Our Model of Care

An Innovative, One-of-a-Kind Approach

It’s about the whole person – not just a diagnosis. We support each individual’s goals and desires, removing barriers to success. Our unique approach includes:

1,321 Assessment Metrics

Extensive Family Intake Process

QEEG Brain Map Measures the Electrical Activity and Connectivity Patterns within the Brain

Client-Centered Individualized Programs

Roadmap to Success

Attention to learning styles and social interaction opportunities supports academic success and future independence. Safe social environments with strong interpersonal connections enable the brain to achieve learning and new growth, preventing fight, flight or freeze trauma responses.

Every day, clients experience restoration, transformation, and movement toward healing, realizing these milestones.

Managing emotions and behaviors

New and enhanced motor skills


Independently advocating for their well-being

Academic success

Meaningful interpersonal relationships with peers and family

Achieving independence within home, school, and work environments

Establishing communication abilities and meaningfully communicating with others

Transforming Lives Through the Union of Science & Love

The Interpersonal Whole-Brain Model of Care® (IWBMC™) is built upon the scientific principle of neuroplasticity – that the brain can change regardless of age, diagnosis, or level of functioning. Building on this science, the IWBMC™, our proprietary educational model, transforms lives and expands the traditional understanding of the brain’s capacity to heal and grow.

At Jacob’s Ladder, we understand the complex interplay between brain health, efficiency, and organization while acknowledging an individual’s physiological health and well-being, learning style, and emotional-behavioral-relational experiences.
With over three decades of experience in evaluating and serving clients struggling with neurodevelopmental challenges, this interplay is critical to understanding and achieving integration of the whole person.

A unique, difference-making combination

Amy O’Dell, the Founder and CEO of The Jacob’s Ladder Group and creator of the methodology, along with her dedicated team of professionals, demonstrates that healing comes at the intersection of science and love. Amy’s son, Jacob – the organization’s namesake – ignited the journey nearly 30 years ago that is today Jacob’s Ladder and its methodology. Unwavering in the quest for healing and intervention, Amy and Jacob did not give up when the impossibilities seemed to surmount the possibilities. The trademarked and internationally recognized Interpersonal Whole Brain Model of Care® has resulted in over 4,000 individuals receiving hope in possibility since the founding of Jacob’s Ladder in 1998.

The IWBMC™ starts with comprehensive neurodevelopmental assessments to guide multifocal individualized therapeutic and educational plans that lead to brain growth, healing, and wholeness.

The IWBMC™ Evaluation

The IWBMC™ facilitates the delivery of transformative, customized programs based on a unique and in-depth evaluation process. Using the IWBMC™ Evaluation Process is the primary focus as we delineate the root causes of developmental delays, functional limitations, or emotional-behavioral challenges. The IWBMC™ Neurodevelopmental Evaluation metrics provide critical information and insight into the brain’s current state of organization or disorganization. This specific knowledge allows the therapeutic-educational plan to target the true source of the difficulty with adequate frequency and intensity to make lasting changes in the brain.

Each element represented in the IWBMC™ is assessed through direct testing measures, using 1,321 assessment metrics encompassing the seven domains of the IWBMC™. The assessment metrics analyze neurodevelopmental aspects—often the root of systemic challenges—combined with standardized academic assessments, clinical observation, parent and guardian reporting, provider feedback, and qEEG Analysis.

Elements of the IWBMC™

Spirit & Will: Each client's spirit and will reside in the center of the Interpersonal Whole-Brain Model of Care®. We view each client as unique, with their spirit or will at the core of who they are. This innermost part is where the desire for belonging, connection, and the experience of being known and understood exists.

Neurodevelopmental: The Neurodevelopmental Profile is part of the IWBMC™ Evaluation and is a compilation of critical developmental milestones and various assessment measures corroborated by years of experience and scientific evidence regarding neurodevelopmental progression and the neuroplastic nature of the brain. Starting with a rigorous and comprehensive assessment of an individual’s neurological function, the IWBMC™ evaluates the strengths and challenges of each client’s distinctive and current brain functioning while observing key neurodevelopmental indicators.

Physiological: A unique feature of the IWBMC™ is acknowledging the intricate connection between a client’s health, wellness, and neurological state. While traditional perspectives on developmental or neurological diagnoses separate these components, we are at the forefront of connecting these clinical areas, recognizing that neurophysiological integration is paramount when implementing a brain-based approach.

Emotional-Behavioral-Relational: In some cases, emotional-behavioral-relational challenges present complexities that can impact success in all other areas. Our model thoroughly examines the emotional-behavioral-relational history of each client who enters our program. The IWBMC™ provides the framework for a well-integrated plan to address the core issues identified in the assessment process. Additionally, the IWBMC’s™ Trauma Support Model acknowledges histories of trauma, trauma’s maladaptive impacts on the brain, and a therapeutic way to transform the adverse effects of traumatic experiences.

Learning Style: Jacob’s Ladder strives to change the conversation globally around the educational and vocational possibilities available to those who experience brain-based challenges. To maximize a client’s potential, the IWBMC™ uses the client’s learning style, academic readiness and ability, and level of independence to adapt interventions and resources, aiding and enhancing each client’s unique learning process. Regardless of age, beginning with childhood and continuing through adulthood, building levels of independence is crucial to navigating aspects of daily life and finding hope and purpose in future endeavors such as community involvement, vocational training, or post-secondary opportunities.

Social Structure: As the IWBMC™ views each area as a cohesive part of the whole system, we also must consider the importance of a client’s social structure and surrounding environment. Social structure encompasses dynamics and individuals within the client’s home, school, or community that form consistent and meaningful interactions in their life. Thus, IWMBC™ emphasizes that delivery of care must occur in a safe, supportive environment to be truly effective.

Integration of The Whole Person: From the outermost layer inward, true individual integration is possible when hope, perseverance, and a balance of science and love unite. The outer ring of the IWBMC™ encompasses each of its inner layers, emphasizing every area required for integration. Taking an intentional, all-encompassing, and brain-based approach to examine and execute a targeted action plan for clients navigating these difficulties is the mission of Jacob’s Ladder and the IWBMC™.

The IWBMC™ has transformed the lives of thousands of families and clients, connecting science and love to achieve outstanding, replicable results backed by nearly three decades of data.

Methodically Measured & Evaluated

IWBMC™ programming interventions are measured and evaluated methodically to ensure integrity, quality, and consistency of care.

Nationally Recognized Requirements

Programming and intervention outcomes are validated using educational and clinical measurement tools to integrate with nationally recognized standards.

Continuous Assessment Technology

QEEG technology is used to assess needs, goals, and progress alongside programming to provide functional baseline and comparative neuroimaging data.

Serving Various Neurobiological Challenges

“I write to express my full support and admiration for the amazing work that occurs at Jacob’s Ladder Neurodevelopmental School and Therapy Center and for its Director, Amy O’Dell. In my work as Director of the Emory+Children’s Cystic Fibrosis Center of Excellence, I am very aware of what is required to meet and maintain the highest standards of excellence and performance, and I can state with pleasure that I believe that the programs and methodology at Jacob’s Ladder meet that caliber of excellence. Meeting Ms. O’Dell and her dedicated team has been a great pleasure, and upon doing so, I immediately became a very big fan and have remained so. All individuals and families that need the unique and comprehensive neurodevelopmental treatment provided by Jacob’s Ladder should have access to it, yet the demand for their services is outpacing their current capacity. Hence, the growth plan is very exciting in that it addresses critical needs. I wholeheartedly support Jacob’s Ladder’s efforts to expand direct and remote services through the Hope Campaign.”

– Nael A. McCarty, Ph.D., Marcus Professor of Cystic Fibrosis, PACS Division, Dept. of Pediatrics, Emory University School of Medicine, Dir., Emory+Children’s Cystic Fibrosis Center of Excellence

Learn About Our Caregiver Training in the IWBMC™

Explore Training Opportunities for Professionals

Get Certified in the IWBMC™

Opportunities for Professionals Using the IWBMC™

Learn more about how the IWBMC™ can help your loved one or community.

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