Evidence-Based Model

By Trenna Ahlstrom


RedCliff Ascent has one of the longest histories of helping teens and families in the industry. Not only do we know our program is effective because we see the transformation in teens, and receive letters from families whose lives have been changed; our program has also been scientifically validated as effective. Moreover, no other program in the industry has conducted more research.


RedCliff Ascent uses a clinically proven Integrated Care, Evidence-Based treatment model. With the help of Executive Director Steve DeMille, this entry will describe our Evidence-Based model, and explain why having an Evidence-Based model is so important.

Using Current Research

Because research is an ever-changing field, RedCliff Ascent strives to remain aware of the best research evidence.


“The best research evidence refers to scientific results related to intervention strategies, assessment, clinical problems, and patient populations found in the research literature,” said Dr. DeMille.


In addition to maintaining an awareness of current research outcomes, RedCliff Ascent has completed more than a dozen studies that demonstrate the program’s effectiveness.


“Most wilderness programs still lean on anecdotal evidence which is subject to confirmation bias. Most wilderness programs feel good about their services and they believe it works but they have not done the hard work to actually know if their services are helping families,” said Dr. DeMille. “At RedCliff, we can show objectively that the services that we provide work for families.”

Therapists Practicing their Expertise

“Clinical expertise is used to integrate the best research evidence with the unique client being treating,” said Dr. DeMille.


According to Dr. DeMille, there are three keys to effective adolescent treatment. First, the treatments must be appropriate to the teen’s developmental level. Second, the treatment must encourage the teen to be more resilient. Finally, the treatment must focus on developing the teen’s strengths. All the clinical staff are trained in these three pillars of adolescent treatment.


Also, each clinician working at RedCliff Ascent has a minimum of a Master’s degree. In addition, each therapist specializes in working with adolescent-specific issues. For example, therapists specialize in substance use disorders, behavioral problems, emotional disorders, and trauma. Moreover, our therapists treat process additions like gaming and internet addictions.


“An Evidence-Based practice is nothing without a therapist that can apply his expertise,” said Dr. DeMille. “Also, that Evidence-Based practice must work for that particular client.”

Valuing the Clients’ Preferences

“Finally, treatment services are most effective when they are responsive to the client’s specific problems, strengths, personality, sociocultural context, and preferences,” said Dr. DeMille.


Young men and women come to RedCliff Ascent from all across the United States and abroad. There is always a diverse group of adolescents, each with a distinct background and history. As a result, the therapists know the importance of considering a client’s preferences. Furthermore, cultural sensitivity is necessary to work effectively with the teens and their families.


“Being culturally sensitive means considering all aspects of a client’s worldview when interacting with them and selecting treatment approaches. Additionally, this means being aware of your own personal biases, beliefs, and attitudes while working with an adolescent,” said Dr. DeMille.  


RedCliff Ascent has invested time and effort into developing an effective, clinically effective treatment model. Out of respect for the families who are entrusting us with their son or daughter, we could do nothing less. As a result of our experience and research efforts, we are confident that our program has the ability to transform lives.