Spring is a Metaphor for Change at Turn-About Ranch, Even After 31 Years in Operation
Turn-About Ranch, located in Escalante, Utah, kicks off its 31st year of operation with newborn animals, reminding clients, families, and staff of the rich metaphors that envelope daily life on this working cattle ranch/residential treatment center for adolescents. About 75 new calves will arrive by the end of March, along with additional lambs, chicks, ducklings, and bunnies. Spring creates an opportunity to learn, and caring for new animals is used as a therapeutic tool to assist clients in their immerging insight about themselves and their relationships. Clients are participating in everything from doctoring calves to moving cattle. The delicate balance of new life requires clients to learn responsibility, empathy, and face difficult situations like life and death. “Each new addition to the Ranch offers a unique opportunity for our clients to gain personal insights and life-changing experiences,” says Shane Young, MS, CMHC, Admissions Director.
Turn-About Ranch, founded in 1989, has evolved and changed over the decades, but the experiential learning aspect of working on a cattle ranch is still just as effective. In the 100 day program, the experiential living, combined with individualized and family therapy with licensed clinicians and academics, assist in refining a client’s treatment plan. Michelle Lindsay, LCMHC, and Executive Director of Turn-About Ranch says, “There are lots of treatment programs that refer to themselves as a ‘Ranch’, but we’re an authentic working cattle ranch so students are able to experience real, meaningful ranch work. Whether on desert or mountain range, rounding up or checking on cattle, our students gain confidence in their abilities to work and overcome difficulties that might arise just in the normal day-to-day experiences working with animals. This builds self-confidence and there’s a positive energy that begins to happen as our students succeed in doing difficult things.” The clinicians and staff at Turn-About are always interested in finding ways for clients to discover confidence, develop success, and overcome difficulties that arise.
New babies on the Ranch add excitement and joy to daily life this time of year for the clients, but they also create difficulties to overcome. In the beginning of March, a mother sheep had twins and rejected one of the lambs. Clients were tasked with at first encouraging the mother to accept the baby, then bottle-feeding the lamb multiple times a day to keep it alive. “Through these daily, crucial tasks, students see the important role they play and that transfers to other areas they are dealing with individually in therapy,” explained a staff member. “It helps them see life and death in a very real way and the impact they have on those around them, for good or bad.”
Even after 31 years of residential treatment, the staff and therapists are just as excited for the new opportunities and experiences this spring will bring for the adolescents at Turn-About Ranch. Young added, “As I watched the kids save the lamb, I realized how blessed they are to have parents willing to go that extra mile for their own kids, and save them from the paths they were going down. One of the girls expressed that helping the lamb survive reminded her that she needed to accept the help everyone around her was offering, ‘just like the lamb needed to accept the bottle we offered it.’”
About Turn-About Ranch
Founded in 1989, Turn-About Ranch is licensed as a wilderness therapy program and residential treatment center by the State of Utah’s Health and Human Services. It is nationally accredited by CARF. Located in the heart of Southern Utah’s canyon country surrounded by multiple national parks like Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The admissions office is available for any questions at (800) 842-1165 between the hours of 8 am and 6 pm Mountain Standard Time.