Copper Hills Youth Center

Copper Hills Youth Center


Located 30 miles outside of Salt Lake City in Utah, Copper Hills Youth Center is a rehabilitation and education facility serving adolescents, ages 12 to 17, from across the country. Clients come to treatment with a range of concerns and conditions, including primary psychiatric and co-occurring substance use disorders, behavioral misconduct, and autism spectrum challenges. Much of the programming is gender-specific and Copper Hills also prioritizes recreation-based therapies. All residents attend the on-site, accredited school.


Admission begins with a Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory and further assessment of each client’s history and present condition. The facility’s website notes that its services are a good fit for an adolescent who has been diagnosed with a psychiatric or addiction disorder and who has not succeeded in recovery through outpatient therapies.

Copper Hills Youth Center emphasizes structure, modeling, accountability, and education. Residents gain awareness and coping skills through individual and group counseling sessions in a physically active, trauma-informed, psychotherapeutic program. Dyadic developmental psychotherapy and Therapeutic Community practices underlie the treatment process.

Five assignments constitute a core treatment plan for dual diagnosis clients, including an autobiography, accountability exercises, correction of thinking errors, understanding relapse cycles, and preparing a plan for recovery maintenance. While in residence, clients also receive communication training and tools for developing social and daily living skills.

Recreational therapies introduce the teens to positive leisure activities and strengthen resilience. Ropes courses, hiking, camping, river rafting, and equine- and pet-assisted, art, and music therapies are all available.

Family participation in the recovery process is encouraged.


Staff members at Copper Hills Youth Center include physicians, nurses, licensed therapists, mental health associates, and teachers. A job description linked on the facility’s website indicates that mental health technicians have no educational requirements beyond high school but some study in social services or psychology is preferred.


The facility has living, learning, and therapy spaces. Vibrant school rooms, a cafeteria, and a full library provide support for clients’ academic success and healthy self-esteem. Photographs on the Copper Hills website show comfortable lounges, a ping pong table, a climbing wall, indoor and outdoor weight-conditioning equipment, and a basketball court. Shared bedrooms are personalized and bright with high windows.


Opinions about this facility’s staff, treatment effectiveness, and accommodations are mixed. The sole alum polled by to date awarded four or five out of five stars each for metrics measuring effectiveness, available exercise and leisure activities, family participation, options in counseling approaches, the staff’s level of training and experience, and the facility’s cleanliness and upkeep. They also rated their likelihood to recommend the program to others five stars. However, the survey respondent reported a need for more individual treatment, while rating meals and nutrition, connectivity with the outside world, and holistic therapy options less favorably, with two or three stars apiece. “Great staff! poor food quality,” the alum K.H. wrote in summary.

Eighteen Google reviews of Copper Hills Youth Center reflect more extreme perspectives. The facility received an average rating of 3.3 out of five stars, split about three-to-two between positive and negative feedback. Written reviews leaned more heavily toward criticism and two strong trends were apparent. Complaints tended to characterize the facility as too strict and to report poor quality or not enough food, poorly maintained facilities, and unprofessional staff. The center’s strictness figured in a range of reviews, both positive and negative. One alum wrote: “I was here, great place with staff who love kids (no matter how strict),” but another described “overly aggressive” staff behavior as well as not enough staff members. A third reviewer reported that their life changed positively despite their initial skepticism.[1]


A loved one’s Google review described the facility as appropriate for adolescents struggling with behavioral health disorders but not for those with anxiety and depression. This perspective concurs with several alumni comments. Two additional loved ones criticized Copper Hills on Yelp as incompetent and unhelpful.[2]


Three former employees reviewed Copper Hills on Google, awarding one, two, and five stars, respectively. The five-star review particularly highlighted the program’s trauma treatment, while others echoed alumni complaints about high staff turnover, limited counseling services, and overly strict practices, characterizing the latter as punishment rather than structure.

On Glassdoor, eight more staff reviewers tended to agree. All eight represented staff members as working well together and positive, but most also expressed concerns about insufficient training and staffing. Even those with negative opinions, however, generally shared positive feelings toward the clients.[3]


According to its website, this facility accepts Medicaid from seven states, holds five state government funding contracts, and accepts most commercial and private insurance plans.

In November 2015, Copper Hills Youth Center was the site of a riot led by adolescent residents. Several local news outlets, including the Salt Lake City Fox affiliate, reported that police intervened and 10 residents were arrested, but no one was seriously injured.


Copper Hills Youth Center Reviews

  • Treatment Effectiveness
  • Accommodations & Amenities
  • Meals & Nutrition
  • Great staff! poor food quality. Try to connect better with individuals.