The Little Warriors Be Brave Ranch is a specialized, intensive, trauma-informed, evidence-based treatment centre focused on helping children who have been sexually abused, as well as their families.

The Be Brave Ranch program offers a one-year combined onsite and outpatient program designed with significant input from many leading academic and clinical experts who specialize in child sexual abuse and trauma.

Our approach

The Be Brave Ranch treatment program is based on an intensive episodes of treatment. The treatment for the children begins with a 28-day stay at the Be Brave Ranch for children aged 8-12 and a 12-day stay for girls aged 13-16. During their initial intensive intervention, children are placed in a peer group or “cohort”, which helps them create strong bonds and encourages greater support.

Throughout the year, children return to the Ranch for three additional intensive interventions for 12 days to continue their face-to-face therapy and reconnect with their cohort in person.

In between stays, children work with the clinical team on an outpatient basis and in collaboration with resources in their community. The Be Brave Ranch team values work with other community agencies and supports to address the needs of children, youth and families across the continuum of care.

Our cohort model

At the Be Brave Ranch, therapy is provided in an enriched camp-like environment where children also have lots of fun.

Being part of a cohort helps each child recognize that they are not alone and connects them with peers who have experienced similar traumas. The children form long-term relationships with deep bonds that help to facilitate the healing process.

Our treatment program

  • Why our work is important

    To maximize opportunities for healthy life trajectories it is crucial that children receive support to achieve strong mental health.  The balance of behaviors, emotions and thoughts support children’s healthy brain development, and lifelong health.  Strong mental health promotes a positive outlook and enables us all to participate in life and accomplish our goals. It helps us realize our potential, cope with stress, work productively, enjoy strong relationships, and contribute to our communities. Investing in mental health fosters our shared prosperity and helps all of us achieve our full potential. It also helps us prevent, address and overcome related societal challenges, such as homelessness and involvement with the criminal justice system.  When we prioritize health and wellbeing, we help everyone reach their full potential and contribute to their communities. If we invest in systems to ensure all people are able to get the treatment they need, we will have a healthier, and stronger society.

  • Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

    Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are stressful events experienced by a child before they reach the age of 18. Research has consistently shown that exposure to toxic stress in childhood related to ACEs can result in negative health outcomes in adulthood involving physical, behavioral and social issues which can last a lifetime. The 10 most commonly researched ACEs are: Sexual abuse, verbal abuse, physical abuse, physical neglect, emotional neglect, parental separation, household mental illness, household domestic violence, household drug or alcohol abuse and incarceration of a household member.

    An ACE score is determined by answering a series of questions related to childhood experiences in each category. As a person’s ACE score increases so does their likelihood of negative health outcomes in adulthood. It is important to recognize that outcomes will not be the same for every individual, but it is evident that both prevention and early intervention can be crucial to an individual’s lifelong wellbeing.

    Stress is one of the forces that shapes brain architecture in a developing child. Whether it strengthens or weakens brain architecture has to do with the kind of stress, it’s intensity and duration, and whether supportive caregivers are present in the child’s life. “Toxic stress” occurs when no supportive caregivers are around to buffer the body’s response to repeated negative experiences. Things that cause toxic stress may include abuse, neglect, parental addiction, violence outside the home, or chaotic environments. Experiencing a chronic stressful condition such as neglect or abuse is what scientists call toxic stress and can disrupt developing brain architecture. This can lead to lifelong difficulties in learning, memory and self-regulation. Children who are exposed to serious early stress develop an exaggerated stress response that, over time, weakens their defense system against diseases, from heart disease to diabetes and depression. When we don’t attend to these important aspects of development promptly, there are serious consequences later.

    Trying to change behavior or build new skills on a foundation of brain circuits that were not wired properly when they were first formed requires more work and can be problematic. This is why Little Warriors works tirelessly to educates adults on how to help prevent child sexual abuse. The Be Brave Ranch is needed to help treat children who have experienced the trauma of child sexual abuse, to help reduce the risk for later physical and mental health problems.

    When we make investments in children and families, the next generation will pay it back through a lifetime of productivity and responsible citizenship. The future prosperity of our communities depend on our ability to foster the health and well-being of the next generation.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9635069/

  • Trauma-informed approach

    The Be Brave Ranch Supports SAMHSA’s key principles of trauma-informed approach:

    • Safety
    • Trustworthiness and transparency
    • Peer support
    • Collaboration and mutuality
    • Empowerment, voice and choice
    • Cultural and historical sensitivities
    • Gender sensitivities
  • Therapeutic modalities

    Our multi-modal therapy program includes the following:

    • Trauma-informed individual, group, and family therapy and supports
    • Trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy (TF-CBT) and dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) for adolescents program informed interventions
    • Somatic Therapeutic Interventions
    • Expressive therapies (art, psychodrama, music)
    • Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) and animal-assisted activities (AAA)
    • Indigenous Elder teachings and community cultural liaison
    • Therapeutic milieu and peer (cohort) support, including recreation
    • Neuro-feedback (brain-training neuroscience technology)
    • EMDR
    • Yoga and mindfulness practices
  • Our team

    Be Brave Ranch - Clinical team

    A professional interdisciplinary group of psychologists, social workers, child care counsellors (ranas), pharmacy supports, and various significant community supports and volunteers make up the team at the Be Brave Ranch.

    Clinical work is overseen by a Research and Clinical Oversight Committee (composed of researchers, child and adolescent psychiatrists, practitioners, etc.) to ensure evidence-based and leading clinical practices.

    Facility trauma dog

    The newest member of our clinical team is Rugby, our facility trauma dog at the Be Brave Ranch. As co-therapist, Rugby supports individual therapy, group therapy and family sessions. He enhances our trauma-informed healing environment by participating and providing relational supports, sensing and supporting positive emotional regulation, and providing healthy touch and therapeutic play opportunities.

  • Clinical supervision and compassionate fatigue support

    Clinical supervision and compassionate fatigue support

    Case conceptualization:

    In this meeting, the Clinical Director guides the clinical staff in developing preliminary clinical hypotheses to help explain children’s feelings and behaviours and ensure appropriate interventions.

    Case conference:

    In this meeting, the Clinical Director guides the clinical staff in refining their understanding of what is motivating children’s feelings and behaviours in order to better implement effective interventions.

    Clinical debrief:

    In this meeting, the Clinical Director assists the clinical staff in processing the learning of the previous 28 days and developing their understanding of traumatology.

    Ongoing compassion fatigue “pod” meetings:

    Ongoing supervision to support “Ranas”/Child and Youth Care workers where they are at.

  • Clinical screening

    The Clinical Team reviews applications to determine whether the applicant meets the inclusion/exclusion criteria for admission to the Ranch.

    Minimum requirements (inclusion criteria) for attending Be Brave Ranch

    • Aged 8-12 years old (boys and girls), and girls aged 13-16
    • History of child sexual abuse (and has been reported)
    • Must be in good physical health
    • Developmentally able to be in a treatment facility
    • Psychologically minded and able to benefit from therapy
    • Able to perform the skills required for daily living

    Exclusion criteria for attending Be Brave Ranch

    • Severe mental health issues, requiring hospitalization
    • Has risk of running away
    • Serious behavioural problems
    • Extensive or significant use of drugs or alcohol
    • History of sexual violence or sexual behaviour towards others
    • Significant interactions with police
    • Unstable medical condition
  • Evidence-based and leading clinical practices

    Evidence-based and leading clinical practices

  • Referral process for intensive treatment

    Referral process for intensive treatment

  • Course of treatment

    Course of treatment

  • Ongoing outcome measures
    • Child and caregiver satisfaction
    • Staff satisfaction
    • PTSD
    • Mood – depression and anxiety measures
    • Quality of life – self-esteem, resiliency
    • Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

The lifelong and debilitating effects of child sexual abuse are often overlooked. Children who have been sexually abused have been shown to develop a number of psychiatric disorders and negative behaviours, including:

  • Guilt, shame and self-blame
  • Low self-esteem and anxiety
  • Depression, self-harm and suicidal thoughts
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Sexual promiscuity and prostitution
  • Difficulty trusting others
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Criminal and violent behavior