In late 2009 a girl named Kirsty was brought to see David, our founder, for therapy because she was sexually assaulted by her best friend's dad. While seeing David, Kirsty had a very serious suicide attempt that caused her to go to the University of Utah Hospital Inpatient Mental Health (HIMH) (formerly UNI). While she was there, she participated in group therapy with other teens who looked nothing like her and she would’ve never hung out with in school. While in the group sessions she made close friends/connections because she was able to relate to their hurt and pain despite their obvious differences in race, religion, and sexual orientation. Once Kirsty got out of HIMH and went back to seeing David, she told David what she felt other teenagers needed to help overcome their mental health struggles. This sparked David’s curiosity. Not just because he specialized in teens, but this was the first time Kirsty sat up and showed excitement since she began therapy. Kirsty in previous sessions would always come in looking gloomy and wrapped up in a blanket over her clothing to help her feel secure and safe. This conversation was the first time Kirsty took the blanket off and this caught David’s attention.
Kirsty told David the following, “Teens need a place where they can hang out, be honest, set aside personal differences in order to effectively give and receive support with their various life struggles."
She was adamant that in order for it to be successful it needed the following.
The groups had to be a place teens wanted to hang out and go to instead of being a group they were forced to go to by parents, schools, courts, or a therapist.
It couldn't carry any sort of mental health label such as teen depression, anxiety, trauma, or suicide survivor group.
It needed to work similarly to therapy to help teens, but it couldn't feel like therapy, otherwise a large majority of teens may not want to go.
It had to be for free so teens didn't have to ask their parents/guardians to pay for it.
It had to be a public place where teens would normally hang out such as a community rec center.
David was taking notes and nodding his head and stated he couldn’t agree more.
It was at that moment, Kirsty said, "Okay you will do it then?"
In which David replied, "Excuse me?"
Kirsty responded by saying, “Since you have helped teens for years, you know a bunch of teens who are struggling and I assume all their parents love you, just like my parents do. So if anyone could pull it off it would be you."
Even though David was unsure how he could pull this off he quickly responded with, "Of course, I'll do it!"
Kirsty was ecstatic!
Once Kirsty left his office, David thought, “How in the hell am I going to do this? What Kirsty described to me, technically doesn't fall under mental health therapy so I wouldn't be covered by insurance through my license as a therapist. Which means if something goes wrong I could potentially lose everything I have worked for."
Despite this, David knew what Kirsty described was exactly what he had always believed teenagers needed.
Combining the best elements of group therapy with all the amazing benefits of healthy peer support to create a hybrid model to address the needs of youth in the new millennium. Plus, David couldn't say no after everything Kirsty had been through. Not only did he sit in hours of intense personal therapy with her, he also sat with her in the courtroom while she confronted her perpetrator. Seeing Kirsty having a belief she could turn her pain into a purpose that could benefit other teens and herself was far too powerful for David to not take the risk of starting this type of social support group.
When David reached out to his mentor and other mental health professionals, they confirmed this was a huge risk. They told him it was too dangerous of a venture to put struggling teens with unpredictable behavior and raging hormones and assume nothing would go wrong.
Despite the conversation with other professionals, David came up with a model that bridged the gap between mental health and social relationships. He then called a number of parents that trusted him with their teens and told them the situation and what he was about to do. To David’s surprise, the parents thought it would be great and they had full faith in him to run the group ethically and safely.
Once the groups started growing through peer to peer referrals, David did a focus group to allow the teens to come up with the name which they felt best represented what the group meant to them. The teens choose the name Quit Trip’n because one of the group members received a big applause after she stated the following, "This group reminds me when you are hanging out with our best friend and talk about all the tough things you are going through and when you are done, all the stuff you were stressed and worried about go away and you just kinda Quit Trip’n."
After 10 years, hundreds of teens have said the group helped them with their ability to build, maintain, and improve relationships with friends, family, online relationships, and the relationship with themselves. Causing them to have a drastic increase in their mental and emotional well-being and a significant decrease in issues with addiction, self-harm, and in some cases an elimination of suicide ideations.
David Kozlowski is from Carlsbad, CA, and is a former University of Utah wide receiver. David is a licensed marriage and family therapist who has worked in mental health for over 23 years. David is the host of the Light The Fight podcast which has had millions of downloads and helps parents all around the world. He has had a ESPN 700 radio show, a KSL podcast, regularly featured on KSL Studio 5, he also has a Ted Talk on parent-teen relationships and is the creator of the first Social Health Curriculum at Herriman High School. David serves as the Executive director of Quit Trip’n.
Heidi Swapp is a busy wife and mom to 5 amazing kids ranging from 20-10 years old. She is the creative force behind her own brand of signature DIY craft and memory keeping products which can be found throughout the world online, in boutique and craft stores everywhere. Heidi has a personal passion to help parents find ways to help and support their kids with their individual struggles, and improve parent/teen relationships.
Don P. Newman has been the Chief Financial Officer of Headwaters Incorporated since December of 2010. Prior to joining Headwaters, Don served as Interim Chief Financial Officer or Vice President—Corporate Controller of Board Longyear Limited, the world’s leading integrated drilling services and minerals industry manufacturing company, from October 2006 to December 2010.
Edwin Garrette was born and raised in San Diego. He attended the University of Utah and was a member of the football team from 1992-1994. He graduated in 1995 with a Bachelor degree in Sociology. Upon graduation, he returned to San Diego and worked at a local group home for disadvantaged youth. He was hired by the San Diego County Probation Department two years later. He was a juvenile probation officer for two years working extensively with troubled youth. He was hired by San Diego Police Department in 1999 and has been assigned to the following assignments: crime suppression team, SWAT, juvenile services, and community relations. Currently he is a Police Sergeant in charge of downtown San Diego. He has been recognized by the San Diego Padres, San Diego Chargers, and the San Diego Police Department for his outstanding service and leadership to the children of San Diego.
Fisi Moleni, LCSW, received his Masters Degree from the University of Utah. He has worked with LDS Family Services for over 11 years, focusing on treatment for pornography addition and other mental health issues. He had a very diverse experience in working full time with the Asian Association where he focused on substance abuse treatment as well as domestic violence.
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