RedCliff vs. Alternatives

Getting help for troubled teens is often a frustrating and emotionally draining endeavor.  Very few parents have any idea of where, when, and how to get appropriate teen help. The problems may include; ADD, ADHD, oppositional defiance disorder, depression, substance abuse, attachment disorder, and many other mood and behavioral disorders. With the availability of so many programs and treatment options, it is easy to become confused.

Every parent has a different threshold of endurance and patience when it comes to helping their troubled teen but they all want the same thing. They want to save their child from the self-destructive attitudes and behaviors that have caused them to be disruptive in the home, at school, and in the community.

In the search for a program, treatment options may include: inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, residential inpatient, residential day treatment, semi-acute hospitalization, therapeutic schools, boot camps, tough love, Outward Bound, military schools, alternative schools, reform schools and wilderness treatment programs. The question asked by most parents is: Where does RedCliff’s wilderness program fit among all of these programs? Here is some information that may help you understand your options:

Residential treatment centers or therapeutic schools

RedCliff offers the same level of clinical help for troubled teens as most residential treatment facilities and therapeutic schools. The biggest difference between those programs and RedCliff Ascent is the length of treatment and the treatment environment.

Our wilderness program has a much greater life changing impact in a shorter amount of time. Residential treatment is typically more of a long-term treatment option. Therapeutic schools mainly focus on academics with a secondary emphasis on therapy.

Our years of experience suggest that a wilderness program is a tremendous transitional program prior to residential treatment or therapeutic schools. Many residential treatment centers and therapeutic schools prefer students that have graduated from a wilderness program prior to enrollment in their particular programs or school. Recent outcome studies show RedCliff to be one of the most successful treatment programs available for troubled teens.

Boot Camps

Therapeutic wilderness programs are often confused with teen boot camps. RedCliff Ascent does not ascribe to the philosophy of a juvenile boot camp. We use natural and logical structure, traditional therapy, a value-based curriculum and the power of Mother Nature. Juvenile boot camps use structure, intimidation and fear administered by drill-sergeant-like staff. State corrections have typically adopted this method of rehabilitation.

Boot camps gain compliance through punitive punishments for failure to comply. RedCliff fosters compliance through an experiential learning process of success and failure within the community and the environment. In other words, if a student does not build a shelter on a cloudy night, he or she may get rained on and be wet all night. The students learn from experience, not fear and intimidation.

In a teen boot camp, the students are on one level and the staff on another. At RedCliff, the counselors eat the same food, sleep in the same environment, and experience the same joys and misfortunes the wilderness has to offer 24 hours a day. Because the counselors are on the same level, the students learn to admire and respect them. Ultimately, they develop very close relationships of trust and a willingness to discuss problems and issues.

RedCliff’s wilderness program is a much better treatment alternative for troubled teens than a juvenile boot camp because experiential learning is a much more productive treatment method than intimidation and fear from an authority figure.

Outward Bound

The main differences between Outward Bound and RedCliff’s therapeutic wilderness program are the level of therapeutic intervention, the structure of the curriculum and the length of stay.

An Outward Bound program is a great opportunity for adolescents and adults that do not require therapeutic intervention. Outward Bound has some great skill building as well as team building courses. Many families choose this type of program for a summer activity when school is out and teens have time to attend.

Unlike Outward Bound, at RedCliff  psychologists and licensed therapists are on staff. They have the training, licensure, and ability to identify and diagnose a troubled teens problems. They can develop an appropriate treatment plan for teens diagnosed with behavioral disorders, substance abuse disorders, mood disorders etc.RedCliff combines traditional therapy and a powerful wilderness curriculum to identify treatment needs and assist the student in stopping the self-destructive behavior.

Outward Bound programs are not equipped for this level of clinical intervention but remain a wonderful option for early intervention. We highly recommend an Outward Bound program for those students who would embrace the adventure. Outward Bound is a great experience for adults as well as teens.

Tough Love

The Tough Love program is a self-help group where parents meet together in their home communities. There is a curriculum and facilitator for each group. The topics discussed focus on self-change and setting boundaries. Tough Love for Teens is not affiliated with any boot camps. Although the Tough Love program bears the name Tough Love for Teens, it encourages caring, compassion, determination and tact. Some parents are able to use this method and others are not.

We receive a lot of referrals from Tough Love program parents whose defiant teenager has progressed beyond the parent’s ability to administer any of Tough Love for Teen’s concepts. The media has frequently referred to wilderness therapy programs as Tough Love programs. RedCliff’s therapeutic wilderness program certainly provides boundaries and structure in a wilderness environment that certainly feels like tough love for teens. RedCliff is a resource for a Tough Love program parent whose troubled teenager has progressed beyond the parent’s ability to help them.

Alternative Schools

Alternative schools are usually community-run operations for youth that have been unable to survive in mainstream education. These troubled teen alternative schools are generally punitive in nature. Students are sent to these Alternative High Schools due to academic failures, lack of motivation, behavioral problems, learning disorders as well as many other special needs.

RedCliff Ascent’s wilderness treatment program will not only motivate under-achievers that don’t belong in an alternative high school, but we can help them find a new identity and a new perspective on life. We have helped return hundreds of troubled teens back to mainstream education. Often youth who have been placed in these troubled teen alternative schools resign themselves to inadequacy and underachievement. RedCliff Ascent is an opportunity for troubled teenagers to find out who they really are and what they are capable of if they are willing to apply themselves to the task at hand.

RedCliff Ascent is recognized as a leader in the wilderness therapy industry. We have helped develop operational standards for excellence for wilderness therapy for the State of Utah. We are also part of the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP) and the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Industry Cooperative (OBHIC), a national organization commited to the betterment of the industry.

Please explore our website or call an admissions counselor at 801-921-8488 for additional information about how RedCliff Ascent can help your family.

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