Discovery Ranch

Discovery Ranch

ABOUT DISCOVERY RANCH

Located on more than 20 acres in the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains, Discovery Ranch provides residential treatment for boys aged 13 to 18 who are struggling with a range of emotional and behavioral disorders, including substance abuse and other addictions, eating disorders, learning disorders, anxiety, depression, trauma, ADHD, and more. Boys may come directly to this facility or enroll after completing a wilderness course.

Discovery Ranch is one of many facilities for troubled teens in Utah, where the industry is a major business.

TREATMENT & ASSESSMENT

The ranch focuses on experiential therapy and experiential learning, while helping clients to develop valuable life skills. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a cornerstone of the program, as is a focus on residents’ strengths. According to the facility’s website, residents are engaged in therapeutic activities all day long, often without even knowing it: “Therapists and mentors will often stop an activity or conversation and ask a student, ‘What skills have you learned that you could use right now?'” the website notes. Life skills are taught through work around the ranch, academic application, and DBT, as well as a peer leadership program.

The center’s experiential therapies include equine therapy, a ropes course, cross-country skiing, canoeing, and cycling, among other sports, plus dedicated provisions for wheelchair sports.

Discovery Ranch also provides academic education. The average class size is 12 students, and according to the facility’s website, each student follows a customized academic plan that allows them to spend more time on subjects they struggle with, and move quickly through subjects at which they excel.

Families are invited to participate in a weekly family therapy session, conducted over the phone, as well as structured parent days conducted three times a year.

STAFF CREDENTIALS

According to the facility’s website, all clinicians are educated to master’s or PhD level and have more than 20 years’ experience, and each therapist has a caseload of six or seven students. Residents also meet weekly with a psychiatrist, and there’s a nurse on-site Monday through Friday daytimes, and on call evenings and weekends. The program’s teachers as “licensed educators endorsed by the Utah State Office of Education.”

ACCOMMODATIONS & AMENITIES

The campus is home to two dogs, a cat, horses, cows, and some chickens, and the residents are responsible for caring for these animals, as well as completing other chores. Students also work together on quilts; each student leaves with a quilt completed by the team during their stay.

Families are invited to visit as often as they like, so long as it’s therapeutically helpful to the resident. Later in treatment, residents may go for off-campus visits, including overnight stays.

At events, residents are able to socialize with teenage girls living at a sister facility in Utah. All such events are supervised and open only to those residents who have demonstrated readiness.

WHAT ALUMNI SAY

All four of the reviews submitted to Best-rehabs.com to date were negative. The single reviewer polled on the facility’s offerings in a variety of treatment metrics gave it three stars for its treatment for co-occurring disorders, two stars for its family participation, and one star for its holistic offerings and its counseling options.

The reviewers repeatedly mentioned poor treatment from staff: “Some of the staff were great people, but some were extremely mean… I have nightmares about Discovery Ranch almost every night. I am currently going to therapy because of the damage they have done,” Mollie wrote, describing in particular homophobic attitudes and punishments for self-harm and academic problems; alum Jack also noted that the staff’s attitudes were very conservative. In addition, two reviewers noted that the center’s educational program was underwhelming.

Secondary sites yielded mixed feedback at the time of this writing: the center had average ratings of 3.1 stars based on 22 reviews on Google, and 2.83 stars based on 18 reviews on Yelp.[1] [2] Several reviewers noted that they enjoyed their stay and found it beneficial: “I was a student here, and I like to say that I enjoyed being here. It helped me understand a lot more about myself,” J.J. wrote in a representative review on Google. However, several alumni echoed those polled by Best-rehabs.com by describing poor treatment at this facility: “Terrible place don’t send your child here… After discovery ranch I couldn’t even talk to my parents for months because of the trauma it caused me,” D.K. wrote in a representative review on Yelp.

CONCLUSION

Discovery Ranch’s website indicates that some families have been able to collect insurance reimbursement for treatment, though the center does not appear to accept insurance up-front. The facility also has a relationship with medical loans company Prosper Healthcare Lending.

In 2014, a 17-year-old boy escaped from Discovery Ranch and went missing for more than two weeks, as reported on NJ.com, from his home state of New Jersey. “He said he just didn’t like the regimented schedules, and having to be confined,” his father told NJ.com. In addition, CourthouseNews.com reported in 2015 that: “A boy was sexually assaulted repeatedly at a residential treatment program for troubled teens, until his attacker was found committing bestiality with a horse, the teen and his parents claim in court.” The article asserts that the boy was groomed by a fellow resident, and that the assaults “went undiscovered and unchecked” for several months.

At the time of this writing, Best-rehabs.com was unable to find facility responses to either of these cases.

[1] https://goo.gl/d0qTkm
[2] https://www.yelp.com/biz/discovery-ranch-mapleton

Reviews about Discovery Ranch

  • Treatment Effectiveness
  • Accommodations & Amenities
  • Meals & Nutrition
  • Absolutely amazing! the best place for troubled teens .
  • Treatment Effectiveness
  • Accommodations & Amenities
  • Meals & Nutrition
  • The food and facilities are not bad for a rehab. The program and therapy are complete garbage, the staff are conservative Mormons that are extremely close minded and old fashioned, and the cost is absurd. All around a terrible place to go that offers very little in therapy. After leaving, most other clients and myself spiraled down hill and needed up worse than when we got there. Do not spend money on an "educational consultant", they will take massive amounts of your money and offer very little. Never send somebody to treatment that does not want to be there. Never, if you do, it could seriously harm that person and your relationship. Avoid places in Utah, and treatment centers for minors in general. Find a place that offers decent food because on a day to day quality-of-life basis, it can make a major difference in the experience. Less restrictive rehabs are usually the best, places that focus on the actual benefit of the client and not just money or teaching discipline.
  • Treatment Effectiveness
  • Accommodations & Amenities
  • Meals & Nutrition
  • this place is horrible. it needs to get reviewed immediately, as students are treated so poorly.
    Great staff with terrible coordinators. Staff rarely last more than a year and when they do they are still making what they started at. Definitely not getting paid enough to continue to do what they do. Turnover is ridiculous because they can't keep the people good at the job.
  • Treatment Effectiveness
  • Accommodations & Amenities
  • Meals & Nutrition
  • I was a student at Discovery Ranch from 2012 to 2013. There are a lot of messed up things about the place, so I'll start with school. The independent study idea sounds great, It really does! But it's no way to learn. They basically give your child a chapter of a textbook for each class they're taking and they expect the kid to study it and pass multiple test on within 4 days. Depending on your level, you have to do more. If you don't pass a certain amount of tests, you will be put on a "protocol" called A-POH. (academic privileges on hold) A-POH lasts a whole week and you lose all your privileges. Its humiliating and beyond unfair for someone who really struggles in school. I never struggled with self-harm, but I can't imagine how scary it must be to feel urges to hurt your own body. As a punishment for cutting/hurting yourself, the staff put you in a red jumpsuit no matter how hot it is outside. Punishing someone for being in pain is beyond cruel. If you kiss someone or do anything "wrong" they will make you sit in a conference room and isolate you for around 5 days staring at a wall in a school desk. You don't get to eat with the rest of the kids or even go to school with the rest of the kids. The program is very anti gay because of their religious views. Not only did we have go by their religious dress code, but we were taught that sex is bad and to literally hate yourself if you've had sex. The calf program is disgusting. It sounds cute and sweet when you first hear about it. It's for the "adoption program". It's supposed to teach the kids that were adopted to accept separation and pain being a mother having to give your child up. Of course, they're cows, and when they reach a certain age, DR sends them to an auction to get slaughtered. My birth mom had no intentions of me being slaughtered. The program just gets money from the cows when they're auctioned off. Parent phone calls were always supervised by therapists. They never let us talk about the real problems with our relationships and with what was going on at home. A 30 minute phone call once a week for a year will do nothing, I promise. Some of the staff were great people, but some were extremely mean. You'd have to get on the staffs good side. I can't even count the amount of times staff complained about their pay. I also doubt that the program does any background checks on some of these people. The food is absolutely disgusting. I gained a huge amount of weight at Discovery Ranch. It was all processed food. They tell the parents they teach the kids to love themselves and their bodies and then they give the kids the most unhealthy foods. I'd continue, but I hope that you guys get the point. If you're searching for help, please do lots of research before sending your child somewhere. If your child sends you a letter telling you how messed up the place is, LISTEN to them. I have nightmares about Discovery Ranch almost every night. I am currently going to therapy because of the damage they have done. I wish you and your child luck and I promise things will get better.