Team Fourteen: Changing Teen Lives in Eastern Massachusetts

Author: Guest

Our guest blogger for this post is Maureen McElhinny with Beth Israel Lahey Health Behavioral Services

Substance use for adolescents can escalate from a dangerous discovery to a heartbreaking dependency, putting youth at long-term risk and damaging families and whole communities.

Team Fourteen is a group of clinicians who serve adolescents and their families with emerging substance use concerns in Essex County, MA. It is a pioneering project of Lahey Health Behavioral Services (LHBS) that is already having a positive community impact. The initiative offers group and individual counseling as well as training and consultations for schools and other community providers.

Three years ago, the Tower Foundation provided seed funding of $264,000 to launch this proactive community initiative. The group provides early intervention for youth and their families at a time when they need it most.

“Team Fourteen is there to support youth and families at critical junctures,” said Lea Forster, Director of LHBS’s Team Fourteen. “When youth are first showing signs of substance use or when they are beginning recovery after hospital-based treatment, we are there, reducing obstacles to treatment by offering adolescent-friendly counseling. We use the evidenced-based, 14-week Adolescent Community Reinforcement Approach model; provide counseling within their homes; and focus on engaging their caregivers.”

Team Fourteen has been remarkably successful on these counts, serving 171 youth in the program’s first three years and achieving high-quality outcomes. “Based on discharge data, caregiver and adolescent relationships have improved significantly, which is an important protective factor against risky behaviors,” said Forster. “Participants also reported an encouraging uptick in overall life satisfaction as well as a decrease in ambivalence. We are thrilled with these results. Thanks to the philanthropic investment of the Tower Foundation and the support of Program Officer Nick Randell, we are helping youth discover their own path to success.”

Team Fourteen was recently recognized with the 2018 Massachusetts Children’s Behavioral Health Innovation Award. The project has earned a reputation for collaboration with community partners and has recently expanded valuable services to youth and their families in Lawrence and Haverhill, MA.  Importantly, Team Fourteen has earned a contract from the Massachusetts Bureau of Substance Addiction Services, sustaining the venture. The Tower Foundation seed money has created a thriving project with powerful impacts on the well-being of youth and their families. To learn more about LHBS’s Team Fourteen project, visit