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Earthquakes & Mental Health – Resources for families

National Child Traumatic Stress Network –

USGS Earthquake ABC’s –

American Academy of CHild & Adolescent Psychiatry –


Check out these new videos about Alaska Youth Advocates and Little Tykes!


Adult Walk-in Hours

We are pleased to announce that our Adult clinic at 4020 Folker Street now has walk-in hours for new client intakes at the following times:

Mondays:  10 am to 12 noon

Tuesdays: 9 am to 12 noon

Wednesdays: 10 am to 12 noon

Thursdays: 10 am to 12 noon

Fridays: 9:30 am to 11:30 am

ACMHS Clinic at 4020 Folker Street, photo by Kate Yenik 

Prospective patients may also call 563-1000 to schedule an intake, and check back regularly in case of cancellation.

If your are a medical provider or community provider, and have someone to refer for services, please use this ACMHS Adult Referral Form and return it by mail, fax or hand delivery, and our staff will follow up quickly to facilitate intake.


Thank you, Matson!


Matson logo

A huge thank you to Matson for sponsoring participation in winter’s farmers markets for the crew at Alaska Seeds of Change!  Winter markets typically have lower attendance and don’t always cover the costs of paying our youth to staff the booth.  Many thanks to Matson for stepping up to make sure our youth still have this opportunity to develop marketing, customer service and cash handling skills by participating in the markets.  Please visit us at the Midtown Mall, Wednesdays from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm!

ACMHS/FCMHS October 2018 Newsletter

Check out our October Newsletter:  ACMHS Update October 2018

ACMHS/FCMHS September Newsletter

Check out our September Newsletter: ACMHS Update

KTVA Story on Mental Illness Awareness Week

KTVA story on Mental Illness Awareness Week – October 11, 2018


Finding Help with Parenting Challenges at ACMHS

Finding Help with Parenting Challenges
By Jessica Cochran
ACMHS Child and Family Services, October 1, 2018

It’s the last of six evening sessions for this group of five families enrolled in Parenting with Love and Limits® (PLL). That means it’s potluck night, and the younger kids especially can’t wait to load up their plates with sub sandwiches, chips and home-made pasta casserole, carried in with oven mitts by one of the dads.

Once the group settles in, the first task is checking homework. Clinician Ann Conducy queries them – did the parents read the chapter about “restoring nurturance” in their relationships with their kids, how to find the balance between soft love and tough love? Do the teens have “positive parent” moments to report?  This group has done their homework consistently, so each family gets to pick a board game to take home.

PLL is an evidence-based practice that combines family education, skill-building and therapeutic intervention to help reduce aggressive behaviors, depression and substance use among pre-teens and teens. It’s also been shown to reduce recidivism and improve family communication.

Robin and Wilkie T. had been looking for help with their son for years, when they finally got a call to join this PLL group. At twelve years old, he is extremely defiant and has intermittent explosive disorder – he’d  been kicked out of group services elsewhere for being too disruptive, and it was hard to find providers who accept Medicaid.  Robin says the program has given her the power to say no to her son, but in a fair and consistent way.

That’s because it’s built around drawing up a behavior contract between parents and child – so everyone knows exactly what is expected and what the consequence is.  Robin and Wilkie’s son had a major outburst when the contract was first presented, but Wilkie says when he calmed down, he did what it said he needed to do.   Robin has found the tactics she’s learned helpful to keep things from escalating, like “exit and wait” before dealing with an issue.  Over all, she says, “It’s not perfect, but it is better.”

The group meets weekly for six weeks –  sometimes all together and sometimes parents and kids separately, with different activities. Each family also has individual family coaching sessions. They’ll continue to get help until they’ve met the programs graduation requirements and then follow-up calls 30, 60 and 90 days later to check in on how things are going.

Valerie W. is relieved by that – she anticipates needing help refining the contract she wrote with her grand-daughter, and writing new ones for different areas. Mandi and Derek say participating in this program has also opened the doors to other supports: their case manager is helping them connect with other services and activities.  They brought their ten-year old son Quaid and their 12-year-old daughter Selah to group; Selah is the main focus, but they say Quaid needed to be part of the contract also.  One of the most valuable elements, Derek says, was the process of thinking the contract through, talking it out from every point of view and deciding what the consequences will be.

One thing all the parents agreed on – it’s nice to know you’re not alone, that there are other families struggling also. And you can feel the sense of community in the room. Not all the teens at class looked happy to be there, and one didn’t come at all, but there was also a fair share of camaraderie. One girl admitted that while she didn’t love the program and may not be happy that it will be harder now to manipulate her grandmother, she did appreciate the friends she made at group.

Parenting with Love and Limits® is currently accepting families for our family therapy program in Anchorage. If you have a child or teen between the ages of 10-18 with difficult to control or chronically disrespectful behavior, please call Meghan at 762-2814 for more information on how PLL can help.

five potted plants lined up in a row

On the last night of PLL group class, each family receives a plant to emphasize the importance of a nurturing relationship between parents/caregivers and their tweens and teens.



Mental Illness Awareness Week – October 11 Outreach Event

“He has adjusted so much better than almost any person who worked on his case ever hoped.“

When D. first came to live with Karen R. and her husband, he was almost five years old and he had been seriously abused. D.’s care team from the Office of Children’s Services helped connect his new family with services to begin the long road to recovering from that history.  That included therapy through the Alaska Child Trauma Center at ACMHS.

For about two years, D. met with therapist Kristin Mortenson weekly: their primary concern was helping D. feel safe. Karen says those visits were stabilizing, as the family went through the ups and downs of the custody process. A month before his adoption was finalized, it became clear that D. and his family were strong and secure enough together to end the weekly therapy sessions.

ACMHS therapist Kristin Mortenson with D. R.

Karen has kept in touch with many of people who worked to make D. a permanent member of her family and help him recover, sharing photos of family trips and basketball practice, updates about school and piano lessons.  She recently sent a letter to the group, which includes Kristin.

D. has come such a long way in these past eight years!  When he first came to live with John and me, he could not remain in a room without one of us there.  He could not go near a window – too afraid that she would suddenly pop into view.  After several months with us, he could venture out onto our front step, but I had to be standing right there watching, and he turned often to verify that I was still there.  Later on, he ventured further out into our small front yard, but always looking back to make sure I was there by the window.

A few years down the road, he was venturing into our big field with friends and a walkie-talkie on his belt to communicate with me in the house.  Then he discovered a love for the woods and began exploring our five acres with and without friends, never looking back to see if I was at the window and rarely remembering to take along the walkie-talkie.  Now he is such a confident almost 13-year-old. 

You would be so proud to see D. now.  He is so smart and talented.  He plays the piano and clarinet, has a love for science and nature and the Bible, has developed a passion and talent for nature and wildlife photography, and is still the sweetest, most courteous, most gentle boy there ever was.

 So I just wanted to write and say “thank you” again for all you did to free our precious boy from the tortured life he had before June 30, 2010.  He is so confident and loved and cared for, not just by his family, but by all others who come to know him.   Each of you played a very big part in that.

Kristin recalls that working with the family had a significant impact on her path as a therapist, and at the time, a new mother. The foundation of D.’s recovery was through the relationships he developed, with his adoptive parents, providers, and his protectors. His scars came to be understood not just as a symbol of pain but as a symbol of his ability to heal.

In telling her family’s story, Karen emphasized often how much D.’s entire team came to feel like part of the family, with his best interests always in mind.  She thinks people who consider foster-parenting may worry it will be difficult to work with the Office of Children’s Services. But all the staff she worked with were kind and helpful.  Karen and her husband tried to cooperate with whatever they were asked to do, always taking the attitude that D.’s safety and happiness were the primary concern.

Judging by that smile, Karen and John have achieved their goal!

D. is now a budding photographer who hopes to be a photojournalist. He won two Honorable Mentions at the Alaska State Fair.

A younger D. on a family trip to Washington DC to visit with family (and Abe Lincoln’s statue.)