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Secure Treatment Program

The Secure Treatment Program (eight beds) of the Roberts/Smart Centre provides treatment for adolescents with mental health disorders, who have demonstrated that they are a danger to themselves or others and that they require services in a highly secure facility. Admission to the intensive treatment program is prescribed by legislation (Child, Youth and Family Services Act (CYFSA), 2017.

The program offers an on-site classroom, where students are able to earn credits toward their high school diploma while in treatment, through a partnership between the Roberts/Smart Centre and the M.F. McHugh Education Centre.

Length of Stay

Under the legislation, a Judge may order a youth to be committed to the treatment program for a period up to 180 days, which may be extended by judicial order.

Secure Treatment Process

The Roberts/Smart Centre is committed to a treatment process whereby the staff team will assist an individual youth to acquire and maintain skills and competencies necessary to help the youth to cope more effectively with personal and social issues.

This overall philosophy is based on the view that we optimize the functioning of the individual by teaching, coaching, and counselling in a supportive and caring milieu, thereby encouraging and supporting our clients in continued learning, effective, constructive and pro-social ways of behaving when they return to their community.

The therapeutic approach for traumatized, self-harming youth is firstly to help them to adjust to the environment and help them to feel safe and cared for. An individualized program is implemented to address specific needs to help the youth to feel secure and safe. In cases of very high risk behaviour one to one staffing is arranged and paid for by the guardian. The youth then receives individualized attention to ensure his or her safety. It is from this foundation of safety that youth are taught grounding techniques in their clinical sessions to manage the accelerated emotions that accompany trauma and to keep themselves calm and safe by practising self-soothing and emotion regulation. The practice of these techniques by the youth is coached by the front line staff.

Youth meet with their clinician regularly. The clinician and youth work together to set treatment goals that will help with his or her specific needs. An eclectic clinical approach is taken depending on the needs and treatment goals decided upon and may include: cognitive, cognitive behavioural, solution focused, attachment based, strength based, and mindfulness approaches in various modalities such as Art therapy, talk therapy, music therapy and occupational therapy

The psychiatric care of the youth is provided by the Roberts/Smart Centre’s Consulting Psychiatrist who meets with the youth, shortly after intake, to review the youth’s clinical history and medications. Subsequent meetings are on an as-needed basis. The youth can make a request to see the psychiatrist through his or her clinician.

Youth are also involved in a variety of programming that may include theme based therapy or psycho-educational groups, clinical support in the school program, or enrichment activities. Once the youth has stabilized they may be involved in community programs that are available if it is applicable to their treatment goals.

The secure treatment team works collaboratively with the youth and guardians to ensure all essential needs of the youth are met and that they receive the treatment they need to stabilize and progress. The goal is to have the youth discharged from secure treatment and re-enter the community equipped with a skill set for effective decision-making and for maintaining optimal behavioural control and functioning in a less intrusive placement. Progress and discharge planning are discussed at every monthly Plan of Care. Providing an appropriate discharge placement is the responsibility of the guardian.

Recommendations for post discharge supports will be provided by the Roberts/Smart Centre treatment team but will be arranged by the guardian.


The Centre operates two open live-in programs for youth with mental health concerns. These programs are located in urban homes in Ottawa. They exist to provide care in both official languages for those youth whose difficulties are of such a nature as to require treatment on a 24-hour basis. The program capitalizes on the “in-residence” component of intervention in providing a therapeutic milieu and programs related to life style, education and recreation.

These programs are licensed by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, under the Child, Youth and Family Services Act, 2017.


The Roberts/Smart Centre specializes in treating youth with severe mental health and behavioural challenges. Priority is given to those youths with the most critical problems and for whom the Centre is able to provide an appropriate intervention program.

The Centre reserves the right to request an assessment by a psychiatrist or psychologist prior to making a final commitment to admit a young person. The Centre also reserves the right to request an assessment of substance use and addictions concerns prior to making final admission decisions. While substance use/abuse does not always preclude admission, serious addictions issues may require attention prior to admission to our Live-In mental health program.


The Live-In Treatment services are long-term programs and, though duration of stay will vary, the average length of stay is 9 to 12 months.

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