Program Description

Adolescent Program | Boys and Girls

WinGate is an owner-operated wilderness therapy program designed to assist troubled teens, both boys, and girls, ages 13 to 17. We specialize in working with boys and girls with dual diagnosis and believe strongly in a systemic approach. WinGate is licensed by the State of Utah as an Outdoor Therapeutic Program, and we are a member of the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP).

We serve troubled boys and troubled girls and their families by providing an individualized treatment approach...

WinGate is an owner-operated wilderness therapy program designed to assist troubled teens, both boys and girls, ages 13 to 17. We specialize in working with boys and girls with dual diagnosis, and believe strongly in a systemic approach. WinGate is licensed by the State of Utah as an Outdoor Therapeutic Program, and we are a member of the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP).

It’s normal and healthy for adolescents to seek new levels of independence and even to question those in authority. But teens struggling with behavioral or emotional problems can be particularly reactive to external direction and may pursue independence in unhealthy ways. Give a depressed or highly anxious teen a directive and they're likely to withdraw, retreat, or otherwise passively resist. Tell an angry or oppositional teen what to do and they're likely to explode. Troubled adolescents can be nearly impossible to control.

That's why we don't even try!

Instead, we provide adolescents with a profound—and unfamiliar— a sense of time, space, and safety in our magnificent wilderness setting. In this healing milieu, our clinical team uses an alliance-based treatment approach to patiently invite, instead of force engagement. Adolescents are experts at hooking adults into a power-struggle dynamic, but our clinical and field professionals are experts at turning that dynamic upside down!

Alliance-based therapy requires a well-coordinated, extensively trained, talented team of therapists and field staff. This approach to treatment is not easy, but it works. Alliance-based wilderness therapy results in powerful, therapeutic rapport between our adolescent clients and our therapeutic staff. Clinical research confirms what we know from years of success in working with troubled teens: strong therapeutic rapport is the single most reliable predictor of treatment success.

We roll with resistance instead of creating resistance

Resistance ruins the therapeutic opportunity. The wilderness experience is unique in the fact that it automatically creates a responsive, rather than a resistant, environment, which enhances the therapeutic intervention.

Rather than seek to modify a troubled teen's behavior, we are able to connect with our students through responsiveness, allowing our students to gain insight into how their behaviors manifest. This is how we are able to teach our students; we can aid in the development of skills for new, more effective choices and behaviors.

The goal of WinGate is to walk alongside a young person as they venture into change...

Why Wilderness Therapy?

Therapeutic treatment in the wilderness offers a stark difference from traditional settings. The opportunities for consistent observation and intervention are uninterrupted by the day to day distractions of traditional settings.

With no media, cell phones or trips into town, wilderness has a greater impact and a better chance for long-term change. A wilderness setting provides the epitome of experiential treatment, happening 24 hours per day, blended with traditional individual and group therapy sessions.

Therapeutic treatment in the wilderness offers a stark difference from traditional settings. The opportunities for consistent observation and intervention are uninterrupted by the day to day distractions of traditional settings. With no media, cell phones or trips into town, wilderness has a greater impact and a better chance for long term change. A wilderness setting provides the epitome of experiential treatment, happening 24 hours per day, blended with traditional individual and group therapy sessions.

Participants in wilderness treatment have a greater capacity for attention to the process, develop closer and stronger relationships with staff and peers and therefore, more quickly gain insight into previous unhealthy behavior and begin to make appropriate changes. This is further supported by overcoming the natural challenges encountered in the wilderness and the self-efficacy and esteem achieved in the process.

He let me just watch him carve the flute and I just copied what he did. We didn’t say a word but before long I had my own flute. Yeah, he was my therapist, but while we sat there carving he was just a person and I was just a person. That changed things. For once, I was the one to break the silence.” Read Margot’s Story...

Call (800) 560-1599 or Email Us now to discuss your adolescent’s situation and to see if WinGate’s alliance-based approach might be the answer.

Philosophy

The WinGate Philosophy for the Treatment of Troubled Teens

At WinGate, our philosophy in the effective treatment of troubled teens is to create an environment of responsiveness while reducing the resistance the troubled teen has toward change, authority, and himself or herself.

At WinGate, our philosophy in the effective treatment of troubled teens is to create an environment of responsiveness while reducing the resistance the troubled teen has toward change, authority, and himself or herself.

At WinGate, we believe in cooperation rather than confrontation. We have positive regard for every student and work hard to gain insights into each individual. Although certain rules must be followed in order to maintain safety and overall program effectiveness, we also honor and respect each student’s own path.

Our nurturing yet challenging environment allows students to grow, gain perspective, and attain a new level of maturity as we address their specific behavioral issues and problems. We hope to create a heart of peace which replaces the heart of war.

The WinGate Model: Strengths-Based - Natural Consequence Model

Through the Intermediate Health Care program, WinGate has developed a Strengths-Based/Natural Consequence Model which empowers teenagers in constructive ways. It helps them look beyond their negative behaviors and struggles to see who they really are.

Our students learn to get along with others and cooperate while working toward common goals. Positive natural consequences serve as rewards for positive actions; hence, teenagers become internally motivated to act in constructive ways.

Other programs often establish a set of strict rules, demand adherence to those rules, and then impose negative consequences when the demands aren't met. Basically, it's like boot camp.

WinGate Wilderness Therapy is designed to provide experiences which helps students motivate themselves rather than trying to force compliance and adherence to a set of rules...

We believe when students experience direct and natural consequences for their choices—positive as well as negative—they begin to act accordingly. By empowering teenagers with choice, they gain a sense of accomplishment, self-confidence, and self-esteem. They exercise their independence and act autonomously while complying to rules and guidelines at the same time.

This type of change (sense of accomplishment) can't be given to the kids; it must be experienced and earned. In the wilderness, we teach struggling kids to accomplish something they never dreamed they could. This type of experience resonates strongly, enhancing their self-worth and self-confidence; which is not something that can be accomplished in a traditional therapeutic residential setting. When kids in the wilderness conquer a hike, climb a long hill, or cook their own meal by starting their own bow drill fire... now that is a real accomplishment leading to long-lasting internal change.

Building Skills and Relationships

The WinGate staff build the foundation for strong therapeutic relationships by teaching students skills that are enjoyable as well as useful, such as whittling, beading, crafting and stitching leather, starting a fire, cooking, wilderness hiking, and setting up a proper camp in order to stay safe and dry.

After a few weeks of living in the wilderness together, students and staff experience a full range of emotions while building a strong sense of camaraderie within the group...

Through the Intermediate Health Care program, WinGate has developed a Strengths Based/Natural Consequence Model which empowers teenagers in constructive ways. It helps them look beyond their negative behaviors and struggles to see who they really are. Our students learn to get along with others and cooperate while working toward common goals. Positive natural consequences serve as rewards for positive actions; hence, teenagers become internally motivated to act in constructive ways.

Working side by side in a joint effort to reach common goals helps teens learn healthy patterns of communication that they can apply throughout the rest of their lives.

While a teen's idea of communication may have previously been restricted to halting acronyms and cryptic messages sent via modern technology. In other words, using Twitter to tweet a hundred of their closest friends.

At WinGate Wilderness Therapy, there are no cell phones, or computers, or video games. The environment is naturally conducive to personal, human-to-human communication. Teens actually talk with other teens openly and honestly while hiking, setting up camp, "busting" a fire, preparing meals and developing skills.

Our students are encouraged to open up even more during group therapy led by the same professional therapist they've been learning to trust during individual therapy. It is also the same therapist that has been talking with their parents every week as part of the process that helps reunite families in healthy and positive ways.

Why Wilderness

Why Wilderness Therapy for Troubled Teens?

Therapeutic treatment in the wilderness offers a stark difference from traditional settings. The opportunities for consistent observation and intervention are uninterrupted by the day to day distractions of traditional settings.

A wilderness setting provides the epitome of experiential treatment, happening 24 hours per day, blended with traditional individual and group therapy sessions.

Therapeutic treatment in the wilderness offers a stark difference from traditional settings. The opportunities for consistent observation and intervention are uninterrupted by the day to day distractions of traditional settings. A wilderness setting provides the epitome of experiential treatment, happening 24 hours per day, blended with traditional individual and group therapy sessions.

Participants in wilderness treatment have a greater capacity for attention to the process, develop closer and stronger relationships with staff and peers, and therefore more quickly gain insight into previous unhealthy behavior and begin to make appropriate changes. This is further supported by overcoming the natural challenges encountered in the wilderness and the self- efficacy and esteem achieved in the process.

With no media, cell phones or trips into town, wilderness has a greater impact and a greater chance for long-term change...

At WinGate, we believe that wilderness therapy is an effective form of treatment because it combines established therapeutic practices with a wilderness environment that is itself healing. In fact, there are certain aspects of wilderness that act as treatment effect multipliers.

Treatment effect multipliers are certain factors, identified from psychology and counseling research, which magnify the effectiveness of conventional therapy. This means that treatment conducted in a wilderness setting can be more potent than treatment in indoor settings.

Wilderness therapy often works for clients who haven't had success with other treatments, works for issues that traditional therapies don't typically help and creates change more rapidly than conventional treatment.

It helps the most resistant teens become open to treatment, helps those struggling with denial about their substance use become aware of their addiction and willing to change, and helps those struggling with depression and anxiety to find lasting contentment and serenity.

Call WinGate Wilderness Therapy today at (800) 560-1599.

Increased Attention through Wilderness Therapy

Studies have shown that more natural environments result in a higher capacity for paying attention. This means that nature and wilderness reduce symptoms of ADHD and improves attention for those not struggling with ADHD. This increased attention provides an opportunity for therapy to be more effective.

Studies have shown that more natural environments result in a higher capacity for paying attention. This means that nature and wilderness reduces symptoms of ADHD and improves attention for those not struggling with ADHD. This increased attention provides an opportunity for therapy to be more effective.

Any type of therapy relies on clients to be able to pay attention to the therapist, and many involve techniques to practice outside of the one-on-one session. In a natural environment, troubled teens are less distracted and more able to focus on therapy. This has direct results and improves the effectiveness of treatment.

Guided by the Arbinger principles of The Choice, our staff join with the teen to help them identify and change those parts of their lives that aren't working for them. Without the distraction of a levels system and with a focus on building positive relationships with our clients, WinGate does a better job of utilizing the attention-building aspects of nature than most other programs.

Several research studies have shown the benefit of wilderness therapy for a variety of issues, including substance abuse/addictions, depression, anxiety, AD(H)D, personality disorders, and motivation issues...

Stronger Relationships through Adventure Therapy

When troubled teens leave their home and their social circle and go out in the wilderness, they have an innate desire to form friendships and seek mentors in the people they find. Relationships within the group form strongly and quickly as group members share the tasks of daily living in the wilderness. Because of this shared living experience, there is a unique opportunity for staff to form a closer helping relationship with clients.

Therapists also end up forming stronger relationships with clients in the wilderness at a faster pace than in conventional inpatient settings. With a stronger therapeutic relationship as a foundation, the treatment process moves faster, and the therapist is better able to build trust.

These stronger relationships help decrease resistance to the therapeutic process. WinGate focuses on having staff develop a mentorship relationship with adolescents by helping them learn primitive skills. The absence of defined punishment/reward systems, levels, or aggressive confrontation as parts of our program set us apart in our ability to form positive relationships with our clients. This capitalizes on the potential for stronger relationships and helps win over even the most resistant troubled teen.

Call WinGate Wilderness Therapy today at (800) 560-1599.

Self-Efficacy through Outdoor Therapy

Wilderness therapy also builds self-efficacy. Through individual and group task accomplishment, troubled teens learn that they are not victims of life but active participants in the choices and future they create. From finally learning how to make a fire to finishing a hike they never thought they could, the young teen client grows in the belief that she can change, learn, and grow.

This translates to therapy, as once our clients have realized what they need to change, their increased self-efficacy as a result of the wilderness experience allows them to truly step up and put those changes into action. Many therapists also assign some kind of "homework" between sessions. An increased sense of self-efficacy makes it that much more likely that the teen will take, practice and complete that therapy assignment.

WinGate enhances the building of self-efficacy by truly helping our clients learn life skills. Every meal at WinGate is prepared by the student themselves, and in learning to feed themselves they are building self-efficacy in a real and tangible way that no rock-wall climbing could ever match.

Self-efficacy is key to creating a self-reinforcing upward spiral of change and growth, and the increased self-efficacy as a result of the wilderness process ensures that this process will happen in a relatively short period of time...

Call WinGate Wilderness Therapy today at (800) 560-1599.

Therapeutic Program teaches New Philosophy/Way of Living

Every therapeutic treatment program tries to teach clients a new philosophy or way of living. For inpatient programs, they create a structure that encourages the clients to live a certain way. In short, a new philosophy or way of living is not a unique component of wilderness therapy. However, wilderness programs can teach one of several different ways of life.

Wilderness therapy also builds self-efficacy. Through individual and group task accomplishment, troubled teens learn that they are not victims of life but active participants in the choices and future they create. From finally learning how to make a fire to finishing a hike they never thought they could, the young teen client grows in the belief that she can change, learn, and grow.

If they have a levels system, they are attempting to teach students that if they behave in the right way, they will have much better consequences than if they behave in a wrong way. This sort of "behavior modification" sounds good in principle, but like most punishment/reward systems, the desired behavior fades away without consistent reinforcement.

Other programs, like WinGate, attempt to create a "heart change," or a desire within the young person to change themselves. Instead of tying the way of life in WinGate to just behaving correctly, we try to encourage troubled teens to want to do the right thing.

The core of the WinGate program is the Arbinger "Choice" philosophy, with which we attempt to teach our clients how to always see people (parents, teachers, siblings, etc.) as people, and not as objects. Instead of tacitly teaching troubled teens how to manipulate a system and act good, we try to help them shift away from viewing others as vehicles or obstacles to getting what they want. We also introduce our addicted clients to the 12 steps of AA which are themselves a new way of living.

WinGate is not unique in trying to teach a new way of living, but we do it well, we do it intentionally, and we do it in a way that creates less resistance. When clients adopt a new philosophy and way of living, it can magnify the effectiveness of any other therapeutic interventions and change their lives.

Taken together, these six treatment effect multipliers offer an explanation for how wilderness therapy can enhance normal therapy. Therapy in wilderness settings can be more productive in a shorter period of time as a result of these factors. While certainly, they are not comprehensive, these each and in combination can create a strong, life-changing experience in our teenage clients by magnifying the effectiveness of traditional therapy. Wilderness therapy is a way and a place to do traditional therapy that produces dramatic results.

Testimonials

WinGate Parent & Student Testimonials | Reviews

Ferris W. - Former Student

“Before I came to Wingate I was lost. I had no sense of identity, self-confidence or self-worth and treated myself and others with disrespect. I was very entitled and handled disappointment very poorly. I was dishonest with the people who love me and I was dishonest with myself. I knew that the way I was living would not lead to a long or fulfilling life, however, I had lost most of my will to live. I felt doomed and life seemed hopeless. I came to Wingate because I had tried more traditional treatment programs a few times and while I did learn from them I did not have the life-changing realizations that I needed in order to successfully get and stay sober. I also have always had a strong connection to nature and the wilderness proved to be the best therapist I could ever ask for.

When I came to Wingate I knew that it was my last opportunity to change my life and I saw wilderness therapy as the best option for lasting results. The best way for me to describe my experience at Wingate is humbling and empowering. I needed to be humbled, and i was very surprised when I found out that the world doesn’t revolve around me. While this was hard for me because I was used to having things go my way, it also empowered me. I learned what I was capable of only when others held boundaries and stopped giving into my unreasonable requests. The staff at Wingate was able to do this for me and I am forever grateful to them.

When I was at Wingate I was able to work through many of my problems with the support of my peers, the staff and most importantly the wilderness. Nature acted like a giant mirror to me, making it too difficult to ignore the aspects of myself that I needed to change in order to be healthy in mind, body and spirit. Since leaving Wingate my life is more amazing than I could have ever dreamed. I have stayed sober and due to that, I have amazing opportunities in my life. I am in school and absolutely love to learn (never thought I would say that!). I have managed to take the lessons of gratitude and respect that I learned at Wingate and live my life by them.

The biggest change I see in myself is my newfound confidence and self-worth. I know that I am capable of great things and therefore have achieved so much in my time since I left Wingate. I am a genuinely happy person now and I would have never been able to get to this point in my life without the help of Wingate. I wanted to come back to work for Wingate because the program saved my life. I felt the need to help others as I was helped. I am a very firm believer in the power of wilderness therapy. It did not only save my life but many others and I wanted to be a part of that by sharing my experiences with those who need a life-changing experience.”

2015 WinGate Student

"My daughter’s experience with you guys is still a solid and positive memory for her. It has definitely become a defining component of her being. She is forever 'wilderness'; I can't recall any recent conversation that doesn't somehow seem to include a reference to the Wingate experience. I'm not sure how many kids you're able to follow up on but I'd tend to believe that you have the same impact on quite a few. I'm openly jealous of the job satisfaction you are able to obtain."

2015 WinGate Student

"Just to let you know, [my son] exited out of high school after returning home from Wingate. He then did 2 years of community college and 2 years at UCLA to receive a BS in chemistry when he was 20. He is now 22 and working on Ph.D. in physics at USC. He was not happy about going to Utah, but I think it put him on a better path."

Robert A. - Former WinGate Student

“Before I came to Wingate I had a horrible relationship with my parents, I was a regular hard drug user, homeless and my life was completely unmanageable. I was in trouble with the law; my drug usage was harming me physically. I wasn’t connected and felt like I no longer had a soul. I came to Wingate because I had nowhere else to go but down and I could not handle life my way any longer. I was beginning to develop heart problems and realized that if I did not get help soon I would die or go to prison. I wanted to get better.

While at Wingate I struggled a lot but I gained a set of tools to cope with my problems and gained hope that I have never had before. I started to love myself again and build healthy relationships, some of which I still keep today. I gained an appreciation for the outdoors and most importantly, reconnected with my higher power. Since leaving Wingate I attended an aftercare program that really helped me strengthen the skills I acquired at Wingate and then some. I have lived on my own and continued to work a strong program. I wanted to come back and work for Wingate because I have so much gratitude for this program and want to share with other troubled teens what I was so freely given here.”

Felicia G. - Former WinGate Student

“Before I came to Wingate, my priorities were out of line. My relationship with my family had deteriorated and the only thing I really cared about was getting high in order to relieve the constant guilt and depression I was experiencing. I had tried treatment before, in a short-term residential program. In that environment, with other unwilling kids like myself, I was unable to have lasting sobriety. I came to Wingate because after rehab I continued to use drugs and alcohol so I could cope with the issues I still had.

Rehab taught me about addiction but had done little for me in regards to the reasons why I was using. I struggled with low self-esteem, hopelessness, depression, anxiety, and promiscuity. I constantly lied and manipulated my parents. They had tried to help me, but I always found a way to resist their attempts and get what I wanted – drugs. The secure, non-coercive atmosphere at Wingate influenced my willingness to look at myself and become open to the idea of change. I began to understand the reasons behind my using and core issues fueling my addiction. I was presented with physical and mental challenges that helped me rebuild my confidence be it through hiking, learning to bust a coal, therapy assignments or groups.

My parents and I improved our relationships through letters in which we took accountability for the past and planned how we would change our behavior in the future. I discovered my love for nature and the outdoors. I gained a newfound appreciation for the simple life and gratefulness for the extraneous things in life I was fortunate enough to have. Lastly, I healed myself physically through rigorous daily activity and healthy, homemade food that I prepared for myself each day. Since leaving Wingate I have felt prepared to face life’s adversities using the tools I acquired on my journey. I have learned a new way of being that I choose to act in accordance with every day.

I choose to be happy and live my life to the fullest each day by following my senses and listening to my heart. I feel confident in myself that I have the strength to make the right decisions with my best, long-term interest in mind. I am in control of my own destiny, well being and way of being. I had the sense to return to Wingate to work. Wingate was the most life changing experience I have had and I truly believe that it saved me from the dark and dangerous path I was headed on. I felt it necessary to give back, I wanted to share all that I have learned and that I have to offer those still struggling so they may too know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”

2010 WinGate Student

Dear WinGate I would like to thank you. The program ya’ll have is simply amazing. I can only speak for myself, but I believe that your program has healed some of my heart. I know that I did the work, and changed myself, but it is the environment I was in that changed me. I am so very thankful that you guys provided this place for me. Your staff, I cannot explain how sweet yet though they are on us. Tough love. They know when and where not to use it. I am truly grateful for every single person in the program. I am not sure where I would be without WinGate. There is something that I can’t explain how magnificent of a place it is there.

I think about Moenkopi and WinGate so much. What the staff is doing, who’s new, how the weather is. It became my home for a few months, but it taught me so many incredible and valuable things in life. I hope to come back and work there someday, give back what I was given. The second part to this letter is informing ya’ll on how I am doing. Currently, I am doing fantastic. I am going for level three, and things are just really going great for me. I just got back from Ashland, for a school field trip. I got to go see two Shakespeare plays – it was awesome. School is going really well also, getting my credits knocked out. I have also been busting coals! haha. My transition was hard, but it is all good now. I am also grubbin on my food! Thank you so much, WinGate, and especially Rachael Schneider. I could not explain how much I am grateful for! Love always.

Sandra’s Experience

The wilderness was a foreign place to me and I often felt out of place. Shayne was someone who helped me find my place in the outdoors. He taught me how to cross a creek and hop from rock to rock. And he was there when I slipped and fell to help me back up again. I fired my first piece of pottery under his watchful eye. He taught me to hike in the dark with a smile on my face. I remember hiking down a dry creek bed during a staff training in early September under the unrelenting desert sun. We had hiked all day and just wanted to find water.

Finally, Shayne stopped underneath the shade of a large cottonwood tree and told us to find a comfortable rock. We weren’t sure what to expect. But we all trusted Shayne and each found a rock to lean against. With his ever-present smile, Shayne told us that now was the best time of day to take a nap! I thought for sure he was kidding. Shayne NEVER slept. He was the guy with boundless energy. But sure enough, he laid down and closed his eyes and fell promptly asleep. We all did the same.

A short while later, Shayne woke us up by singing. With a grin, he told us nap time was over and we needed to get moving. Shayne had this ability to make the most every moment a teaching moment. He saw the world as this living breathing phenomenon just waiting to be explored and discovered. He invited me to see the world the same. But what I appreciated most about Shayne is he helped me believe the impossible about myself and consequently those I walked the trail with. - Sandra Priedeman -

Parent Experiences

Kent and Maggie

“Thanks so much for all you and the staff at Wingate have done. I really feel that Kevin is now in a different place and will be able to move forward toward a brighter future.” Our best to you, Kent and Maggie

Elysia’s Mom

Dear Brad, “I’ve been meaning to send this, but haven’t found the time, or emotional energy, to actually sit down and express these things until now. You may recall our initial conversation about our considering Wingate Therapy as the Wilderness Program to help our daughter, Elysia, and the family. There were several things during that conversation that “sealed the deal” for me, and I even told you that you could “stop right there” as you had begun describing the ways in which Wingate and your philosophies and approach are different than other programs that were likely suggested and available to us.

The first, and most glaringly different “thing” for me that morning was the very first words out of your mouth. You asked me how I was doing and expressed that you understood how very difficult a time the family must have been having and how hard it is to come to the decision we had and follow through with it, in contacting Wingate. The other two things that struck me, and particularly because I had already spoken with the Admissions Director with the other company offered to us, was that you never asked me who else we were “looking at,” nor did you discuss or launch into attempting to “sell” Wingate in a marketing sort of way, which seems to always include a willingness to negotiate fees, etc.

BECAUSE I felt an immediate “vibration,” if you will, that you were absolutely concerned for my child, for me, and the family as a whole, in becoming healthy and happy and on the “right” track again, first and foremost, You alleviated whatever questions or concerns or conflicts I might have had in making our decision. Thank you very much for being the man you are, and in the position, you hold at Wingate. You are an integral and extremely important part of the process for the families, as much as you are for Wingate Therapy. I hope that everything with this new, vital, and a very important program will continue, and thrive, and make it through these extremely difficult economic and emotional times we are facing in the country as a whole.” Yours, Elysia’s Mom

Mary

To the people at WinGate: Words cannot express both my son’s and my entire family’s gratitude for the incredible care provided my son while a participant in your amazing program. As with so many families, we were desperate and had exhausted all available avenues to help our son. We reluctantly sent him to Wingate on August 23rd, trusting complete strangers to keep our son safe when we were unable to do so. Starting with the incredible work of escort Dana and Brady, and ending with Scott Hess, we were treated with absolute professionalism and compassion. While we cannot begin to know how other programs would have impacted Connor, we can state with absolute certainty Wingate was top notch.

Our son was able to revert back to his old self, pre-drug use. We credit Scott Hess and so many of the field instructors with this incredible feat. Scott was the consummate professional with the rare and beautiful quality of evidencing compassion and understanding despite the often difficult mood swings of our son. He was able to see through his defenses and help him break down his walls for improved insight and help him develop a true desire to make lasting changes. Connor returned home positive, even-keeled, and so incredibly mature. Angry mood swings, profanity, selfish behavior, and anxiety have all but disappeared.

He relates to family members with a mature and empathetic attitude. Unfortunately, our initial aftercare plans have changed, but we are optimistic Connor is well on his way to true wellness and sobriety thanks largely to your staff. My son made a true and rare therapeutic connection with Scott as did I. Scott’s work exceeded our expectations in all areas. My true goal was to get my son sober. Never did I realize or expect that Connor would make a deeper connection and healing in so short a period of time. Scott was always the consummate professional and cannot sing his praises enough. I credit him for truly saving my son’s life as it was very much spinning quickly out of control. Scott took the time, often hour’s long therapy sessions, to make a profound, and lasting impact on Connor.

He made individualized reading recommendations that Connor would not have read otherwise. Connor evidences a desire to read more of Scott’s recommended resources. Scott made himself available to me as well. He always encouraged me and supported me throughout the entire process and several times since returning home. His open-door policy eased my anxieties and helped me see just how truly dedicated he was in helping our family. My son, who has been in therapy with several different professionals now, declared he has never been so changed and assisted by a therapist. I could not agree more.

Upon returning home, Connor has readily discussed with his friends and family how incredibly positive his wilderness experiences have been, even stating he missed the desert. He has changed the way he eats, as well. He actually misses his food packs and has gone shopping for some of the items that he used while in the wilderness. Sadly, we must end our therapeutic sessions with Scott and the Wingate staff but their hard work will forever have a profound and lasting effect on our family. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all you have done, knowing our mere words will never truly relay our innermost feelings of gratitude. With sincere thanks, Mary

Kimberly and John

WinGate wilderness therapy program has turned out to be one of the best decisions of our parental lives! Our 14-year-old son was on a downward spiral of failing grades, early drug experimentation, and poor friendship choices; all of which contributed to a very tense and combative home life. As parents, we felt profoundly hopeless and helpless but then came Wingate.

With the dedicated attention from our son’s therapist, supportive and down to earth trail counselors, and the core concepts taught in the Choices seminar, we, both individually, as well as a family unit, have learned a greater understanding of our relationship behaviors. We now have the knowledge to affect positive communication, personal responsibility, and change. Whenever the opportunity arises, we give praise to the Wingate program, and pass on the story of our family’s success, and our renewed hope for a bright future for our son! Forever Grateful Parents, Kimberley & John

Jen

Dear Wingate Crew- Finally, I have a quiet moment to thank you profusely for the amazing program you are providing for so many of us who have been at a point of tossing in the towel. My gratitude is beyond words for each of you who played a specific role in opening your hearts and souls to all, specifically my son. He has continued to flourish personally and emotionally, and exhibits positive choice and decision making! The school we chose for him continues to impress me with their approach of embracing and helping their students.

Certainly, my son sees this opportunity as a gift to enhance his future (as he did while in your program)! I’ve been told by several administrative staff that “he has taken the school by storm,” and everyone loves his positive attitude, outlook, and encouragement! I can’t thank you all enough! Scott- you were the one of the few who was willing to go the distance to provide a ‘space’ of safety to allow the process to flow and happen! You are the most fantastic human being and counselor! Thank you for your dedication and passion to be present for a positive change. I wish you all well and a happy holiday season! Sincerely and gratefully, Jen

Adolescent Student Profile

Troubled Boys and Troubled Girls

Troubled youth still living at home seek independence even though they don't always know how to achieve it in constructive and healthy ways. Enforcing boundaries can become next to impossible for parents of troubled teens.

Some parents try, relentlessly, to regain some sense of control over their teenager who is becoming ever-increasingly out of control. Lecturing—"do as I say, not as I do"—fails miserably. Anger creates anger in response. Pleading, cajoling or bribing only seem to make matters worse. The overall and inevitable outcomes of such confrontations are hostility, tension, and more defiance.

The typical WinGate student is a good kid from a good home, and unfortunately, they are off track and heading in the wrong direction. Furthermore, there are some clear behaviors that have led you, the parent, to seek professional help. This behaviors and issues are listed below.

The Typical WinGate Student Profile

  • Substance Abuse/Addiction
  • Personality Disorders
  • Self –Esteem
  • Oppositional Defiance
  • Failure to Launch
  • School Problems
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • ADD/ADHD
  • Identity issues
  • Sexuality issues
  • Learning Differences
  • Bi-Polar
  • Social Skills
  • Relationship issues
  • Adoption/Attachment
  • Grief and loss
  • Family problems
  • Entitlement
  • Anger
  • Mild Eating Disorders
  • Process Addictions

The Outcome - The New Person

At WinGate Wilderness Therapy, students gain the ability to achieve desired outcomes in healthy ways, learn from their mistakes, and understand the natural consequences of their behavior—both positive and negative.

In a surprisingly short amount of time, they begin to understand how their past behaviors and attitudes have held them back. This, in turn, provides the motivation needed to get them moving forward in their own personal process and continue in the right direction long after they've graduated from our program.