Wednesday, May 4, 2016

When work is an adventure!

By Stephen C. Schultz


The sky was overcast and there was a crisp chill in the air. The roof tops of the neighboring houses all had the unmistakable white fluffy stuff so affectionately called snow. This would normally not be of any consequence at the foot of the 10,000 foot mountains. However, flowers were springing up, grass was turning green and we had already gotten used to warmer temperatures. Weather in these parts of the country can be a roller coaster at best.



So, I stepped out of my car and into the wind. I made my way to the door of my office. I walked past the reception desk and Andrea caught my eye and motioned me over. She said there was someone on the phone line that wanted more information about our Wilderness Therapy Program. She asked if I would be willing to speak with this person.

Andrea transferred the call to my cell phone and I introduced myself. The lady calling mentioned she was from Arizona and had watched some of the video’s about RedCliff Acsent on YouTube. This type of therapeutic intervention intrigued her and she decided to call. She had a number of questions that she was asking me. There were questions about length of stay, how much it costs and what the therapy was like. There were some questions about family involvement and the food the kids eat. We talked about weekend camping and how powerful that can be and the differences between RedCliff Ascent and an adventure weekend experience.



As I was thinking about this conversation, there is a specific aspect I thought I would share. Part of our conversation grew out of the question;

“What kind of training does your staff have?”

I shared with her some answers that can be found on the employment website for RedCliff Ascent called Wilderness Work.  If you have an interest in working with teens and helping families improve their relationships, then this career may be of interest to you. Check it out!


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Do We Actively Seek Teachable Moments?

By Stephen C. Schultz


I had an experience at Oxbow Academy a few weeks ago. It’s an experience that is transferable to just about any work environment. I hope you find this helpful as you interact with colleagues in your place of employment.

Thomas Holmes, our photographer and I were at Oxbow taking pictures of the administration team. This included the Executive Director, Residential Director, Academic Director and teachers. It also included the Clinical Director and therapists. All of these shots were for use on the website. We decided to take the pictures in the new horse arena so we can have a standard backdrop, regardless of outside weather. In the future, we will be glad to have a standard backdrop.


I was standing next to the tack room with a group of teachers. I was making small talk and noticed a few of them standing there watching Tony and Brita working with a student and a horse. There was no conversation happening with the teachers, they were 100% focused on the therapy session. Because of distance and the activity, you could tell there was interaction and conversation going on with Tony, Brita and the student, but you couldn’t hear much of what was being said. Yet, the teachers were still enthralled with the process.



I took a step closer to the teachers and asked if they knew much about equine therapy. They all shook their head no. I started sharing some of the basics about equine therapy and why we use it. They would turn their head to me, and then turn back to Tony and Brita. I asked if they had met Tony and his wife Brita. They said they had seen them around. I motioned to them to follow me and we walked to the edge of the panels. I caught Tony’s eye and he came over. We made introductions and I asked Tony to explain a little about the process of equine therapy.



Tony did what Tony does…he connected immediately with the teachers. He discussed what they were doing with this student, (who the teachers knew and cared for) and how equine therapy helps to build competence, mastery and resilience. Then, just like that we were called to get pictures taken and the experience was over.

I was thinking about this on the drive back to my office. I know one thing from that brief interaction…those teachers gained a deeper understanding of Oxbow Academy. They probably have a bit more pride in their association with the program and will probably interact with that particular student in a more informed way in the future.

So, in your particular workplace, do you have different departments that may not fully understand what you do? Are there aspects of other departments you don’t fully understand? Would it be helpful and contribute to an improved culture if you better understood the “Big Picture”? How can you make that happen?

In the world of therapy, we often hear the term “Teachable Moments”. Even the teachers themselves can have teachable moments!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Mental Toughness - How important is it?

Guest Blog
By Amanda Schultz


Wiping the sweat from my eyes, I took a deep breath as the referee handed me the game ball. This was my moment: the biggest match in the history of my 15-year-old volleyball career was tied up at 26, and I had the chance to win it all for my team with this last serve. All eyes were on me. The gym was so quiet. It felt as though I was underwater. My heart was pounding so loud I was convinced everyone else could hear it too. “Don’t miss this, Amanda,” I told myself. “Just get it over the net and in the court.” As the referee blew his whistle, I lingered for one final second, trying to calm my nerves. I tossed the ball into the air, applauding myself on the solid connection, the fabulous follow-through, the flat contact, and watched the ball sail... straight into the net. I was living the moment athletes have nightmares about. I had single-handedly lost the game for my team.


This experience came to mind as I started playing volleyball at Dixie State University. Practices are intense and a lot is expected from every player. However, when it is my turn to perform and the game is on the line, I am no longer afraid. The pressure is not as great because I have been in the same situation hundreds of times, and I know I can do it.  

As I pondered this idea, I wanted to know more about what goes through an athlete’s head when the game comes down the wire. I decided to pose the following research question: How does an athlete’s mental game affect their physical performance?

Friday, March 25, 2016

Image vs Identity - What's The Difference?

By Stephen C. Schultz


Over the last 25 years, I have noticed a shift in the youth that my organization works with and some of the struggles these young people encounter. What I am seeing is not merely symptomatic of a rebellious teen or the burdens that accompany a mental illness.



It seems many students and families are headed down a track with very few options for changing course. What I am sensing is that our society in general is struggling in many ways. What I see happening with our youth is symptomatic of larger social ills. In this political season, what I perceive goes beyond “Republican and Democrat” or “Conservative and Liberal”. What I’m sensing touches on the very heart of “Identity”; the essence of who we are. It is the question of who we are as a society and who we are as individuals.

As I work with teens who find themselves involved in dishonest behavior, unhealthy relationships and “entitled” attitudes there is one common thread that runs through every family situation. Throughout the teens stages of childhood and adolescence, these kids have moved away from life’s tasks that contribute to the development of an “Identity” and they have slipped into the world of developing an “Image”. It is important to note that “Image” and “Identity” are two very different things.



As each of us moves into adulthood, it is through the accomplishment of life’s tasks that we gain competencies. These tasks include mastering school, work and family relationships. As this mastery happens, we develop a set social skill sets that include   determination, courage, honesty, trust, integrity, insight, loyalty and knowledge. It is through this developmental process and the practice of these particular skills that an “Identity” is developed.

“Image” has its foundation based in perception, not competency. Image is more about how one appears than who they are.

So, as I look at myself, my community and my nation, I wonder where that tipping point is. Are we a nation of self centered people only worried about the next “selfie” and our image? Or, are we grounded in a quiet confidence based on a solid identity?



As I work to develop a healthy sense of identity, I become less concerned about the image of others as well as myself.

What are your thoughts? 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Can You Follow Directions?

By Stephen C. Schultz


As the father of four, I have always been amazed at the time and effort that goes into teaching your children. If your experience is anything like mine, there have been instructions given, reminders mentioned and sometimes an elevated tone in my voice just to get my kids to do the simplest of requests.



I'm sure I wasn't much different when I was younger. I remember summertime as a kid. Sunny days were far and few between in Eugene, Oregon! My dad would have a list of chores for us kids to do written on a piece of paper and left on the dining room table. We were supposed to have the chores done before he got home from work. It seems that every day consisted of riding our bikes, playing "stunt man" on the stairs or building forts in the living room with the couches, blankets and pillows!

Rarely were the chores our top priority...until about an hour before he got home! Then, we would scurry around the house to clean up. We would race outside, grab rakes and shovels, stir up the dirt and pretend like we had been working as though we were sentenced to 20 years hard labor at the Schultz home!

Why is it so hard for us to follow directions? I wish I could say this was simply a childhood phase. However, if I'm honest with myself, it's still hard to do even as an adult. It's just that the requests no longer come from my parents, but come from my immediate family, work and community.

So, below is a fun activity to do with your family. As spring and summer approach, families get together for Holidays and reunions. This will be an insightful activity and it doesn't take long. It can be done with adults, teens and children.

Copy and paste the 21 sentences and make copies for all who will participate. Make sure everyone has a pen or pencil. Pass out the paper and place it face down in front of each participant. Let them know they can turn the paper over and start when you  say "Begin".


Can You Follow Direction?


1) Read everything carefully before doing everything.

2) Put your name in the upper right hand corner of this paper.

3) Draw four small circles in the upper left hand corner.

4) Put an "X" in each circle.

5) Draw a square around each circle.

6) Sign your name under the title of this paper.

7) After the title, write the words "yes, yes, yes".

8) Draw a line completely around sentence number 7.

9) Put an "X" in the lower left corner of this page.

10) Draw a triangle around the "X" you just put in the corner.

11) On the back of this paper, multiply 856 by 43.

12) Draw a rectangle around your name.

13) When you get this far, hold up your right hand.

14) If you have followed directions carefully to this point, stand up.

15) On the reverse side of the paper, add 10030 and 8543.

16) Put a circle around the answer.

17) Write the numbers 10 to 1 backwards on the right side of the paper.

18) Punch three holes in the top of the paper with your pen or pencil.

19) Underline all even numbers on the left side of the paper.

20) Wave both arms in the air.

21) Now that you have finished reading everything carefully, do only sentence 1 and 2 and then sit quietly until others have finished.


Friday, February 26, 2016

How should I respond when interacting with a bully?

By Stephen C. Schultz


The 1971-1972 school year was looking to be a good one! With the wind whistling through my hair, I coasted down City View Street on my green Schwynn Stingray, complete with the slick back tire and the gear shift on the center bar, headed to school at Westmoreland Elementary. Even though it had been a couple of weeks, I was feeling comfortable and getting settled in to 3rd grade at my school.

I came to a stop at the corner of 18th and City View and waited for the light to change. The school was directly across the street.  I stepped off the curb and into the cross walk. Once I was safely across, I rode on to the space behind the gym where the bike racks were. 



I took the combination lock off my bike and rotated the tumblers to 9399 and pulled the green vinyl coated chain apart and ran it through the front tire and around the bike rack. I put the chain back together and rolled the tumblers to random numbers. This was the routine just about every day, rain or shine, for many of the students living in Eugene, Oregon.

As with most neighborhoods at the time, there were a few kids who were bullies. I always tried to stay clear of those guys. While I certainly had my mischievous side, I wasn’t a trouble maker.

I recall a time later that same year riding my bike down the same route I would take to school. It was a Saturday and I was on my way to the corner 7-11 convenience store to buy some candy. One of the local bullies stepped off his porch when he saw me coming down the street. He stepped out in front of me and motioned with his hand for me to stop. I slowly coasted to a stop as the brakes made that squeaky brake sound that is so familiar when riding a bike.

I hopped forward off the seat and stood there straddling the center bar. This particular boy was probably 3-4 year older than I was, had straight brown shoulder length hair and walked up to my bike like he’d seen one too many James Dean movies.

I stood there trying not to shake too much. I knew instinctively this wasn’t a friendly visit, but one that might end badly for this 9 year old second grader taking a Saturday morning excursion to get some candy!

The bully stepped to the front of my bike and grabbed the handle bars.

He said with a snarl, “Get off!”

In a second grade screechy voice I responded, “I’m just going to get some candy”

“Get off”, he grimaced!

I slowly lifted my leg over the bar and stepped aside. He proceeded to get on my bike and he rode away. I stood there watching him ride down the sidewalk and around the corner.

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