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.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Concerned about your teen? Check The Wilderness Advisor!

By Stephen C. Schultz

A Note to RedCliff Ascent:

"Chad, my friend Laxxxx Rixxxx, spoke with you regarding her daughter, Saxxx. I just wanted to let you know I recommended RedCliff because of the great experience my daughter, Raxxxx and I had. 

She's a mom now and is starting Nursing School next week! I will always believe the lessons she learned in the field - and from Winter Rose [Therapist] - saved her life. The pictures still make me cry ... happy tears now.

Thank you again for all the great work you do! I'm a true believer!

Trxxx Olxxx" [Parent]

When parents have a struggle with their teen, often they hope that seeing an outpatient therapist will be a solution. Often it is a good experience and families begin to heal.

However, equally as often, the teen simply sees the therapist as an extension of the parents, someone hired by the parents to "Fix" the teen. There is generally some resistance and the teen never really engages in the therapy process. The therapist gets discouraged and the parents start looking for alternatives.

This can be frustrating and expensive for the parents. In fact, many times things actually start to get worse and the parents begin to question whether they should have engaged in a therapeutic process to begin with.

If you are a parent, therapist or educational consultant who finds yourself  in this precarious situation, be sure to check out the below link. It goes straight to a PDF copy of the Wilderness Advisor.

Inside, you will find information and research that answers the question; Does wilderness therapy work?

Friday, September 18, 2015

Top 5 Signs of Adolescent Technology Addiction

By Stephen C. Schultz

I recently received some interesting information about Gaming and Technology use from a good friend of mine, Chris Mulligan, LCSW. Chris is the founder of the Cyber Addiction Recovery Center located in Culver City, CA. He sent me a list of the Top 5 signs of technology addiction in teens.

Chris and I were able to spend a couple of nights in the back-country with a team of students enrolled at RedCliff Ascent. These students struggle with many issues and concerns but the common thread always seems to be technology. You can read about one of the students we met in this blog post I wrote soon after returning from the field.

Is there a way technology can be used in a healthy way? There are lots of opportunities for teens to excel and find career opportunities when technology is appropriately used and managed. It’s a fine line and one that parents must constantly be checking in with their teen about.

Here are the Top 5 Signs of Adolescent Technology Addiction

  • Difficulty completing homework – You might be saying, “Yeah…and every other teenager in the world!” However, anytime there is a decrease in academic performance, it does suggest some further investigation and questions from parents would be appropriate.

  • Reduced interaction with “off line” friends – If you notice that your son or daughter is spending less time with real friends, it may be time to take notice.

  • Reduction in “off-line” hobbies and interests – Is your son or daughter spending all of their awake time multi-tasking between Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, chat room, YouTube or online gaming? Are they faltering in their other areas of talent such as sports, music, outdoor interests or reading.

  • Emotional outbursts -  Your son or daughter gets angry or irritable when time with technology is disrupted due to parental limits being set or structure around use being put in place.

  • Depression – Your son or daughter becomes depressed or apathetic when gaming or online use is met by mandatory breaks from technology.

If you find yourself as a parent struggling to navigate the waters of teen technology use and constantly find yourself in conflict with your teen, this list may be helpful. Be sure to check out Chris's website that is highlighted above. It can give you a place to start…a way to formulate questions and some direction when having a conversation with your teenager.

If you have teens, how do you help them manage the technology use at an age appropriate level? Comments, personal experience and ideas are welcome!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Pay It Forward With Kindness

By Stephen C. Schultz

I walked in the door at home after a long day of work. I made my way to the kitchen when my cell phone rang. It was my wife calling from the doctors office. She mentioned that my 14 year old daughter had an infection and needed some antibiotics. She told me that the doctors office had just now called in the prescription to a Walgreen's store down the street. I wasn’t excited to leave the house again, but turned around, grabbed my keys, slipped my shoes back on and headed out the door.

I pulled in the parking lot and got out of my car. My short walk across the parking lot was met with a welcome blast of cool air as I stepped through the automatic doors. Even though the kids are back in school, it is still summer as far as the weather goes. So, once inside, I made my way to the back corner of the store where the pharmacy is...halfheartedly noticing the non-descript music playing overhead.

As I rounded the corner of the isle, I was met with a line of about 10 people. I stepped through the line with brief eye contact and a soft “excuse me” to the lady in line with her young daughter. As I sauntered to the back of the line, I tried to assess the circumstances that would create this back up at the pharmacy. I thought to myself that maybe these folks were just getting off work like I was and stopping to get their respective medicine on the way home.

I stood there fidgeting and mumbling under my breathe a conversation with myself about how I always seem to be in the long line. How restaurants never seem too busy until I choose to walk through the door...and once inside the restaurant there is suddenly an hour wait! I thought how cars on the freeway all around me seem to be moving and I am stuck in the one lane that is at a dead stop! Don’t even get me started on the grocery store!!!

So, after about 15 minutes, which is an eternity when you’re standing in a line, I noticed that there was another lady at the counter who seemed to have a lot of items she was trying to purchase. The lovely lady behind the counter helping her, was trying her best to make the number of items being purchased match the amount of money she had. There were personal hygiene items being subtracted and then added back on. There were a couple of clothing items and items for her two children standing there next to her. It was obvious she struggled to add in her head the cost of the items she wanted and needed. She only had a twenty dollar bill and the items continued to add up more than $20.00. This was the hold up! This was the reason for the long line.

Then I saw something unexpected. A woman in line, the same woman I stepped past when I first arrived, moved to the counter. She mentioned in a whispered tone that she would be willing to help. She pulled out her credit card and had the Walgreen's pharmacist behind the counter ring up all the items. The total was $45 and some change. The lady and her daughters then thanked this woman, gathered their bags and walked away.

This was one of those moments in time that bolsters your faith in humanity. It also provided an opportunity for me to evaluate what I would have done. Would I have stepped forward and helped this lady by purchasing her items for her? Do I pay attention to those around me, or am I too involved in my own thoughts and tasks? How often do we find ourselves in a situation like this to assist others in a kind and compassionate manner, quietly reaching out to total strangers in a time of need? May we all be on the lookout for that opportunity to “Pay it forward with kindness”.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The value of relationships in transition

By Stephen C. Schultz

The air was crisp with the feel of late summer. A dull glow was slowly appearing over the muted green horizon that was laced with the tops of large Douglas Fir trees. I stood next to the trunk of one of those very trees, gazing out upon the calm morning water that would bring with it a day of fishing. With my son, my father, my brother in-law and my nephew, we set out on the water. In fact, it was a day that began a week of travel that included three different lakes, fishing and family visits.

The lakes were Odell Lake in Central Oregon, Collard Lake on the Oregon Coast and Bear Lake that splits the Utah and Idaho border. Activities included the before mentioned fishing but also much needed time with grandparents, uncles, aunts cousins and extended family.

There was blood from the prick of a fish hook. There was sweat from time spent cleaning and sweeping the roof and rain gutters of grandparents too frail to keep up with the never-ending chores of home ownership. There were tears while visiting with my grandmother, who at 99 years old is simply a shell of the woman we knew at loved. There was laughter at the telling of funny stories and the many memories of times gone by.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Does therapy in the wilderness change lives?

Posted by Stephen C. Schultz
Submitted by Jason

This is a message sent to RedCliff Ascent by a former student. I’ll simply let the pictures and the message speak for themselves.

“I just wanted to write to you and let you know that looking back at the experience that I had gone through there, although challenging at times, in looking back at the whole experience I believe that it was beneficial to me.  To this day I enjoy the knowledge of being able to start a fire with the bow drill, and knowing how to survive in a challenging environment.  The most memorable staff member was a lady by the name of White Winds, an older lady with the longest and whitest hair I have ever seen.  I have a box of all of the clothes in my basement and every time that I open the box I am engulfed with the smell of 99 days of fire and wilderness. 

While reading the first page of the website I noticed a quote from a former student, who said,

 ‘I don't think that I can explain it to anyone.’ 

I can't agree with them more. I have tried to explain to my friends and family what it was like out there and I seem to find that no one can grasp the whole experience.  Some of my friend’s still can't forgive my mother for taking me away from them my senior year of high school but thank god she did.  A couple of weeks after I was enrolled 5 of my friends were arrested and I would have been with them. 

I am now a senior at Western Connecticut State University and am ready to graduate and go on with my life.  I really don't know why I am writing this but I felt it necessary to express at least a little bit of what it did for me.  Thank you for your time and I hope the program is doing for others what it did for me.

All the best - Jason”

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Vertical Thinking - A New Therapeutic Insight For Teens

By Stephen C. Schultz

"Vertical Thinking is a type of approach to problems that usually involves one being selective, analytical, and sequential...vertical thinking consists of using more of a conscious approach via rational assessment in order to take in information or make decisions."

For those who may not be aware, I simply want to make a brief introduction to Oxbow Academy. The administration team has been working with teens who demonstrate Problematic Sexual Behaviors since 2001. The very specialized and clinically sophisticated services of Oxbow Academy were launched in 2007. Oxbow offers treatment for sex specific issues as well as a blending of best practices and philosophy form RedCliff Ascent, Discovery Academy & Discovery Ranch.

Oxbow Academy is on the cutting edge of research and treatment specifically geared towards adolescents. Uniquely designed to work with students struggling with Problematic Sexual Behavior, Oxbow recognized years ago these problematic trends.   

Gregg Lott, LCSW is one of the senior therapists at Oxbow. In this short video he takes the students on a hike and discusses some of the Thinking Patterns these boys have developed over the years. Take a look and see what you think. This little hike probably had a more positive impact on these boys than sitting on a couch in Gregg's office "Talking" for an hour!

More times than not, students with these particular sexual issues are admitted to a Boarding School or Residential Treatment Center (RTC) with no knowledge of any underlying sexual issues. It’s only after they are enrolled that the sexual issues (usually it’s inappropriately touching a fellow student, preoccupation with sexual talk, accessing porn sites on school computers or exposing himself etc.) present themselves. At this point, it is usually an awkward position for the school because the presenting problems would have been disqualifying criteria had these issues been known up front. It is important to note that these issues don’t simply resolve themselves. We have found that the identifying incident is usually the proverbial “tip of the ice berg”.