Laura Kemper, LCSW
"Creating a safe and comfortable environment for new families to share their story is a critical component of the admissions process. The rapport created in this first step is essential in establishing a trusting relationship with our families who are taking a giant leap of faith in professionals they have just met. They deserve an award as does their child for being so brave and courageous!"Read More Read Less
- Master of Social Work, University of Utah
- Bachelor of Science, Speech-Language Pathology and Hearing Science, University of Utah
- Licensed Clinical Social Worker
"The truth is: Belonging starts with self-acceptance. Your level of belonging, in fact, can never be greater than your level of self-acceptance, because believing that you are enough is what gives you the courage to be authentic, vulnerable and imperfect."
-Dr. Brene Brown, LCSW
Gateway Academy provides a safe and nurturing environment for students to begin their journey of self-acceptance. This is the first step in their emotional growth experience to heal their relationship with themselves as well as their relationship with their family.
Laura started her professional career as a social worker in the emergency department providing crisis intervention to those needing emergency care. Her entry into private treatment began as an assistant therapist at a therapeutic wilderness program working with adolescent boys. Later, Laura worked as an educational consultant guiding families in need through the treatment process. This ultimately lead her to what she enjoys the most...Admissions. Laura's passion lies in working closely with families during the emotionally-draining admissions process. She has a natural ability to connect with others, create a comfortable atmosphere and reduce the anxiety associated with placing a child in treatment.
When Laura isn't working, you will find her spending time with her husband, 2 dogs and her very energetic set of twins. She enjoys the great outdoors, creating art and jewelry using warm glass as her medium and trying to keep her mind, body and soul in shape to keep up with her kids and life. Laura has a lust for life and enjoys going to new places to vacation...mostly the beach!
Melissa Hickman, LCSW
Marketing Director and Co-Owner
"Unless they feel safe, troubled adolescents can't begin to deal with their issues. To me, that makes sense; why would they risk? From the beginning, my goal with Gateway was to help create that safe place, and to staff it with extraordinary people who can provide the very best individualized treatment. As an owner, a therapist and a mom, I'm proud to say that's just what we've done."Read More Read Less
- Master of Social Work, Brigham Young University
- Bachelor of Science, Social Work, Brigham Young University
- Licensed Clinical Social Worker
- Psychotherapist in outpatient and residential settings since 1991
For Melissa, there is no panacea—no single therapeutic approach— that can successfully treat all issues. She knows that adopting one therapeutic style may seem easier, but it just doesn't work. For her, each boy and his family are different from the next, with individual issues to sort through and deal with. Because there are only 16 boys in each Gateway home, the staff has the time and the resources to make personalized decisions about every student's therapy, education, and community involvement. And everyone at Gateway—from the house staff and outdoor team to the dedicated teachers and therapists—is highly invested in each young man who walks through its door.
As Melissa observed the successes and shortcomings of the many various therapeutic approaches in her long career, her vision for a place like Gateway grew. She has been a therapist for at-risk youth since 1991, serving in every capacity, including private practice, wilderness therapist, runway shelter therapist, and clinical director. As the Admissions Director for Gateway, she carefully evaluates every applicant. She then plays an active role with the Gateway team to determine the best treatment program for each boy. Melissa believes it takes a village to achieve success, and credits the entire team for making the dream of Gateway a reality.
Melissa likes to press the boundaries of her world by exploring other places and cultures. She then hurries home again to spend time with her grandchildren. Melissa also enjoys knitting, scuba diving, and remodeling houses.
Creating Student Success
Melissa recalls working with one of Gateway's first students. He was using drugs, expressing animosity toward his family, and performing poorly at school. In short, he was spinning out of control. His confrontational behavior continued for the first few months at Gateway, but gradually treatment began to gain traction. He discovered a love for bouldering in the outdoor education program, and he learned to apply himself academically. Melissa observed that as he gained confidence and stability, his relationship with his parents and siblings improved. Since leaving Gateway, he has graduated from college and now competes in bouldering.
"One of the best things about Gateway is how integrated our teams are. This ensures that your son is cared for, and supported by, every staff who gets the opportunity to work with him. Prior to my position as Admissions Counselor, I had the opportunity to work at Gateway as a staff mentor for two years. This provided me with a great appreciation and understanding of the journey our boys and their families go through. Additionally, as a mother, I put myself in the shoes of each parent that faces the circumstances resulting in the need to place their son out of the home into our care. Now in my position as part of the Admission team, I hope to utilize my understanding and experiences to help support parents in their decision to enroll thier son at Gateway and I hope to guide you with warmth and empathy every step of the way."
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