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Showing posts from January, 2011

"Family Day" - Avoid the power struggle!

By Stephen C. Schultz "Family Day" is a principle I grew up with. It continues on in my own family. It is a time to simply have discussions around important topics to your family. It's a time to have fun together. It's a time to demonstrate to your children, by example, what you as parents "value" in life. It’s a time to gain insight into your children. In today’s busy world, it is easy to get caught up in our adult responsibilities of work, home and civic duties and then wisk our children off to their school, music and sports activities in a flurry of car pools, cell phone coordination and drive-thru’s. While our kids may not know the difference, it is important for us as parents to not be so “Task” oriented that we miss those subtle “Teachable Moments” that seem to pop up in spontaneous ways through out the day. Please allow me to share an experience. It was a cool fall morning and there was some yard work that needed to be done. I asked my so

“Good Samaritans” are among us...

By Stephen C. Schultz I have never felt as helpless as I did this morning. I was stopped in traffic in a left hand turn lane. Traffic was humming by in all directions, people were busy...I was heading to work . I looked to my right and there was an elderly gentleman, probably in his eighties, walking across the street towards the bank. He was dressed nicely, like he was out to run errands. He shuffled deliberately and with purpose as he approached the curb. Then, without warning, his toe stubbed along the pavement and he went down head first to the gutter. He lay there, shaken a bit, struggling to get up. I wanted to rush over and give him a hand up. However, I was in the middle of a busy intersection. Do I turn my flashers on, leave my car and rush over? No, that could cause yet another accident. Fortunately, another man who saw this happen, jogged from the bank parking lot and assisted this elderly man to his feet. As I finished my turn, I glanced in the mirror and the “Goo

Mental Illness...It's more than perception!

By Stephen C. Schultz We have all heard the saying, "perception IS reality". Have you ever wondered where “vision” actually takes place? I went blind in my right eye when I was twenty four. (I did have lens implant surgery.) During that time I decided I was going to learn as much about vision as I could…without going to medical school. I came to realize that vision, simply stated, is light reflecting off objects, traveling through your iris, and then through your lens, hitting the back of your eyeball. At this time, the light hits the rods and cones and travels through your retina as electrical impulses. These electrical impulses then enter the brain and move along the neurons, cross the synapses as chemical neurotransmitters and then back into electrical impulses once they cross the synapses. This happens millions of times over fractions of a second. So, where does vision happen? There is no movie screen in our eyes or our head. If you think of your brain as a com

Clinical Case Study...Teen Sexual Problems

By Stephen C. Schultz Case Study : Jason, age 15, was referred to us because he was repeatedly sexually acting out in two previous placements. Each placement had a policy against these behaviors. Supervision was adequate for students without sexual issues. However, Jason required more extensive monitoring. Although he was acting out with same age peers, the sexual activity was not consensual and other students were complaining to their therapists, counselors and parents that Jason was actively and persistently seeking sexual activity with them. Jason was repeatedly warned and given sanctions but nothing stopped his behaviors. Treatment became marginalized for both Jason and his peers. Other students ostracized him from activities and would not discuss their issues in group therapy settings because he was present. Parents complained to therapists that they did not want this young man anywhere near their student, let alone in a therapy group. Jason was eventually removed from

Teen Party At The Beach - A Personal Experience

By Stephen C. Schultz Every person who reads this post has had an experience with someone who is addicted! That may seem like a pretentious statement, but sober thought brings us to the realization that it is true. My career has consisted of working with troubled teens and their families for over 25 years. I am an addictions counselor by training. Mine is an interesting scenario since it is usually important for someone in recovery to feel "connected" to their counselor through the shared experience of fighting addiction. Often those in recovery feel a "calling" in life to assist others through this physically difficult and emotionally painful process and they go on to become counselors themselves. My life has been a life void of personal substance abuse. However, I have seen the effects on my wife and her family, as well as our children, from a father/grandfather who suffered with a chronic Substance Use Disorder . He has since passed from complicating fact

Why Do Teenagers Get So Angry?

By Stephen C. Schultz There is probably no greater frustration facing parents than dealing with an angry adolescent. For teens, learning to deal with anger is a necessary and important part of the adolescent stages of development. Sometimes, the anger gets out of control and even becomes manipulative so the teen can get their way! If you have been dealing with an angry teen and it seems to be escalating, seeking some family therapy may be an option. It usually doesn't go well if the parents simply send the teen to a therapist. When this happens, the therapist is perceived by the teen to be an extension of the parents authority, thus making it difficult for the teen to open up and be honest about any pertinent issues. Parents can search Google for local Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW), or Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT), or Clinical Psychologists. Another good resource is the school counselor where your teen attends school. Your local clergy or

Teens and alcohol: an international snapshot

By Stephen C. Schultz Addiction and substance abuse problems don't seem to be getting better as the years go on. Even though there is ample research and treatment programs around the world, drugs and alcohol continue to find their victims. This is an article published in Addiction Professional magazine that takes an international look at teens and substance abuse. Take a seems to be a world wide problem.

Gaming Addiction...New Hope!

By Stephen C. Schultz "John" was a bright kid at twelve. He was a good student and had a loving supportive family. He was a bit shy, somewhat reserved, but personable. At all appearances he seemed to be a typical kid with a bright future as he entered early adolescence. Now, at 22, "Johns" parents are concerned. They have sarcastically joked that he is now officially a member of the "failure to launch" club. While he was accepted to the local State University right out of High School, he didn't even make it through the first semester. He stays in his room for hours at a time. He refuses to shower or maintain appropriate hygiene. When his parents force him to leave the house he becomes irritable and argumentative. A threat to get rid of the computer and internet service only escalates the fighting and contention in the home. "John" is a "Gamer"! I met Cosette Rae, MSW in Tucson at a conference for clinicians and treatment

The Pizza Caper...A Nine Year Old's Sneaky Adventure!

By Stephen C. Schultz I’m the father of four children. Three daughters and a son! My oldest, Stephanie, is 18. Then there is Ryan 17, Amanda 13 and Emma 9. Several months ago I walked in the door after work one evening and decided to order pizza for dinner. I asked Stephanie to take the car and go pick up the pizza after her mother ordered it. Amanda wanted to go with her sister and little Emma soon followed. I said it was fine for Amanda to go help her sister and I told Emma that she needed to go get washed up and ready for bed before the pizza arrived. Emma started to throw a little fit, but soon stopped when she realized it wasn’t going to work. Stephanie and Amanda walked passed me out the door towards the garage. Emma disappeared and I assumed she went upstairs to wash up. About ten minutes later, my cell phone rang and Stephanie’s number appeared on the screen. As most parents would, I had flashes of her being in an accident. I was surprised to hear Emma’s drawn

Pornography - Simple Teenage Right of Passage or Harmful Addiction?

By Stephen C. Schultz There is an increasing dialogue going on behind the scenes amongst parents and educators. Over the last few years, I have had increasing numbers of conversations with parents sharing concerns about their daughters "sleeping around". Many more include parents' concerns about their sons viewing pornography on the computer. Are these just "uptight" parents? No, these are parents who have struggled with competing thoughts about what is "normal" and what isn't. Thoughts like; "Oh, I fooled around a little bit when I was a kid. They will grow out of it." "Aw...every kid looks at dirty pictures when they are a teenager." etc. These parents instinctively recognize there is something different about what is happening today as compared to the "shenanigans" of yesteryear. Here is some information I hope you find interesting. This is a Doctor at Princeton who discusses the physiological aspects o

A Mom’s Tears

By Stephen C. Schultz "The only description I can give of this mother upon arrival is pure exhaustion. I gave her a huge hug as she came in. She seemed to sink against me. Her eyes were glassy as she took in the facility, the photos on the walls, the boys rooms. Within about fifteen minutes of her arrival we were packing up her son and sending him to the mountain." Read more of this touching experience here...

What happens after a wilderness treatment program?

By Stephen C. Schultz They can bust fires, build traps, hike for miles, and turn the most basic of meals into a gourmet experience. And RedCliff Ascent  grads can also hit the books. Many parents wonder what the options are after their son or daughter attends a wilderness treatment program. RedCliff Ascent defines a successful wilderness treatment experience as: 1. Re-engagement in the developmental progress of the student 2. Improvements in a client's physical well being, emotional health, interpersonal relationships and      social engagement 3. Completion of the wilderness-based curriculum 4. Alignment with an appropriate level of aftercare If your son or daughter needs an experience that will help instill a sense of determination, focus and resilience around life's demands, be sure to check out Aloft Transitions . Aloft specializes in working with young adults to practice the skills they have learned in wilderness.

Brittany Is Smiling

Guest Blogger Jennifer C. Jones Brittany is smiling. Her large, liquid brown eyes shine but there is a certain sadness in them as well. You can barely see the scars on her arms. “I was cutting myself,” she admits matter-of-factly. “I guess that’s why they sent me to RedCliff . I tried suicide twice.” Just 15 years old, she grew up in an abusive home. An aunt stepped in and took Brittany to live with her. But the girl’s problems persisted. She threatened her niece with wilderness intervention but Brittany, rebellious, depressed, and dabbling in drugs, never thought she’d follow through. Until the day when her aunt handed her over to two escorts and tearfully told her niece, “This is the hardest thing I've ever had to do.” Brittany spent more than four months in the harsh wilderness. She refused to pass off her course work because, as she explains, “I really thought the rest of my family would guilt trip my aunt into coming and getting me.” Her aunt held fast. Tod

"Remodeling" of Self

By Stephen C. Schultz I find it interesting that when someone is remodeling their home, visitors are very tolerant of improvements that are obviously underway. Yet, when someone is remodeling their character, others seem to feel an obligation to call attention to the messy signs of remodeling, or remember aloud things as they were! How we respond to others imperfections says more about our development than theirs.

If it Doesn’t Work, Don’t Replicate It

By Stephen C. Schultz Parents looking for therapeutic help for their troubled teen are often apprehensive about Discovery Ranch’s unusual academic program. “It’s just so different,” they say, searching for words that won’t insult but will describe their observations of our learning environment. To that we say simply, “Thanks!” We work hard to make sure our learning and teaching program looks nothing like systems used by other public or private schools. The reason is simple: Those programs don’t work. Your child is probably proof. Here’s why Discovery Ranch is the best place for troubled teens to learn:

Adult Children of Alcoholics - The Problem

This was probably written by Claudia Black or Janet G. Woititz . It's a good description of the struggles an Adult Child of an Alcoholic faces in life. Many of us found that we had several characteristics in common as a result of being brought up in an alcoholic or other dysfunctional household. We had come to feel isolated and uneasy with other people, especially authority figures. To protect ourselves, we became people pleasers, even though we lost our own identities in the process. All the same we would mistake any personal criticism as a threat. We either became alcoholics ourselves married them, or both. Failing that, we found other compulsive personalities, such as a workaholic, to fulfill our sick need for abandonment. We lived life from the standpoint of victims. Having an over developed sense of responsibility; we preferred to be concerned with others rather than ourselves. We got guilt feelings when we trusted ourselves, giving in to others. We became reactors

I Long For a Victim-less America!

By Stephen C. Schultz Being an American, I grew up thinking and feeling that Americans had a “can do” attitude about most everything. If there was a disaster, we came to the rescue. If there was a problem that needed solving, we could do so as a Nation. I recall in January of 1982 driving with my father and hearing on the radio about the airliner that crashed into the Potomac River outside of Washington DC. There was a group of four or five passengers in the frigid water. Helicopters flew in to lower life rings and pull out survivors. There was one man, Arland Williams, in the water who kept handing the life ring to the others. The chopper would raise the people out of the water and drop them on the shore, then immediately return for another. Arland Williams assisted every other passenger and when the chopper came back to get him, he had disappeared below the icy water. To me, that was a true American...brave, selfless, principled, compassionate, daring, committed and courageou

The Healing Touch

Guest Blogger Jennifer C. Jones Sherry Sheffield has been a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist for almost a decade. But she’d never seen anything like what happened in the horse arena at Discovery Ranch . Ashley (not her real name) struggled with Reactive Attachment Disorder. The 16-year-old was literally looking for love and acceptance in all the wrong places, all the wrong ways. In a desperate attempt to stop their daughter’s destructive behaviors, Ashley’s adoptive parents placed her at Discovery Ranch . “Ashley loves horses” Sherry recalls, “but her mother is terrified of them. We were doing an activity in the arena with about six free-running horses. Her mother was increasingly anxious and frightened. She finally said she would just step back near the fence and observe.” For the students, the object appears to be to move the horses, without using a rope and without force, through a designated obstacle course. No verbal communication is allowed. Raul Willard, equin

Troubled Teens "Picture" Success

Guest blogger Jennifer C. Jones To the casual observer, the piece of poster board decorated with magazine cutouts might be just another art project. But to Oxbow students, these are “vision boards,” tangible reminders of their personal mission statements. It is a picture of what they hope to achieve in the future. “The vision board serves two purposes,” says Executive Director Shawn Brooks . “It helps the student who is struggling to have a visual representation of his mission statement and it helps him believe in what he is saying.” These vision boards are also helping therapists and staff tune in to what a boy is really feeling. “In his mission statement we might have a boy who talks about being a loving family member but there are no pictures of his family on his vision board,” Shawn explains. “There’s a conflict there. He stands up and says it but he’s not visualizing himself as part of that family. You start to get quite a bit more insight on how a boy is thinkin

Touching Thank You From a Grateful Father

By Stephen C. Schultz This letter was recieved at RedCliff Ascent. The names were changed, but other than that there have been no changes. "Thank you for your follow up both in e-mail and by phone. I like that you take this task as serious as you do. You promised it and you have done it thoroughly. So, thank you for that. But, in your position, I’m pretty certain I would find it impossible to remember – or even know – each person you must have to call. This is not a complaint on my part in any way. It just seems remarkable to me that you do this. I feel compelled to write you and to go into some detail, even though I doubt you will know what to do with it, because the timing of your communication is so uncanny and so close to the bone for us. As I write this, my son, Todd, sits across from me doing homework and is unaware I am writing this to you. In a few hours we will leave for a funeral. It is particularly raw because the boy who is being cremated is a friend of