Advanced Parenting Academy.

Program Delivery

Child/Adolescent Services

Healing Hearts Camp directly provides services to children/adolescents and addresses the following:

  • Issues with attachment and adoption and defiant, destructive, and disrespectful behaviors that can interfere with healthy parent/child relationships

Parent/Caregiver Services

Healing Hearts Camp directly provides services to parents/caregivers and addresses the following:

  • Have an adopted and foster child(ren) with defiant, destructive, and disrespectful behaviors and are exhausted and stressed
Services Involve Family/Support Structures:

This program involves the family or other support systems in the individual's treatment: The entire family including healthy siblings and grandparents can and are encouraged to participate in Healing Hearts Camp. Pulling the whole family together and educating them allows them to work as a team. Other support systems are welcome to participate as part of the camp intervention team, including the child’s school staff and the child’s community and/or respite provider.

Recommended Intensity:

Camp part lasts one week. Weekly support group meetings after camp are 1 hour each week.

Recommended Duration:

Seven weeks

Delivery Setting

This program is typically conducted in a(n):

  • Group or Residential Care


This program does not include a homework component.

Resources Needed to Run Program

The typical resources for implementing the program are:

Camp facility with overnight accommodations for up to 20 families, dining hall, training room with A/V equipment.

Manuals and Training

Prerequisite/Minimum Provider Qualifications

Potential providers are interviewed to determine each individual's emotional stability and ability to work compassionately with children and families and compatibility with the program. The providers can be teachers, therapists, school counselors, nurses, doctors, police officers, and other professionals in the field of helping children. The minimum educational requirement is the same as needed to be the type of professional the provider is prior to training.

Manual Information

There is a manual that describes how to deliver this program.

Training Information

There is training available for this program.

Training Contact:
Training Type/Location:

It is provided onsite and in Glenwood Springs, CO.

Number of days/hours:

It is 8 consecutive days for 8 hours a day for the staff members. It is 6 full weeks of camps for the camp directors. An internship for camp directors involves co-teaching/directing for 5 camps and supervision and observation for a full camp before certification is approved to teach and lead camp independently.

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

Currently, there are no published, peer-reviewed research studies for Healing Hearts Camp.

Additional References

No reference materials are currently available for Healing Hearts Camp.

Contact Information

Nancy Thomas
Agency/Affiliation: Families by Design
Website: www.attachment.org/all-camp-listings
Phone: (970) 984-2222

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: May 2014

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: January 2024

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: June 2014