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TESTIMONIALS

What Parents Have To Say About CERTS

We write this letter to help other parents who may want to hear about our family’s Moonridge Academy experience before making their own difficult decision…..

It’s very hard to think back to the time earlier this year when our family was torn apart by the pain that our daughter was experiencing – and thus all of us were experiencing. She was desperate to find some peace. We didn’t approve of the kids she was hanging out with, her grades were dropping, she was cutting, she was becoming sexually active, she was lying to us, and she was manipulating us. She was diagnosed with depression, anxiety and OCD. She was miserable.

Her therapist suggested Moonridge Academy. We went into shock. We were surprised and a little hurt that our daughter wanted to go (go…far away from where her problems were, or so she thought.) The more we checked into Moonridge and Kolob Canyon the more it sounded not like the summer camp we originally thought it was, but like boot camp, or “tough love” camp. How could we let our 14 year old baby go half way across the country and leave her with people we’d never met? Living with rules the likes of which she’d never imagined! How in the world could we trust these people we didn’t know? How could we even trust ourselves to make this decision?

In one way, our decision may have been more difficult, in that our daughter was not at what we thought was “rock bottom”. Did we need to consider such a drastic step? She was in terrible mental pain, but because there were no drugs or suicide attempts involved, we felt it was not life threatening. We may have been wrong in that assessment, as our daughter now credits Moonridge for “saving my life”. In another way, our decision may have been easier because our daughter wanted to go to Moonridge and felt it was her decision.

After many phone conversations with the Admissions Director, we did a very careful business-like decision analysis and then made the very personal, gut-wrenching decision that we would try Moonridge. As we didn’t make a preliminary visit, the Admissions Director said if it didn’t feel right when we arrived, we could just all walk away. Our daughter never asked to come back home with us. Honestly, we’re divided on what we would have done if she’d asked. (Mom probably would have said, give it a try; Dad probably would have gladly taken her back home.) But fortunately for all of us, our daughter was totally motivated to stay and “get better”.

Leaving our daughter and Moonridge that day was the hardest thing we’ve ever done or ever hope to have to do. We prayed she was in good hands and we’d done the right thing. While the staff we met when we dropped her off did a good job of creating trust and confidence, the separation and not knowing what was happening created a high level of anxiety for us. Then came several weeks of no contact with her. This was not a pretty picture. Mom was angry. She wanted to talk to her daughter. It is a miracle that we survived those first few weeks.

The first 10 minute phone call we got from our daughter seemed like 2 seconds. It was torture. Our first family therapy was cut short because our daughter wasn’t “cooperating”. More torture. But more “secrets” kept being revealed. Some really heavy duty stuff was being exposed. It was very tough. Family therapy sessions were draining. Very draining. And thought provoking.

The level work is also very demanding of the parents. Parental commitment to do the level work is a critical success factor. Do NOT underestimate the time, effort and challenging thinking that is required. Your daughter must know that you do it. (Send it to her so she sees it.) You could spend full time on the assignments if you were so inclined. We often spent entire weekends and evenings on it. We were very dedicated about these assignments and we believe you really do get out of the program what you put into it. We weren’t about to mess this up. We always had our level work completed before our daughter, so as not to hold her back from level advancement. (We were probably way too literal on this.)

The weekly phone call to the program director was our lifeline to our daughter. We would keep her on the phone for as long as possible – it was the next best thing to talking to our daughter. Just to hear little day-to-day details of life at Moonridge. Not all parents were interested in this. The parent support group can be very helpful if you take the initiative. There was no formal interaction. True, sometimes we parents just needed to complain, but sharing stories was also very helpful.

As you might be imagining, there is a happy ending to this story. But we must be honest and say that it was not all smooth sailing, there were many bumps along the road. We still do not always believe in all the rules and regulations, but we did follow them. We didn’t always feel like we had been adequately advised of the details of all rules and the impact of them on the parents. But someone was always available to listen to our complaints and suggestions. Communication was not always what we wanted or expected. Mom focused on all the details that were not as she expected, Dad tried much harder to look at the bigger picture, to imagine the end results. Moonridge is not perfect, but all the people we met were concerned and caring and seemed genuinely open to making continued improvements.

Once we got past a few family therapy sessions, we felt a little more at ease with the whole program. Talking to our daughter twice a week made a huge difference – it was a real comfort, even if she may have been struggling with some issues or homesick. We just wanted to hear her voice.

There was great anticipation for the first Parent Weekend. All the things Moonridge said to expect were true – the bittersweet aspect of it especially. It was wonderful to see our daughter. She did look great. She was happy to see us. Because of her self-motivation, she did not bombard us with the usual requests to return home. We really worked on the issues. Every minute was productive. At last we got to meet the all the staff and the other girls and see how they all interacted with each other. That was very helpful. Meeting the other parents was also helpful. It was hard to leave, but we finally had a real level of comfort in leaving our daughter at Moonridge. Now we’d had some progress and could see some light at the end of the tunnel. But not for long…

Now starts the anxiety of parents wanting to plan and prepare for graduation and homecoming. Way too early. But that’s what we’re good at. Planning so that we miss the fewest milestones possible. We’d already missed many milestones (as will everyone who attends Moonridge.) We missed Confirmation, 8th Grade Graduation and a trip to Paris to mention a few of the highlights. Now we wanted her to start school on time. All the things that Moonridge cautions you against. Trying to plan home visits around our schedule, not our daughter’s or Moonridge’s. This last minute stuff is not how we usually operate. It’s expensive too! We needed to concentrate more on the level work and less on graduation. It was a difficult time. And it caused anxiety for our daughter knowing we were pushing her – before she was ready. Her reluctance to move ahead caused us additional stress. But still, her progress, slow as it seemed to us, kept us all moving forward.

The first home visit was wonderful, but way too short and tiring (immediately after a Parent Weekend – which is emotionally draining itself). Once again, motivated our daughter followed all the rules – never asked to stay home. She was determined to graduate even though several girls had already left the program without graduating.

We just hung in there. Just kept doing the work. Just kept on supporting our daughter. One more Parent Weekend, one more home visit. Just kept on learning so much. The books were wonderful. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens and Families, Parenting Teens, Reviving Ophelia – all wonderful. Of course, we’d read 7 Habits/Families years before and got nowhere with it. You really have to live it to, well…..live it. This time around, we’re living it!

In addition to the one-on-one and group therapy, the experiential therapy (equine, ropes, hikes, etc.) the girls get is awesome. We’re not always sure it sinks in at the time, but hopefully when it’s needed they can retrieve it. Some of the special therapy Kent provides was especially helpful for our daughter and Dad. Getting that second 10 minute phone call each week was also wonderful.

Home contract. We started early with Home Rules and used it as a guideline for the home contract. We learned that each girl/family is different. What worked for us may not work for you. We were told that contracts were long and detailed. That didn’t work for us. You will find what works for you. This applies to the entire program. It is very different for each family.

Graduation was a very exciting and nervous time for us – we desperately wanted our daughter home. (And we were still not happy about, but resigned to the fact that she missed the first 2 weeks of school.) But would we be able to live everything we learned? Would there be serious set-backs, relapses? Dad was more worried than Mom, but then Mom would think: maybe she wasn’t worried enough. Our daughter too was very excited and nervous and sad. She would be leaving all her friends and support staff. People she lived with 24/7. It would be scary, not to mention pretty boring and lonely at home after what Dad called living at the sorority house.

It was the longest six months of our lives. But ultimately it was the most productive six months.

Four months at home now…our daughter is at the local school, making good friends who share her principles and values. She is having fun and acting like a 14 year old. She’s joined several clubs at school. She quit her dance class, but still loves yoga. She begins volunteering at the hospital next month. While we still do not share her taste in clothing styles, we have learned to let go of some our controlling ways. We are trying to let our daughter make her own choices and live with the consequences, and she is doing an excellent job.

Our daughter’s had a few meltdowns, but nothing too bad, that she hasn’t been able to handle. Her biggest adjustment was missing the girls and staff terribly. She still calls weekly to talk to staff and she writes to the girls too. No relapses of cutting or hanging out with “non-working” friends. Only a few short “pity parties”. This, despite the additional stress of starting a new “High” school, not being selected for Orchesis and not having a date for Homecoming.

Our daughter continues individual therapy that was just reduced from once a week to every other week. She has gone out with groups of friends but has not dated boys and has taken excellent care of her plant (in lieu of a boyfriend). She is following the home contract willingly (well…with the exception of keeping her room clean – it continues to be a disaster that we are overlooking in the scheme of things.)

Our daughter is now a delight to be around. We thoroughly enjoy her company. And she even enjoys, well… ok, maybe tolerates our company. She makes us laugh and we can even make her laugh. She occasionally reminds us of some of the many lessons she’s learned at Moonridge. And we all end up laughing! We have all changed immensely. There are no regrets- only joy in our new-found happiness and peace.

While the Moonridge program is demanding and challenging, the results are rewarding and life changing. The range of emotions that you may experience throughout your journey will be greater than you could ever have imagined. However there is great hope ahead if our experience is any indication of the potential for success.

We credit Moonridge as the catalyst for our daughter and our entire family to have experienced such positive growth. We anticipate and look forward to a Very Happy New Year in 2005. We wish you the same.

We hope we have adequately expressed our appreciation for all that everyone at Moonridge has done for our family. “Thank you” doesn’t seem adequate, but then what would? So, THANK YOU Moonridge.


Sincerely,
The “R” Family, IL



“Things had become unmanageable in my life with my 13 year old. They had been deteriorating for a year when I sent her, at her request to live with her father. I hoped that he would be able to do what I hadn't. She left my home in Florida in June a year ago.

It was apparent to me from nearly the beginning that there was less control with her dad than there had been with me. The phone calls that I received were distressing at best. A series of out of control scenarios came in the form of late night calls and discussions between her dad and I about what our options were.

Finally at 2AM on a late November night, I got a call stating that my daughter had taken 2 bottles of over-the-counter pain medicine and she and my ex-husband were headed for the local emergency room. The next day I was on a plane to NYC, and at the beginning of the destination of what ended up being Kolob Canyon Residential Treatment Center.

When I got to the hospital, my daughter had gotten out of intensive care and was on the pediatric ward with a 24-hour companion as she was in danger of suicide and running. She was wild by any standards, unwilling to talk and unrealistic about the seriousness of her situation. She said she wanted to go out that weekend and party with her friends! There was little getting through to her and her father and I were totally unprepared to take her home, knowing that she had no intention of modifying her behavior. Her use of alcohol and dabbling with drugs, sex and defiant behavior had become her norm, and we were helplessly watching as our daughter descended into a dark world. I called a friend who is a therapist and got referrals of places that she had successfully sent other teenagers who were troubled and began the search for where to place our child.

Kolob was the place that caught my eye first and then agreed upon by my ex-husband and our family who helped with the financial arrangements. We liked the use of equine therapy in addition to daily regular therapy and the non-denominational spiritual focus. We felt we needed at least 6 months for both our daughter to look at her life and make changes and for us as parents to do our own work. We realized that she hadn't gotten into this situation alone. It was definitely all of us who found ourselves here through misdirection and the mishandling of many years of her life, and we all needed to work to get her back.

Sending her was a very hard decision to make and our daughter was very opposed initially. She was devastated for the first month or so and so was I. She was angry with me primarily and I wondered if I would ever have a relationship with my daughter again.

As time went by and we began visiting on the parents’ weekends, the changes in her were astounding. She began communicating and thinking in a new way.

She came home in June. She is still the same girl she was, a teenager with difficulties and life challenges abounding, but she has shown an integrity and sweetness that I had forgotten she possessed. I am indebted to Kolob and the staff there for giving me an opportunity to know my child and with the possibility of seeing her grow up into the amazing adult that I know she can be.


--Y. W., Florida


 

“She is much more rational and has learned self-control and self-awareness at Kolob Canyon…She can interact with her parents and her siblings on a much more mature level. Thanks for the help. God Bless.”

--S. R., California

 


It has been nearly a year since our daughter completed her program at Kolob Canyon. She is currently a freshman in college and doing quite well; she is making good choices around friendships, actively participates in campus life and has been able to prioritize when it comes to her studies. But perhaps more important than her achievements, she has reconnected with us and her siblings. We feel as though we have our daughter back – the daughter who brought us so much joy and who was so sensitive and caring as a young child.

When we sent our daughter to Kolob Canyon we felt as though we had exhausted our resources. We had been to family therapy, individual therapy, an eating disorder clinic, outpatient hospitalizations, a private single sex school, parochial school and public schools. She had been on a downward spiral and it seemed as though nothing we did really mattered.

Kolob Canyon provided our daughter with a secure and loving holding environment where, under the direction of a well-trained and nurturing clinical staff, she could begin to heal and reconnect with the good inside of herself. While she was at Kolob we were also on the journey with her and being challenged to do our individual and family work. I believe that one of the greatest strengths of Kolob Canyon’s program was the family component. We can look back now and realize the strength and growth we experienced as a couple and family during our daughter’s treatment. Our entire family is in a much better place at this point in how we respect and communicate with one another. I am truly grateful for the time my daughter spent at Kolob Canyon and for the joy and laughter that has come back into our lives!


--T.B., Pennsylvania


 

It was difficult to acknowledge that my daughter needed help with life coping skills that I had been unable to give her. When life's choices and challenges lead our daughters to make decisions that are not healthy and positive it is necessary to get help. Kolob Canyon has been an extraordinary experience for my daughter. She has amazed herself with the understanding and perceptions that have evolved. The atmosphere is one of nurturing and care without the escapes and pretenses our teens use to avoid life.

My concerns that my daughter was not motivated, confident, or optimistic about her future and her self-harm led us to this program. The changes that she feels and the self-knowledge that she now has are very exciting for us both. I truly believe that this experience and the lessons my daughter has learned not only saved her life but also taught her skills and insights that will help her to lead a happier and more productive life. I can't imagine a better program for my daughter and our family- her future is open to great possibilities. I have not felt that way in a long time.


--K.F., California

“Just a long overdue note to let you know that our daughter is doing ever-so-well. I am amazed that I am actually enjoying my daughter’s company for maybe the first time in many a year…She has met a nice young man who neither drinks or smokes and she has been very responsible in her dealing with me about him and everything. She told me yesterday that she was in to building trust!!! What a concept! I am so very grateful. Thank you so very much. Whatever happened there was indeed a blessing.”

--Y. W., Florida

I would just like to mention that Kolob Canyon therapists really understood what all the parents were going through and how everyone needed the support of each other. Contact with others was encouraged as was sharing. Although it was difficult to share, it was extremely helpful to see and feel that you were not alone. This instilled a feeling of closeness among the parents and also a feeling of closeness with the therapists as they shared their own experiences.

Another area in which Kolob excels is the availability of the therapists. David was available day & night, weekdays and weekends. It is a 24/7 job for him. He cares.


-- M. L., Missouri

When I realized my daughter needed help, she was 16 and my husband and I felt that if nothing was done she was going to be dead, hurt someone or someone would hurt her. Kolob Canyon is saving our daughter's life .She is learning the skills that we as parents somehow were not successful at doing so. What I love about the program is that it really involves the parents and my husband and I in many ways feel that we too are in the program and we have so much to learn. Kolob canyon has been an answer to many prayers and indeed we are blessed to have given our family an opportunity to be a family... May you too be blessed in your quest to find what is best for you and your beloved daughters..
Aloha from Hawaii,


-- A.M., Hawaii

 

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