The International Reach of RedCliff Ascent

By Stephen C. Schultz

I was sitting in my office the other day and got a call from a therapist at RedCliff Ascent. He mentioned to me that he had met with an international educational consultant last week at one of the RedCliff Ascent wilderness treatment program graduations. This particular consultant had come to the States from Russia to act as a translator for the family of the student who was graduating. He was helping the family get the student placed in a traditional boarding school after his graduation from RedCliff. This consultant mentioned to the therapist that he may have another student to enroll in RedCliff soon.
I did a little research and it turns out that RedCliff has had three students from Russia over the last few months.
RedCliff Ascent regularly has international students attend. I have actually been out in the backcountry and visited at different times with students from the United Kingdom, France, Bermuda, Israel, Australia, Singapore, Italy, Russia, Netherlands and Brazil to name a few.
Then, just this morning I saw an email inquiry from a Danish family member concerned about her sister. I have included it below without any corrections in spelling or grammar.

Message : Hi there,   I came across your site doing research for wilderness programs, and have some extra questions… My little sister (17) was just this week diagnosed with major depression. She goes to boarding school, and yesterday was withdrawn by my parents and is now back home on suicide watch. My parents have agreed with the doctor and have out her on depression meds, called sertralin teva. I really don\'t like the idea of using chemicals and taking medicine and drugs for depression and ADHD though. I have very bad ADD but never took medicine for it as I didn\'t like the numb feeling, and figured out how to cope with the ADD without meds… Is it possible to do this with depression as well? I was thinking that maybe a wilderness camp such as yours instead of taking meds, might be a better approach to cure it? Do you specialise mainly with young adults suffering from drug addiction, or is depression also focused on? If not could you maybe recommend a camp that specialises mainly with depression? My parents are planning to keep her out of school and at home for a year before returning to her senior year of high school… I really think a wilderness camp with on hand therapists would be better than having her sitting at home on popping pills alone with her thoughts. I am very worried about her…   Any help or more information on your camp would be greatly appreciated!  Kind Regards,   Annica H.  ps. would the price of the program be different as she is not a US citizen? We are Danish.

These kinds of inquiries are quite common, and they break your heart. You can sense the concern of this young lady for her sister. Families across the globe are searching for answers when faced with mental health and emotional concerns.
I think the sister in the scenario above is correct when she suggests there needs to be more to a therapeutic intervention than staying at home for a year and taking medication for depression. Medication can certainly play a part, but therapy also includes having therapeutic experiences that encourage the development of self awareness, insight, competence, achievement, motivation and resilience.
I don’t know what will happen in this situation. RedCliff may or may not be a viable option for this family. I do know that there are a certain percentage of families around the world who are silently suffering with teens that are struggling. It is a lonely place for the sister mentioned above to actually go on the internet and start searching for answers.
While this message came to RedCliff from across the globe, I think it is important for all of us to remember that these same situations exist within our own communities. There are families silently suffering through emotional pain. There are parents and children, through no fault of their own; quietly doing the best they can in the situation they find themselves. Often, as neighbors and friends, we more than others can provide an added boost of encouragement or blanket of belonging.

To learn more about an International Boarding School that works with teens who struggle with emotional concerns, please see this post as well.


Unknown said…
what an inspiring story.
How sad it is that the first thought of 'treatment' is to Take a Pill.
I love what you and Red Cliff are doing... You cannot treat the disease (addictions and depressions) if you do not address the underlying issues and help the sufferer process and come out the other side into Joy Serenity and Hope.
Thank you Tracy for your comment. So true!!!

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