Lone Star Expeditions, a therapeutic wilderness program for troubled teens ages 13 to 17, is narrowing its clinical focus to students with less acute psychological and emotional needs. As a result of this change, the program has been able to reduce its rate to $350 per day, ensuring that average-income families are not priced out of wilderness therapy.
"There is a huge segment of the population that needs, but cannot afford wilderness therapy," says Melvin Cates, MA, LCCA, WEMT, executive director of Lone Star Expeditions. "When we decided to make Lone Star a program for less acute adolescents who don't necessarily require the highest intensity intervention, we were excited to discover that we could offer lower prices to more families that need our services."
Going forward, Lone Star will continue to accept adolescents with major depressive disorders, oppositional defiance disorder, beginning signs of obsessive-compulsive disorder, and some attachment disorders, but will refer those with substance abuse or addiction issues or conduct or borderline personality disorders to more clinically intensive wilderness therapy programs.
The program will also continue to provide substance abuse and prevention groups for students who have begun experimenting with drugs or alcohol, but will no longer conduct 12-Step meetings or intensively address dual diagnosed substance abuse and mental health issues.
"By directing our efforts toward a more specific population of adolescents, we have also been able to cut prices even in the current economic climate, without compromising the quality and integrity of our services," explains Cates. "We still have a licensed marriage and family therapist directing our clinical program, a bilingual therapist, and other experts in the field. We still offer superior services using a well-rounded treatment model that has produced incredible results. But we are doing all of this in a more directed, efficient way."
Lone Star will continue using its "5-1-1 model," which combines into each week five days and nights in the national forest, one day at base camp, and one day on the second largest ropes challenge course in Texas. According to Cates, this model has proven effective in a short period of time, usually between 42-45 days, which also reduces overall enrollment costs.
As part of its re-focusing, Lone Star is making a number of small changes that will streamline its daily processes. The program will maintain its 2:7 field instructor to student ratio, but will increase group size from eight to 10 students. Rather than sending a therapist out into the field each week to meet with student groups, the therapists will meet with students at base camp and on the program's ropes course, decreasing wasted staff time and cutting fuel costs.
Instead of focusing on specific symptom identification and treatment, the staff at Lone Star will concentrate on helping students develop communication and decision-making skills, leadership abilities, and other life skills. According to Cates, another benefit of the shift in focus is that families won't have to worry about students who need a wake-up call living with and learning from teens with more severe diagnoses.
Since its recent shift in clinical focus, Lone Star has already admitted one family into the program that wouldn't have been able to access wilderness therapy without the price reduction.
"For the first time in our history, we are able to provide a wilderness program that we ourselves can afford," says Cates. "This shift has stirred a strong sense of pride here. Our hope is that one day we can open up these possibilities to every family, including those who never believed wilderness therapy would be an option for their child."
Lone Star Expeditions is a licensed wilderness treatment program located in Groveton, Texas, that treats students ages 13-17 who are experiencing emotional, behavioral, attention, or learning problems. Under the care of doctoral and master's level therapists who focus on assessment, intervention, and aftercare, students develop the confidence, coping skills, and communication strategies that are essential for healthy family relationships and success in daily life.
Lone Star Expeditions is a proud member of Aspen Education Group, the nation's largest and most comprehensive network of therapeutic schools and programs. Aspen Education Group offers professionals and families the opportunity to choose from a variety of therapeutic settings in order to best meet a student's unique academic and emotional needs. Aspen Education Group has been profiled by major news and television organizations around the world, including U.S. News and World Report, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today and People magazine, as well as on CNN, ABC's 20/20 and Good Morning America, NBC's The Today Show and Dateline NBC, National Public Radio, and the syndicated television show Dr. Phil.
Aspen is a division of CRC Health Group, the nation's largest chemical dependency and related behavioral health organization. For more information about Aspen Education Group, visit www.aspeneducation.com or call 888-972-7736. For more information about Lone Star Expeditions and the benefits of wilderness therapy, please call 866-573-2002 or visit www.lonestarexpeditions.com.