How It Works

What does treatment look like? What is involved in the process? What can enrollees expect from RedCliff Recovery? What do attendees want from treatment? How do we provide the treatment?

In addition to the average length of stay of around 45-60 days and the family integration through weekly updates, narrative therapy and communication with parents what else can you expect while in the RedCliff Recovery program?

Each week, our clients receive individual, family, and group therapy, psychoeducational groups on numerous topics related to recovery, skill building, daily 12-step meetings, and aftercare planning.  Each of these things supports the client’s desire to get clean and sober and learn how to maintain it.  We use cognitive, client-centered, and experiential therapies to help clients.  Treatment is not limited to weekly individual, family, and group therapy sessions, but therapy and 12-step principles are applied in daily living in the group and supported by the wilderness instructors.

RedCliff Recovery also teaches clients primitive wilderness skills as a means of survival, which parallels relearning the basics in their own lives.  They also participate in weekly adventures through desert backpacking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and fishing.  Our clients find a connection with one another as well as with their wilderness instructors.  Through their participation in these shared, healthy physical and emotions experiences, they deepen their connections to a wholesome community and beneficial alternatives to using substances.

Since the 12-steps require belief in a higher Power, we also address spirituality with our clients.  We are aware that many people struggle with the idea of the concept of a Higher Power, so we help clients find what works for them.


A time to reflect, record your thoughts and communicate.

Through narrative family therapy, we conclude that there is not one universal reality to this story, but that each reality is constructed by one’s own social experience. The problem becomes apparent: the story does not fit with their lived experience. Another setting is needed, free from simply just re-writing the same chapter over and over with the same co-authors. A biography is not what is needed. Or even a re-write of the biography. A new, fresh, authoring of an autobiography is required.

Addressing family interactions differently than “traditional” family interventions are needed to increase the likelihood of treatment success in the wilderness setting.  At RedCliff Recovery, family therapy is paramount to the treatment process.  Women participate in unique interventions that allow for the re-authoring of the personal narratives by providing a new and different perspective on a problem-saturated narrative. Thus, individuals change their relationship to their life story and their family story (Morgan, 2000).

By adhering to the evidence-based treatment model of Narrative Family Therapy clients are able to:*

  • Externalize the problem(s) they are experiencing,
  • Deconstruct problem-saturated narratives through questioning,
  • Identifying unique times when they were not weighed down by their problem,
  • Link outcomes to the future and provide an alternative and preferred narrative, and
  • Invite members of their family to witness the new narrative.

*(Carr 1998; O’Conner et al. 1997)

Narrative therapy is used widely and in a variety of settings. So, what makes family therapy at RedCliff different?

  1. Research suggests that family therapy at RedCliff has stronger outcomes than many other similar interventions because of the unique application of Narrative Family Therapy. (citation)
  2. RedCliff has innovated family involvement in the narrative writing in the wilderness setting by making the individual family members an audience to each other and their personal narratives, rather than co-authors.
  3. By taking the audience approach family members who are distant, as they are often in wilderness programs, can still be involved in the process through being asked to reflect on stories that are being told (Freedman & Combs, 1996).