Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Outdoor Behavioral Health Heals The World


Guest Blogger
Steven M. DeMille, PhD, LCMHC
Program Therapist/Research Director
RedCliff Ascent



I hope things are going well. I wanted to send you an update on the presentation that Mark Burdick and I did at the World Psychological Forum. The World Psychological Forum (WPF) is an interdisciplinary conference that explores the intersection of psychology and other fields such as economics, politics, and cross cultural studies. The WPF was hosted in the Czech Republic, with participants coming from all over the world.




The presentation that Mark and I conducted was an e-poster that focused on cross cultural treatment in an Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare program. The presentation was titled:

Nature as a stage for change: A case study examination of the treatment process in an Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare program. 

For this presentation we provided a case study example of how an outdoor environment can be used to facilitate change with a struggling adolescent who has significant and chronic inter-personal and intra-personal distress. The e-poster format allowed for a highly interactive presentation with the integration of audiovisual material. The presentation provided the theoretical foundations for using the outdoors with struggling adolescents and then described the practical application through the use of a case study. Included was a short 90 second video with an interview of an Australian father who described his experience treating their son in an Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare program. See what the father had to say on this short video.



During the presentation there was great interest and good turnout. The Wilderness Advisor was provided as a handout to all participants and none were left behind. Everyone was fascinated with the research. The Wilderness Advisor has now gone global. The positive response to the presentation was further validated at the closing ceremonies when we received an award for the highest rated cross-cultural presentation at the conference. However, in the end the most validating feedback came after the conference when a struggling adolescent was referred from a boarding school in the Czech Republic for treatment in an Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare program

Saturday, January 30, 2016

RedCliff Ascent: The Leader in Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare


By Stephen C. Schultz


RedCliff Ascent is an Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare (OBH) program for adolescents who are essentially stuck in the adolescent stages of development. They lack the coping mechanisms, competencies and discipline necessary to manage their lives at an age appropriate level.



In other treatment or academic settings, these students may only be labeled by their diagnoses, which often include ADHD, ODD, Depression, Anxiety, ASD, bipolar mood disorder, etc.  The RedCliff treatment protocol recognizes the child and the illness are two distinctly separate components. A student’s life should not be defined by a diagnosis. Each is specifically addressed independently in the therapeutic process.

We help the student and family understand how a specific cluster of symptoms associated with their diagnosis has impacted the student’s developmental progression.  RedCliff’s therapeutic model disrupts these unhealthy patterns of behavior and reintegrates the student into a more healthy developmental process.

Our treatment model has been evolving for well over two decades. With over 15 years of field research and clinical leadership, Redcliff is considered one of the premier wilderness programs in the United States. 

Why Do I Care?
Unlike any other program, we recognize that regardless of the student’s diagnosis there is an underlying developmental stall. RedCliff’s treatment modality addresses both issues. The model was developed and refined through research informed treatment practices.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Bringing Meaning to The Mundane Activities of Daily Living

By Stephen C. Schultz


The air was crisp. The sky was off white with a mix of clouds up higher and fog drifting in lower. The sun peeked through a break in the fog just enough to create a sparkle in the fresh snow delicately balanced on a leafless shrub.



At close to 5000 feet above sea level, snow is no stranger in the winter. I went to the closet and pulled out my coat. I slipped in on and in four steps was at the back door. This time of year, I keep the snow shovels leaning against the outside wall ready to move into action at the whim of mother nature.

This particular storm wasn’t a big one by any winter standard. There was a few inches and that was all. In fact, with the sun peeking through, the sidewalks cleared quickly. I looked up from my shoveling and noticed two Mule Deer, both bucks, gracefully scampering through the snow, across the sidewalk, and through my back yard. Hobble Creek flows less than fifty yards from my home and they probably were simply getting their morning drink of water.



It was a pretty morning to be sure, and the shoveling didn’t take long at all. I stepped back in the house, took off my coat and my phone rang. It was my daughter who has just completed her second week of college where she entered mid-year due to a volleyball scholarship. She asked how I was doing and I did the same. She said her classes were going fine, not much homework yet, but she knew it would get much more busy later in the semester. She mentioned that her roommates and her were getting ready to go to church. She told me about her healthy meals that she has been preparing and the workout routine she has implemented to stay in shape prior to her official university practices starting.

I wish I could say there was a lot of exciting things happening today! It would be fun to post about an exciting ski run down a Black Diamond slope or a much needed Caribbean Cruise in the middle of winter. It seems that is what everyone else is doing as I browse my social media accounts. Sometimes I think I live a pretty boring life! And, you know what? I do!

In fact, that is one of the things I am most grateful for! You see...being able to find meaning in the mundane activities of daily living is the very thing that allows us to appreciate those times when life is a bit more exciting. The majority of us who live on this planet live life one day at a time. We wake up, perform some type of daily hygiene, get dressed, go to work, come home, have a meal or two, go to bed, sleep and start over the next day...day in and day out!



So, the question then becomes...How do we create satisfaction and meaning in our day to day lives? I have known people who simply move from one exciting experience to another. Often they end up searching for that “Thing” that is more exciting than the last “Thing”. More times than not, they end up battling the demons of broken relationships, substance abuse and emotional frustration. Constantly looking for that next best rush of adrenaline or exciting activity is kind of like a cat chasing its tail. Pretty soon you're just worn out with nothing to show for it.

The teens that find themselves in treatment struggle with demonstrating appropriate social skills in their young lives. This is mainly due to the fact they spend their time endlessly searching for the emotional high that is created through gaming, substance abuse, pornography and other abuses of technology. They are literally searching for their next “High”. How many times, as a parent, have you heard, “I’m bored!”

As we shovel the proverbial snow, rake the leaves, do the dishes, make our bed, or set the alarm so we can wake up for work...are we appreciative of the small things? Is there joy that can be found in the snow amongst the branches or seeing the deer as they prance across the street? Have we brought meaning to the mundane activities of daily living? If not, how do we? I am interested in your thoughts on this topic.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Dying with Dignity - A Friends Final Words

Editors Note: This is an article written by Kumen (Kim) Jones. He was a colleague of mine and on December 23rd, 2015 just 19 days ago, I was speaking with him in the office about this particular piece he wrote for a 50th High School Reunion. I asked him for a copy and he promptly sent it to me. I am sharing this on my blog with his permission, given just a few weeks ago. Yesterday I attended his funeral. There is hope, faith and wisdom in his writing. I thought you might appreciate this!


Reflections on Our 50th (And Other Matters)
By Kim Jones

While there may be some who were disappointed with the way our 50 year reunion turned out, I am certainly not one of them. For me it was nothing short of a smashing success and I wish to express my sincere thanks (as I think we all should) to those who worked so hard to make the event what it was.


It was such a thrill for me to renew old friendships and actually establish new ones. The meet and greet on Thursday, September 17 was a low-key, relaxed, and joyous occasion. I was struck by just how friendly everyone was. There was what I took to be genuine interest in what everyone had been doing in their lives. Time and again you would hear an explosion of excitement and laughter as one person would recognize someone they had not seen for many years, sometimes even 50 years. As I sit writing about it now I thrill once again at how much fun it was.




As good as the Thursday meet and greet was, Friday evening was, in many ways, even better. The open mic section turned out to be very entertaining and both the girls ensemble and my little singing group were exceptional. But, once again, it was the mingling with classmates not seen for many years that made the event the great success that it was. Wow! What an evening it was. Thanks again to the planning committee for all the work you did.

The whole concept of high school reunions and why they are so enjoyable is a mystery to me. They bring together people who in most instances only knew one another for three years and then see one another rarely, if at all, between reunions. We are 68 years old. The three years we attended high school represent only about 4.5 percent of our lives. And yet, we look forward with great anticipation to the chance to mingle with our classmates once again. Perhaps these reunions give us an opportunity to revisit a simpler time in our lives. Whatever the reason, for many of us, reunions (particularly the 50th) are wonderful occasions that allow us to revisit our youth.

Of all the activities in the two days of our reunion, without a doubt the most poignant for me was the video presentation showing those of our classmates who are no longer with us. There were so many. Personally, I found it most appropriate that our deceased schoolmates were not shown as they were at the time they died, but as they looked in high school, in the flower of their youth. For me, they will never age. They are frozen in their youth, young and alive. That is certainly how I would like to remember them.

As we watched the show, I looked at those around me and reflected on the changes the last 50 years have brought to us. Some of us have changed a great deal and some of us hardly at all. But whatever else, I was struck by the thought that all of us have fewer days in front of us in mortality than we do behind us.

One of the reasons the video presentation had such a sobering impact on me was that earlier in the day I had met with my doctor who had informed me that my leukemia had returned and this time it was almost certainly going to take my life.

I was originally diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in December of 2013. It was really a surreal experience for me. For reasons that I cannot really explain, I never really grasped the seriousness of my situation. It was almost like I had a bad cold. It never occurred to me that I wouldn't get better. And I did. It was a fairly lengthy process, but in May of 2014 my leukemia was pronounced to be in remission. I was told, of course, that there was a possibility, even a probability that my cancer would someday return. Someday.

Well now, that someday has arrived, and I was informed of it on the afternoon of September 17, 2015, about two hours before the start of the meet and greet portion of our 50 year reunion. I resolved in my own mind that I would not think about it or talk about it at the reunion. Then, one of the first things we did at the meet and greet was watch the video presentation I mentioned above. Anyway, for what seem to me to be fairly obvious reasons, the subjects of death and dying have been much on my mind of late. Within a very short time (certainly less than a year), I suspect you will learn that Kim Jones has joined the ranks of our classmates who have died. But, before I go, I want to share some of my thoughts with you on the subject of the process I am going through. "What", you may ask, "has Kim Jones' death got to do with me"? Well, I'll tell you.

As many of you know, I spent much of my professional career as a faculty member at Arizona State University. From time to time (actually quite often) students would come to my office to complain about something they didn't like about my performance as their teacher. When they did, I would simply turn and point to a plaque hanging on the wall behind me. 

It read:
Life is tough!
Three out of three people die!
Shut up and deal!

At which point they would leave, realizing I was not going to do whatever it was they wanted me to do.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Are you into Extreme Sports? We’re into Extreme Life!

By Stephen C. Schultz




As a field guide with RedCliff Ascent, you’ll get paid for being outside with a whole bunch of people who like the outdoors as much as you do. You’ll make your living working with struggling teens that are privately placed with us by their parents from across the globe. You will have the opportunity to work closely with therapist and other allied health professionals.





RedCliff is un-like anything you’ve ever experienced. It’s work without walls. This job makes you better, stronger and surer of who you are and what you want in life. It’s an experience you will never forget!

You can have it here at RedCliff Ascent. 



For well over 20 years, the staff at RedCliff have helped thousands of teenagers and their families find a new beginning.

RedCliff is an extraordinary wilderness treatment program with research based outcome studies to back up its success. The effectiveness of the program and the significant changes made by students and families have a direct correlation to the quality of staff employed at RedCliff, therefore we search out the best.



Field Guides are responsible to insure student physical and emotional safety (not necessarily comfort) without interfering with the natural consequences provided by the wilderness. Field Guides work with program administrators and therapy teams to ensure a therapeutic experience for students. Accurately communicating student progress through both written and verbal reports is necessary.

Over 60% of field guide applicants have a college degree.



Minimum requirements:
Field Guides must be at least 21 years of age. They must be able to pass an annual physical examination, pre-employment and random drug screening tests and pass a Federal Criminal Background Check. They must have a high school degree or equivalent and have a current CPR & First Aid Certification. Finally, our guides must be patient and have the desire to impact the lives of teens in a positive manner.


Check us out further at www.wildernesswork.com


Monday, November 30, 2015

Navigating the rough waters of ADHD

By Stephen C. Schultz



Now that we are in the heart of the Holiday Season, it is easy to ascribe some childhood behaviors to excitement and anticipation of gifts. There are high fat foods and sugary treats that affect energy levels and metabolism. Everywhere you turn there are high stimulus lights, sounds and decorations.

While that may be the cause of some hyper behaviors, those who have children who suffer with ADHD know all too well there is much more to this physical ailment than meets the eye. Parents often describe embarrassing moments while in public and constant calls from schools. There are frustrating interactions, arguing and exhaustive research flanked by trips to the doctor and medication.




If you are new to the overwhelming world of having a child diagnosed with ADHD, I hope you find this information helpful and encouraging. If you are an old pro at this and a seasoned parent with lots of experience, I hope you will feel encouraged in your commitment and efforts. Feel free to share this information with family and friends who might find themselves  navigating the rough waters of ADHD.


ADHD and Addiction: What is the Risk?

ADD / ADHD and School: Helping Children and Teens with ADHD Succeed at School

ADHD and Learning Disabilities: School Help

College Assistance Guide for People with ADHD

The Best Software and Gadgets for ADHD Students

The Ultimate ADHD Apps Guide: 18 Apps to Make Managing Your ADHD Simpler

Strategies to Empower, Not Control, Kids Labeled ADD/ADHD

How Dogs Can Help People with ADD & ADHD

ADHD and Stress: Does One Cause the Other?

ADHD and Coexisting Conditions: ADHD, Sleep and Sleep Disorders

Here is one more link to a blog post on my blog where I discuss my daughters struggle with seizures and the fight to avoid "Labels" when it come to a diagnosis. You can read that article below.

A diagnosis is not a label. Building resilience!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving...Having an Attitude of Gratitude

By Stephen C. Schultz

The wall approached quicker than expected! The light tapping on the brakes did little to slow the momentum! Fortunately there was a slight increase in slope and the car slid to a stop. Pushing the ignition button and simultaneously pulling on the door handle, with a bump of my left shoulder I slid from the front seat and balanced myself on the icy parking lot.


My two colleagues stepped out of the car and didn’t seem to think twice or even notice that we literally slid into our parking spot. The three of us gingerly stepped up onto the curb and moved along the walkway to the door. We awkwardly shuffled each step along the icy surface.
Our purpose in this adventure was a trip to RedCliffAscent to have a discussion with the clinical team about treatment plans and documentation. This particular stop along the way was to get ourselves some breakfast at a rural McDonalds just off the interstate since we were half way through a four hour drive.
We stepped through the door and made our way to the counter to place our orders. It was the usual breakfast fare that you find at any McDonalds. After the orders were placed and paid for, I stepped back away to wait. Standing next to the counter that housed the straws, napkins, condiments and soda pop machine, I signed into my email on my phone to check for messages.


Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the next person in line step to the counter. She was dressed in baggy sweat pants and bundled up in a thick hoodie. She had some black snow boots on and a scarf around her shoulders. She placed her order and paid with a plastic card of some kind. There was some discussion going on that I didn’t pay much attention to. Then, as I was looking at my phone, it registered that someone was saying,
“Sir? Sir? Can you help me pay for my breakfast?”
I looked up, then I looked behind me. I wasn’t sure if the woman was talking to me or not. I glanced at the woman taking the order and she quietly mentioned to me that the amount on the woman’s Food Assistance Card was a few dollars short. There were others in line waiting to place orders. The woman working at the cash register simply wanted to close out the sale and place the order. The woman in need of a few dollars simply wanted to get her breakfast. I reached in my pocket and quietly stepped forward with a five dollar bill and handed it to the woman taking the order.
My colleagues and I got our food and headed on our way. I’m glad to report there was no more slipping and we managed to make it to the car without incident! The next couple of hours were filled with some light discussion and a lot of thinking on my part. I started thinking about that woman in McDonalds. What circumstances had conspired over her lifetime to get her to the point of using a Food Assistance Card in a McDonalds in rural America next to an interstate exit. There are obviously lots of questions and very few answers.

I was overcome with a sense of gratitude. I felt gratitude for the way I was raised. I was taught to cherish “Moments” over “Merchandise”. I felt gratitude for my job, family and faith. I started thinking about how difficult it would be to manage this earthly experience without Faith in a loving God who simply wants us to return to a heavenly home. Without an eternal perspective, this life’s struggles would seem cruel and pointless. It is only when our faith communicates to us that we are strangers confined within the boundaries of “time” that we practice the virtues of patience, hopefulness, courage and determination to weather the storms of life’s experience. I was reminded of a story shared by author C. S. Lewis;
“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace.” ~ C. S. Lewis
As Americans spend time together with families and friends this Thanksgiving, please be aware that gratitude can be exercised year round and in any country across the globe. As my daughter says, we can all demonstrate an “Attitude of Gratitude” and be thankful for the small things that we come in contact with everyday.

I sincerely wish everyone a wonderful Holiday Season!


Be sure to check out these other Holiday posts from years past… here and here and here.