There are many options for teens with mental health issues. Why would a working cattle ranch in the wilds of Utah be the answer for them and their parents?
“When adolescents are failing in their home environment, it is sometimes essential for them to go to an isolated therapeutic environment to get their lives back together,” says Michelle Lindsay, executive director and licensed mental health counselor at Turn-About Ranch in Escalante, Utah.
“Today’s world is filled with technology that floods our lives with immediate gratification, mixed messages and constant diversions from what is most important. Our real, working cattle ranch limits technology to the necessities and provides constant, meaningful activities that foster growth. Without constant stimulation from technology, teens have to deal with the real issues of their lives and develop new, healthier coping skills than what video games and social media could ever provide.
“They have to be responsible and think for themselves while actively contributing to the welfare of themselves and the ranch as a whole. Life on a working ranch today is about the same as it was 100 years ago. Using it as a therapeutic setting for growth and real change has proven to be extremely effective for Turn-About Ranch for over 28 years now.”
At Turn-About Ranch, “Chores” Are Therapy
Turn-About Ranch is a short-term, accredited, Christian-based therapeutic program for students ages 13 through 17. Located in the heart of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and the Dixie National Forest, this real cattle ranch takes advantage of millions of acres to work with struggling teens from all over the world.
Turn-About Ranch welcomes teens struggling with a range of emotional and behavioral issues, including (but not limited to) mood disorders, attention deficit and learning disorders, substance abuse/addiction, oppositional/defiance, low self-esteem, and poor academic performance. The staff works extensively to train and include parents in treatment and preparation for the teen to return home. The program has a minimum stay of 100 days with an extended program available for those who qualify.
In addition to accredited academics and extensive therapy, students do all the tasks required to run a working ranch: farming, hauling hay, caring for animals, cutting wood, driving cattle, and more. The Horsemanship Program takes equine therapy to a new level. Each student is assigned a horse to care for and ride throughout the program. Students become expert riders with instruction and therapeutic experiences that help them become better experts on themselves. Their relationship with their horses goes far beyond the arena. They go on majestic trail rides and day-long buckaroos to drive cattle to greener pastures.
“Everything that happens here is therapeutic – from completing chores to controlling their horse,” says Myron Carter, program director at Turn-About Ranch. “With all the animals and the beauty of nature around them, students develop a strong connection to life – the life within themselves and outside them.”
Here are six more reasons why Turn-About Ranch might be the answer for your family:
Intensive Therapy. Licensed therapists capitalize on the experiential learning opportunities found on the ranch. Instead of just talking about change, they actively practice it in real-world situations. Therapy occurs throughout the daily routeine under the direction of qualified professionals who include parents in the treatment planning.
Individualized Academic Plans. The academic director works closely with parents, consultants, and school counselors to create an individualized academic plan for each student. This makes it possible to accommodate the needs of students who have special needs or are behind, as well as students who are on track or want to get ahead.
Vocational Training. Students have opportunities to learn culinary arts, auto mechanics, building trades, and other important life-skills. This is particularly good for students who may struggle with traditional academic subjects. It also teaches skills needed to be self-sufficient in life.
Ranch Life. Students work with their peers and adult staff, learning ranch skills and contributing to something beyond themselves. Along the way, they learn cooperation, compassion and respect for their fellow humans as well as the animals and natural environment. They get out of their usual routines of TV, phones, internet and video games to experience and discover more than today’s world of electronics could ever offer.
Respect for the Outdoors. Students are taught to be aware of the environment, not only on the ranch, but during field trips to fossil sites and other places of historic and geological interest. This is another way Turn-About Ranch provides hands-on learning.
Family Component and Transition Planning. Turn-About Ranch’s therapeutic approach requires parents to participate in weekly treatment planning, counseling about follow-up care, and midterm and graduation programs. Midterm and graduation sessions offer family counseling, parenting and family workshops, and experiential components designed to bring families closer together and establish successful plans for the transition back home.
Contact Turn-About Ranch to learn more about how an experience on a working ranch can help heal your teen and family.