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:

"Motivating children to think before they act is key to social harmony"

Dr. Debra Pepler  is a Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Psychology, LaMarsh Centre for Child and Youth Research, York University.  She’s also the Senior Research Advisor for Pine River.  Click on the link above to read what she has to say about bullying - an issue getting some well-deserved attention these days.

Evaluating treatment: 9 Ontario programs collaborating on program and outcome evaluation

The Research Department at Pine River Institute is pleased to announce the approval of a grant application to the Ontario Centre of Excellence in Child and Youth Mental Health Knowledge Exchange Initiatives. PRI was the lead applicant in a team of nine organizations on the project named: 

First Steps for Systematic Evaluation of Child & Youth Mental Health and Addiction Treatment

This funding of almost $15,000 will support a workshop in November 2012 that will allow program representatives in the youth addictions sector to start what we call the ‘messy conversation’ about what we think our program outcomes are, what we measure, and what we think are the necessary elements of program evaluation for youth treatment. This is a first step toward increased capacity and a shared approach for program evaluation in Ontario in the youth addiction sector. We will continue these conversations via teleconferences, and synthesize our findings to inform a plan for a province-wide roll out of similar workshops.

Ready to take on the world

Congratulations to the graduating students and families!  Last night we celebrated the hard work, commitment, and SUCCESS of five graduates.  These graduates moved out of the Residence several months ago and have now completed the Aftercare Phase. We are so proud, and excited to hear all about the wonderful things to come for them…

Pine River Institute Receives Environmental Funding

Pine River Institute is proud to announce that we are the recipient of the Community Environment Fund Grant!  This grant, sponsored by Earth Day Canada and Sobey’s, supports local environmental initiatives and projects in Ontario. Pine River’s Sustainable Food Project will see the creation of a high-yield, organic vegetable garden; water harvesting; composting; and the creation of a new kitchen garden.  This kitchen garden will feature a wide variety of culinary herbs just steps from the kitchen door.  As students and staff prepare meals they can harvest fresh, wholesome herbs and vegetables.  

This project will increase access to organic produce; reduce water use; decrease emissions from food transportation; and educate students, families, staff and volunteers about local, sustainable food systems. 

Teacher Anne Thomson said,  “This project answers the call for healthier food in youth institutions.  Unlike the average Canadian school cafeteria, youth at the Pine River Institute are part of a much needed ground-breaking approach to institutional food sourcing.  Not only will the food be wholesome it will be ecologically sound, free of synthetic chemicals and prodced on-site.”

We are delighted with our new partnership with Earth Day Canada and look forward to seeing Pine River grow!

A Father’s Words - shared at our most recent graduation celebration

“As parents we are thrilled with our babies and feel that their lives are filled with possibility. We hope for the best for them. We watch them grow into essentially good kids. Then something bewildering happens. We witness their lives collapse. They become dependent on drugs and alcohol, fail at school, become defiant and sometimes violent at home, get in trouble with the law, and begin to climb down the social ladder. Before we know it the arena of possibility we once saw as endless has shrunk to almost a single point. My only hope was for my daughter to survive long enough to pull out of this death-defying tailspin. A “good” day became a day with no bad news.

An aphorism attributed to Aristotle goes like this: “We become that which we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not a single act but a habit.”  In one sense this has alarming implications for our kids. What are they becoming? Certainly not contributing members of a family or a community or a society.

We shuttled from one social service agency to another. Once, in the terribly awkward moment after my daughter had stormed out of a consultation, I lamented to the counselor that I felt helpless to do anything for her. She assured me that I was indeed doing the best thing I could possibly do. That was a simple and powerful message that kept me going when it seemed like all hope was lost.

Ultimately my daughter had been offered a number of short-term programs and rejected them all in favour of going to PRI. I believe she must have known in her heart that six weeks of group counseling was not going make a dent in her decline.

One thing that impressed me about the staff at PRI, from the rocky initiation in the woods, through the long residential phase, through to the aftercare, was their ability to see through the defiance, the layers of drama and deceptiveness and see that essential good kid within, with a heart and a head that I had lost track of in all the turmoil.

I also want to acknowledge the role of the other kids in the community. When my daughter went AWOL and ended up in a youth shelter, PRI was able to get a message to her. It was simply a package of letters that her team members, her peers, had written expressing their love and concern for her. It made all the difference in her decision to return to PRI, even though it meant starting all over again in the woods.

Doing the work that is done at PRI is difficult. You can’t throw dozens of these kids into a facility and expect things to go smoothly or flawlessly. It is not a single act performed on a given day that represents the turning point, although there are plenty of those along the way. What has made the difference for my kid, going back to Aristotle, is the habit of excellence practiced at PRI.

 Is life after PRI perfect? No. But it is once again a life with possibility. For this I am grateful.”

Silent Auction for Pine River at the Trail Run Relay

There will be a Silent Auction at the Trail Run Relay this Sunday, with all proceeds going towards Pine River’s Help Make A Home Campaign.  Included in the auction are these beautiful creations from artists Stephanie and Frank Vandermey.  You can check them out in person at the event.  Thanks Vandermeys!

Last Chance to Register

The TREAD 6-Hour Trail Run Relay is THIS WEEKEND, Sunday, May 27th.  Registration closes at midnight on Thursday, May 24th.  If you’re signing up, this is your last chance - head on over to

This week's training tip from Coach Paul

“In order to do well in your race, you need to know your Pace”

In long distance running, pace is very important. Runners should try to avoid going out too fast, especially too early. Going out too slow can also be a bad thing - you can use more energy to run slowly and often offers diminished returns.

You should be running at a very comfortable pace and avoid running a faster pace than you can maintain. If you are running solo or several relay legs, you should WALK up the hills and save the running for flats and downhills (although while training, running up hills is helpful for muscle building and endurance). 

Having a good strategy regarding your pace before you start will help guarantee a successful finish.

We are getting close to race day and everyone training should be running on tired legs to prepare oneself for race day. 

Soon enough, we will be brushing shoulders at the start line. Keep up the training. We are almost done.

Awesome Schedule of Events for May 27th

We’re less than 3 weeks away from the big day!  If you haven’t yet registered to participate, head on over to PineRiverInstitute.comearly bird rates end May 13th. 

There are many ways to participate in the TREAD 6 Hour Trail Run Relay for Pine River on May 27th, 2012.  It will be a great event for families, kids, competitive runners, first-time joggers, and leisurely meander-ers alike!  The 4km trail will be open from 10 am until 4 pm – during this time you and your teammates can complete as many (or as few) laps of the course as you want.  When you’re not on the trail you can enjoy live music, kids activities, yoga, storytelling, delicious food, and more!

Artist Frank Vandermey just completed a beautiful wood sculpture on our main campus.  Some of his creations will be available in a silent auction at the Tread 6-Hour Trail Run Relay for Pine River on May 27th.

Thank you Frank!!

May 14th @ 6:30 pm: When Does Adolescent Behaviour Cross a Line?

Join clinical director Dr. Victoria Creighton and founder Dr. Karen Minden on Monday, May 14th at 6:30 pm for this session, held at Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto.  

“It’s important to treat the whole person”

Our clinical director Dr. Victoria Creighton was interviewed by Andrea Gordon for an article in the Toronto Star. Follow the link to read:  “Teens Facing Addiction and Mental Illness Need Services That Treat Both.”

At Pine River Institute we are working to create our own local food system. We have a garden just outside the school that produces vegetables for the kitchen.  Students can enroll in an experiential high school course called “Forests and Farms” that focuses on sustainable food production. 

The garden season is well under way here. The garden has been tilled and students planted pea, carrot, radish, beet, and kale seeds.  Also, many of our perennial plants have sprung up, including rhubarb pictured here.

This week's training tip from Coach Paul

When running for periods longer than an hour, it is essential to have a fuel plan. A fuel plan helps ensure that you don’t make mistakes as fatigue sets in and keeps you running strongly. You should start the race properly fueled and then take in about 150 calories every 45 minutes until you are done running. Sports gels are a popular option. However, you should try sports gels during your training to find what works for you. 

Also remember that eating too much before a race can lead to cramping. Try to avoid fatty foods and high protein foods, as these both take longer to digest and use water in the body to break them down.

Keep Moving!

Coach Paul

"The Spirit of Harriet Tubman" play

Yesterday students from the Pine River Institute attended a play entitled “The Spirit of Harriet Tubman”. Hosted by the Wellington County Museum, the play features Leslie McCurdy who recreates the familiar and rarely told stories of the famous Underground Railway “conductor”.  This one-woman show used Harriet’s own words in telling the story of her life from her earliest experiences as a slave, through her work on the underground railroad, to her continued commitment to others in her later years.  The play taught PRI students to follow your dreams and not let other people’s fears get in your way.