In the beginning, we tried to have our program be everything to everyone. We wanted to be the very best at clinical, academics, peer culture, extracurricular activities, recovery meetings, and everything else we do (we could probably list twenty things or more).
We finally realized that we can only be the very best in the world at one thing. While other aspects are very important and we do them very well, we realized we had to identify what we are best at, and emphasize that throughout our programs – and realize that everything else we do needs to be in service to that one thing.
Again, extracurriculars, school, work, and other aspects of a transitional program (which all transitional programs employ to some extent) are important, and we do them all well. However, to change for good, in every sense of the phrase, we realized the mindful approach is critical – and it’s the backbone of our program. When, through this approach, lasting change happens from the inside out, all of the particulars of one’s life naturally fall in line.
We realized we are the very best at helping anxious people with a history of poor choices to understand themselves, change how they relate to themselves and others, and make lasting changes that will stay with them for a lifetime.
Our program is not always clean or linear. It can appear messy, and often appears to have a lot of ups and downs, just like life. This is intentional, because we want our students to be PREPARED for life after treatment. We want them to have the opportunity to make mistakes, be accountable, learn from their mistakes, and make better choices. Rather than attempting to control them, we attempt to build relationships in which they develop internal motivation and change from the inside out. This change, unlike the change experienced in programs attempting to control behavior, is LASTING.
The mindfulness component is a game changer in that it allows our students to learn how to work with their minds effectively and become their own best friend. No other transitional programs do it quite the way we do, because we are founded on mindfulness principles gleaned over decades of study and teaching our founders engaged in during their own healing journeys.
The most significant by-product of our mindfulness-based approach is the way our students change from the inside out. As one’s relationship with oneself changes through practicing mindfulness and engaging in mindfulness-informed therapy, one’s relationships with others changes as well, because one is more intentional and creative in relating, rather than being reactive.
This shows up again and again in our culture. Red Mountain students have a huge amount of connection, commitment, genuineness, respect and mutual support with one another. Our students genuinely care about each other and we help them learn how to get along and move in a common direction even with people that they wouldn’t normally be friends with. This approach extends into academic and workplace success, and perhaps most importantly, a changing dynamic within families.
The last aspect of this approach is the way we create a permeable container where students move in-and-out of our bubble and have the opportunity to apply the skills they are learning with us to real-life situations.
We teach our students to learn from mistakes, and show them that this learning is a lifelong process. Growth at Red Mountain is about noticing how we respond to our mistakes and making better choices from there. Over time these errors come to no longer even be seen as mistakes, but as a choice, our students have learned from.
Our approach replicates in many ways what a young person will experience as they move into their post-treatment life, and will include a combination of therapeutic work, executive functioning skills, academic and/or vocational progress, mindfulness, fun and independence, while providing structure and a high level of safety.
Our approach does not create an artificial container of safety that ensures “success” within the bubble while sacrificing lifelong change. Rather it provides structure and support to minimize falling back into old behaviors, and encourages growth within oneself. It provides opportunities and freedoms that align with the student’s therapeutic growth. This creates a natural and sustainable step into life, rather than the abrupt leap into the “deep end” that is often the path of programs which shelter students and only teach them to thrive within the framework of the program’s bubble.
Our approach is definitely different and, we think, more effective, but it’s not for everyone — but when the right student comes to our program and sees the process through, the finished product is simply astounding. Our students graduate ready to live life on life’s terms, and ready to create a vision and manifest that vision for their lives. Because they’ve had experience with increasing freedom, trust, community connection, trust, and responsibility, they leave our programs confident in their abilities, and ready to live their best possible life.