Clinical Approach

Stemming from the belief that there is no such thing as a bad child, our strength-based approach focuses on the positives in each student. We work to develop healthy relationships, attitudes and environments. Students at Starr participate in individual and group therapies, family counseling sessions designed to encourage healthy communication and much more.

Circle of Courage

The philosophy behind our strength-based approach is the Circle of Courage®, which is founded on the four universal needs of every child: Belonging, Mastery, Independence and Generosity. The Circle of Courage model addresses the needs and problems of each individual, and fosters healing and growth through interventions held in an atmosphere of respect and growth. These interventions are trauma-informed and resilience-focused, designed to encourage kids to feel safe and comfortable in an environment of understanding and acceptance. 

Benefits to a strength-based approach

There are many benefits of a strength-based approach to positive youth development, including:

  • Positive social development
  • Increased resiliency
  • Strong therapeutic relationship
  • Improved coping skills
  • Increased social support network within families

The Starr Difference

This is the story of Javon, a graduate from a Starr residential program. Coming from a foster home and having little contact with his birth family, Javon was a quiet, depressed and introverted kid. He felt that he couldn’t trust anyone and acted out in school and at home. He dropped out of high school his junior year and worked two jobs. “After awhile I didn’t think anyone cared about me.” Entering Starr’s program, Javon began to open up, becoming more comfortable with himself and trusting his counselors. “I started to look at the Starr staff like they were mother and father figures in my life.” Starr helped Javon get his G.E.D., go on college tours and turn his life around. He developed a strong relationship with his father, and he is able to openly discuss the stresses and issues in his life with his family. “I’ve learned that there are people out there who do care for others, and that it is never too late to turn your life around. I am very proud about how far I’ve come and hope to make others proud by getting a degree and accomplishing my career goals later on in life.”

We See Something Good in Every Child

As part of our goal to help children, Starr has a variety of training programs to help therapists, educators and other professionals learn techniques for helping children cope with trauma and other challenges. These programs specialize in helping traumatized children, showing teens the good in themselves, and transforming how adults and children relate to each other through racial healing.


The National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children™ (TLC) is a training program with a wealth of informative articles, conferences, webinars, activities and more, designed to train professionals in helping children through traumatic experiences. Learn more about TLC »

Youth Development

Reclaiming Youth International provides trainings to professionals working with youth utilizing the strength-based, Circle of Courage model to cultivate support, respect and understanding for youth that have behavioral, academic or emotional challenges. Learn more about Reclaiming Youth International »

Racial Healing

Starr Commonwealth created Glasswing® as a catalyst to starting the conversation around racism. This program works toward teaching people the meaning of true transparency when it comes to race, showing participants the meaning of the oneness of humankind. Learn more about Glasswing »


Your gift to Starr Commonwealth will help vulnerable families transform their lives. Every dollar goes directly to helping children, adults, families and communities thrive through proven, strength-based programs. Giving is secure and easy and will bring help and hope to children and their families.

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