Elements wilderness therapy program has brought hundreds of young men and their families from confusion to clarity and from pain to hope. Combining the power of wilderness therapy with cutting-edge treatment approaches, we help young men find their way forward and families heal.
We work with young men, aged 13 – 17 who are struggling emotionally, behaviorally and/or relationally. Our students may be angry, depressed, withdrawn or involved in substance abuse, and many take little or no responsibility for their actions. Elements is a small, highly-specialized program designed to serve as a short-term, high-impact, affordable first step in the treatment process for these young men.
As you explore this website and discover what makes Elements such a special program, please feel free to call us at 801-505-8481 with any questions you may have about Elements or to discuss your son’s situation.
Small by Design
For the right young man at the right time, nothing is more affirming, more healing or more life-changing than a high-quality, clinically sound wilderness-treatment program. Elements was founded by three experienced wilderness therapy professionals who understood that the real power of wilderness therapy lay in a few key elements—all of which required that we remain a small, agile program. Our intentionally small size allows us to provide high-quality therapeutic relationships,specialize with the population and approaches that work best in a wilderness milieu, achieve rapid results to allow families to progress to the next treatment phase quickly, and balance a consistent curriculum with customization.
Having come from programs that grew quickly and, as a result, lost some of their effectiveness along the way, we knew that only by remaining a small, owner-operated program could we hope to preserve these foundational treatment elements, keeping our program in the sweet spot of wilderness therapy.
High quality therapeutic relationships are the key to effective wilderness therapy. Staying small allows us to quickly forge deep, trusting therapeutic relationships with all of our students and families. We manage the size of our program and our groups so that no one gets lost in the shuffle. Wilderness therapy requires a tight, nimble team of professionals who communicate effectively with each other and maintain trusting, accessible relationships with kids, families and involved professionals. Because our owners are also operators with hands-on roles in admissions, programming, and clinical work, they’re able to respond immediately to issues, opportunities and feedback, and have a vested interest in doing so.
We specialize in one thing—wilderness therapy for adolescent boys. For the right young man at the right time, wilderness therapy is the most effective therapeutic intervention available. Wilderness therapy is not designed as a replacement for long-term treatment or hospitalization; rather, it’s designed as a first step in the treatment process for young people struggling with issues such as loss or trauma, oppositionality, moderate to severe self-medication, anger management, social withdrawal or extreme moodiness (i.e. emotional dysregulation).
Keeping our program small allows us to be highly selective about the students we accept and, therefore, to focus on the specific approaches that work best with those students. Our focus on single-gender treatment allows us to further specialize in a manner that, research confirms, has special advantages in the treatment process. As a result of our specialized approach, we’re able to focus on what we do best so that we can deliver the most effective and efficient treatment possible.
High relational quality and a specialized approach allow the typical Elements student to experience a more efficient transition than the typical wilderness student. Our owner/operator approach keeps overhead low, quality high, and progress rapid, allowing us to charge less while delivering more. Our executive team is intimately involved in the day to day delivery of services. We are personally involved with every parent, student, team member and professional. We answer the phone, run groups, conduct individual therapy, train staff and manage day to day operations. In addition to reducing overhead, this approach allows us keep our relational, programmatic, safety, and customer-service quality very high. The money you save is a welcome byproduct of our effectiveness, efficiency and high quality. We’re proud of that. Since wilderness therapy is designed to be the first step in a family’s therapeutic healing process, we want our families to complete Elements with the resources they need to continue their therapeutic journey
Balance—Clinical Curriculum Plus Customization
The magic of effective wilderness treatment lies in creating a clear, consistent program of treatment based on research-supported treatment modalities, but adapting that program to the unique needs of each client. Our treatment staff is rigorously trained in a specific curriculum that includes DBT, classical and wilderness therapy approaches, Seven Challenges chemical-dependency programming, risk management, and wilderness safety. Consistent training and a programmatic approach ensures the highest level of quality control and allows all treatment team members to support a consistent treatment strategy. At the same time, our size allows us to customize each young man’s program in a coordinated manner, tweaking our robust curriculum as needed to fit his specific needs.
Many programs fail to maintain this balance; size or other factors compel them to err on the side of either a rigid one size fits all approach or a randomized approach based on the personality and preferences of a given group leader or therapist. Either extreme compromises both treatment efficacy and safety. By balancing the Elements of curriculum and customization, we have rediscovered the sweet spot of wilderness therapy. This is only possible in a small, owner-operated program.