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Pine River Institute’s Director of Research and Evaluation, Dr. Laura Mills, is leading a province-wide project to develop and implement a common approach to evaluation in the youth addiction sector. We secured $327,500 from the Ontario Trillium Foundation on behalf of 12 youth addiction agencies. This initiative has also received support from the Ontario Centre of Excellence in Child and Youth Mental Health, and Addictions and Mental Health Ontario.


On May 29, 2015 Pine River was granted $210,264 by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care under Health Canada’s Drug Treatment Funding Program to support this collaborative initiative, Supplementing, Sustaining & Spreading Evaluation Capacity in the Youth Addictions Treatment Sector. We are grateful to the Government of Ontario, the Government of Canada, and to our partner organizations in this project for their dedication to establishing a common approach that will benefit all. Thanks go to:

Alternatives for Youth (Hamilton)


Community Addiction Services of Niagara

Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre (Ottawa)

HopeGreyBruce (Owen Sound)

Maison Fraternité (Ottawa)

Mamisarvik Inuit Healing Centre (Ottawa)

Portage (Elora)

Ray of Hope (Kitchener)

Rideauwood (Ottawa)

SickKids (Toronto)

Sister Margaret Smith (Thunder Bay)

 Below is an update on this project from Dr. Mills.

The current state of the evaluative capacity among youth addiction agencies in Ontario is varied and non-systematic. It can be difficult, and sometimes impossible, to determine how effective youth addiction programs are, and whether we are getting youth to the right program for their needs.

Our project is designed to increase the capacity to do evaluation among the agencies involved. To this end, we have conducted an environmental scan with clients, parents, and agency staff to better understand what client outcomes we should be measuring, and how and when to measure them.

We are now developing a common framework for evaluation. This includes training on tools, building interactive software, and selecting and setting up hardware.

The common framework will be piloted across our collaborative programs, which are varied in type and approach. What we learn from this pilot will inform training materials and resources for other programs in the province.


Donate By June 30 and Automatically Enter


To Win A $10,000 Donation!

The more you give, the more chances we have to win!

Every $1 donated IN JUNE is an automatic entry for us to win (minimum $3 donation required).


to make your donation.

Thank you for your support!

 Grand prize draw is on CANADA DAY, July 1, 2015 - $10,000 will be donated to the winning charity.

Pine River Foundation raises and stewards funds to support Pine River Institute, so that we can continue to provide the best possible care to youth struggling with addictive behaviours and often other co-occurring mental health issues. 


On a sunny day in April, Deputy Minister Alex Bezzina and Assistant Deputy Minister JoAnn Miller-Reid spent a couple of hours with us at the Pine River Institute campus near Shelburne, Ontario. It is always gratifying when people make the effort to visit our campus a few hours outside of Toronto, and see for themselves just how our program works. We truly appreciate the opportunity to share it with them.

Our guests learned first-hand from our Clinical Director, Dr. Victoria Creighton, about our maturity model, the phases within the program, variable length of stay, and working with the whole family. They heard from Dr. Laura Mills, Director of Research & Evaluation, about our on-going outcome evaluation, and the many collaborative projects in which she is involved or leading. Our CEO, Vaughan Dowie and John Fallis, Executive Director of Operations provided an overview on a number of issues, and all engaged in meaningful discussion about the need for residential treatment for youth in Ontario.

Two current Pine River students joined the conversation, and shared their experience of the program. Both were eloquent and honest about their challenges and how Pine River has helped them and their families to heal and grow. Our tour of the campus concluded with a tasting of the students’ maple syrup, its production in progress.


WORKSHOP INVITATION: SAT MAY 30 TORONTO - Traumatic Attachment and Self-Destructive Behaviour WITH DR. JANINA FISHER



a professional development workshop for therapists and practitioners who want to learn from an expert in the field of trauma.

Dr. Janina Fisher, Ph.D  

Psychotherapist, Consultant, Trainer

We now understand that trauma’s imprint is both psychological and somatic: long after the events are over, the body continues to respond as if danger were ever-present. My professional mission has been to bring this understanding of trauma to both clients and their therapists as a psychotherapist, consultant, and trainer of clinicians looking for answers to helping their traumatized clients. I believe the key to healing is not just knowing what happened, but transforming how the mind, body, and soul still remember it.



Happy #BellLet'sTalk Day! Thank you to CBC's Matt Galloway and Producer Kerry Martin for taking such a keen interest in our program. We received a grant from the 'Bell Let's Talk Community Fund' to help support our bursary program in 2013. 

If you missed the interview with Barb Jessup, PRI's Director of Communications and alumni parent, on Metro Morning today (at 7:10 am!), here it is:

We hope you'll take a listen.



We are very excited and proud to announce that Pine River Foundation CEO, Ann Dowsett Johnston, was honoured with CAMH's Transforming Lives Award on Wednesday night.  

For the full story, including a video of Ann on receiving the award, please click here.

Thank you to Bell Let's Talk Community Fund


Pine River Foundation is proud to be one of Bell Canada’s Let’s Talk Community Fund’s 2013 recipients!

Bell’s support of Pine River’s Bursary Program will assist more youth in crisis to access Pine River Institute’s care.

There is a growing demand for Pine River’s expert services, with a waiting list of over 160 youth in crisis. These youth (and their families) wait on average 6-8 months – a dangerously long time when a child is at risk of going missing, overdosing, or suicide.

Last month Bell representative, Kristine Wilson, visited the PRI campus on an unseasonably cold, snowy day to present Pine River Foundation with a $25,000.00 cheque.

A big THANK YOU to Bell Canada for this important investment in mental health and substance abuse care for youth.

From left: Kristine Wilson (Bell), Harvey Schipper (PRI Board), Karen Minden (CEO, PRF/Founder, PRI), Vaughan Dowie (CEO, PRI), John Fallis (Executive Director, PRI)
From left: Kristine Wilson (Bell), Harvey Schipper (PRI Board), Karen Minden (CEO, PRF/Founder, PRI), Vaughan Dowie (CEO, PRI), John Fallis (Executive Director, PRI)

Pine River Institute Reaccredited

PRI has received expedited reaccreditation from the Council on Accreditation. COA’s program of quality improvement is designed to identify providers that have met high performance standards, and have made a commitment to their stakeholders to deliver the very best quality services. Pine River is proud to be recognized by COA as an outstanding provider.

For more information on the Council of Accreditation please visit:

Effectiveness of Residential Treatment for Substance Abusing Youth: Benefits of the Pine River Institute Program

Pine River’s Director of Research and Evaluation, Laura Mills, recently published this article in the journal Residential Treatment for Children & Youth. She and her co-authors, Deb Pepler (on PRI’s Research Advisory Committee), and Robert Cribbie (York University) investigated the benefits of Pine River’s treatment program for youth abusing substances. 

This distinguished journal offers peer-reviewed articles targeted specifically at the unique conditions of residential care. 

To read the full article please click here

This is a PDF of an electronic version of an article published in Residential Treatment for Children & Youth, Laura Mills MA PhD Cand , Debra Pepler PhD & Robert A. Cribbie PhD (2013) Effectiveness of Residential Treatment for Substance Abusing Youth: Benefits of the Pine River Institute Program, Residential Treatment For Children & Youth, 30:3, 202-226, DOI: 10.1080/0886571X.2013.819273

Annual Evaluation Report: Measuring Our Progress

Annual Report 2013

Special focus on mental health in the National Post

If you read the National Post last Thursday, you may have noticed a special section on Mental Health, including a focus on youth.  Kudos to Glenn Close and Michael Landsberg for sharing their personal stories.  Addressing the stigma is an important step toward making mental health a priority, and ultimately improving care, and access to care.

Click on the image below to read the publication:

Artists Show & Sale in support of Pine River at ArteMbassy

Join us

Thursday, May, 9th   5:00 – 9:00PM

For the Opening of the

ArteMbassy Studio Artists Show and Sale

In support of the Art Program @ The Pine River Institute

Show continues Friday and Saturday 12 - 6PM and

Sunday 12 - 2PM

Free parking available

28 Industrial Street #219

Introduction to Satir Family Therapy with Dr. Maria Gomori

Click here for full details and to REGISTER ONLINE - SPACE IS LIMITED!

June 14 to 16 in Creemore, On

A professional development workshop for therapists and practitioners who want to learn and use the Satir Family Therapy Model in their practice.  

Through a combination of didactic and experiential teaching, small group practice, and discussion, you will learn:
• the foundations of the Satir Family Therapy Model
• to incorporate the basic therapeutic beliefs of the model
• to help clients reduce the impact of past events and negative experiences
• to surface and identify communication and coping patterns
• to map clients’ internal processes
• to use experiential process throughout therapy sessions
• about yourself as a therapist, and how to make contact building a therapeutic relationship to stimulate healing energy and to connect with congruence and your compassion

Maria Gomori, Ph.D., M.S.W., Dip.C., is an internationally known therapist and teacher. She was a student, collaborator, and co-author with Virginia Satir for over 20 years. She is known for her unique & creative integration of abundant life experience & rich learnings from great teachers and systems. Maria has made significant contributions to psychiatric & social work training.  She is an Approved Supervisor with the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), a retired Associate Professor with the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Manitoba, and has been a faculty member and advanced trainer with the Virginia Satir Global Network (formerly Avanta) since 1981. 

Drumming Workshop

Today the PRI Big Room was alive with thunderous drumming! The Dufferin Art's Council helped to bring in Jamie to teach our students about African Drumming. Each of the students were given a hand drum to learn percussion rhythms. Jamie engages the students in stories and helps them to understand the instruments as he present them.

Jamie also supported Pine River at last year's Trail Run event - participants were so encouraged to find him cheering them on with his music along the trail.

January Jams

After lunch we often sit around as a community for a little down time. Today when I came up from the dining hall I heard a jam session taking place in the Big Room. The piano, guitar and drum were accompanied by a couple of vocal performers. It's always nice to hear the sound of music coming out of the Big Room but it's especially nice when a group gets together to jam. We have about 10 students who are taking guitar lessons right now through a teacher who comes to the school twice a week. A lot of the teaching outside of that setting is done amongst peers. A student who has skill and knowledge will often spend time teaching other students so that they can jam in their free time. Students are encouraged to try new things while they are at Pine River so that they can develop hobbies and skills that will help keep them busy when they return home.

 - Meghan McIntosh, Program Manager


We'll be presenting at the upcoming NATSAP Conference

Laura Mills, our Director of Research & Evaluation, and Dr. Rick Biesinger from Innerchange will host an interactive session that will dialogue about the benefits of investing in research, best practices to sustain a culture of research in a resource-challenged environment, and challenges to avoid when engaging evaluative practice.

The conference will be held Feb 7 – 9 in Irvine, CA, and is an excellent venue for knowledge exchange, networking, and forging meaningful partnerships with international colleagues. 

Laura Mills is Director of Research & Evaluation at Pine River.  She is completing her PhD in Psychology in the area of Quantitative Methodology (Statistics). She is responsible for evaluating the effectiveness of Pine River’s treatment to inform program planning and for conducting research that will help build an evidence base in the field of adolescent addictions and mental health. Her vision for the research department is growth through accountability, pioneership, and knowledge exchange. Laura’s PhD research focuses on a novel statistical procedure that works well with ‘messy’ data and her previous work has included research for the Simcoe County District School Board, consultant for the Statistical Consulting Service at York University, and rehabilitation worker for adults with serious mental health issues. She has a passion for photography, running, and the outdoors.

Rick Biesinger works at InnerChange, a parent company for four treatment facilities specializing in systemic treatment for females and their families.  Rick conducts psychological evaluations on the students in the program.  InnerChange is highly dedicated to furthering the advancement in outcome research.  Rick interprets the research for all of the InnerChange programs, in an effort to help improve the quality of care provided.  In addition, Rick maintains a private practice and teaches graduate students.  He is married and he has six children, all of whom keep him and his wife quite busy. 

Family Bridge

We’re very excited to have introduced The Family Bridge for our Pine River families.  It’s a great online tool that helps families to stay in close touch with us on campus, with other Pine River families, and with a support team of extended family, family friends, and professionals outside of Pine River.  Meghan McIntosh (our program manager) has been blogging on ‘the bridge’ almost daily - here are some of the latest,  photos of winter activities on campus: