Anasazi Foundation Reviews, Cost, Complaints

Anasazi Foundation

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anasazi-foundationThe Basics

Located in Mesa, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix, Anasazi Foundation uses the great outdoors to rehabilitate both adolescents and adults. Created in 1988 by wilderness pioneers Larry Olsen and Ezekiel Sanchez, the “Anasazi method” of recovery is inspired by Native American tradition, using walks in the wilderness to promote a new way of walking through life. In addition, a highly trained clinical team supports clients during the therapeutic process.

Accommodations and Food

The Anasazi Foundation program is definitely alternative and not for the faint of heart. For 49 days, clients live in nature and hike and camp with modest supplies. The idea is that if they can handle living in nature’s unpredictable conditions, they can navigate the ups and downs of everyday life.

Clients learn to prepare their own meals, with food packs that are replenished on a weekly basis. In addition, they build their own shelter, learning reliance and independence. Although clients are encouraged to fend for themselves, they are never without caring staff members; asking for help is encouraged.

Treatment and Staff

Anasazi offers two options: the adolescent program for those between the ages of 12 and 17 and the adult program for those over 18. The groups are kept small, with a maximum of eight clients at a time, and a staff-to-client ratio of three-to-one. Both programs follow a similar structure, sending clients out into the wild for seven weeks.

The wilderness excursions are not meant to be punishment or boot camp; nothing is forced or harsh. The program begins with a learning period during which clients participate in basic skills such as cooking, personal hygiene, first aid and taking care of equipment. In addition, they learn how to make their own trail gear, which includes a primitive backpack, fire set and rabbit stick. In the second phase, clients put what they learned to use, while emotional issues can be processed with the therapists. During the final part of the journey, family members are invited on the trail for three days, allowing for a healthy reunion to occur before the hike is finished.

Over the course of this journey, clients also address substance abuse issues, medication and emotionsall of which have an impact on mood and way of living. Therapists use DBT and emotion-focused family therapy, talking with the clients on a daily basis. Instead of employing typical psychological terms, the program incorporates language from Native American tradition. By cooperating in a group setting, clients practice healthy relationships among peers; the need for structure, responsibility and accountability are also addressed.

When it comes to the spiritual aspect of recovery, the program allows clients to choose a Higher Power of their own.

Trained staff members are always with clients. Each person is assigned a “Shadow,” a counselor who works closely with the client throughout their journey. All Shadows have a Master’s-level degree or higher and work under the guidance of the program’s psychologists and clinical director. Parents check in with their child’s shadow every week.

The staff also include a family and marriage counselor, social workers, psychiatrists and registered nurses. All staff are trained in first aid and CPR and have taken the Wilderness First Responder course. Anasazi Foundation maintains agreements with a medical helicopter service and local hospital.

In Summary

Anasazi Foundation believes in the healing hands of Mother Nature. Through this alternative camping experience, clients can find both sobriety and peace of mind.

Anasazi Foundation
1424 South Stapley Dr
Mesa, AZ 85204

Anasazi Foundation Cost: $13,945 (49 days), scholarships available for those in need. Reach Anasazi Foundation by phone at (480) 892-7403. Find Anasazi Foundation on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube

Do you have a complaint or review of Anasazi Foundation to add? Use the comments area below to add your Anasazi Foundation review.

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15 Comments

  1. Scott and Cathy Bear on

    This program turned our daughter, from a drug addicted runaway (and all of the terrible places that takes one to), to the most trustworthy, honest, compassionate, responsible and morally driven young woman that we are priviledged to know. The work that Anasazi made myself and my wife do, challenged our long term beliefs, and changed our lives, as well. Words are inadequet, as we now view people and our place in the world, differently, than we ever knew was possible.Our now 25 year old daughter, manages our consturction company. She directs “construction guys” with confidence (not an easy task for a young woman) and has earned their respect.
    We kept in touch with several parents and found that the work that they did was directly proportional to their child’s success.
    Thank you, Anasazi, for showing, both us and our daughter, a better way to live.

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  13. Anasazi saved my life. It provided me with a quiet, peaceful, encouraging atmosphere to experience “Real” change. I trust this program completely.
    We are all unique & have different struggles, so I cannot speak to others time in the program… but I look back with love & laughter & respect.
    Young Walkers will be out of their comfort zone, will be encouraged to carry on when they want to quit… they will go through hard things… but the world is a hard place… so I believe Anasazi gives them some extremely important tools to survive it.
    We were never without food or water (for very long)… noone starved or got dehydrated… they taught us to survive & persevere, no matter what. This is a valuable tool to cultivate.
    Anasazi is not a cushy, comfortable dormroom with an open cafeteria. Walkers will be entirely out of their comfort zone… which can bring about soul wrenching change if they lean-in, instead of pushing back.
    I have seen a few negative reviews here & do my best to remember that we all have our individual path to walk… no two paths are the same.
    The majority of us had positive experiences in Anasazi…. & the hard times made for some great stories! I recommend this program completely.

  14. Colleen & John Low on

    The Anasazi program was such a blessing to our family. Anasazi helped our family navigate through a very tough time. We are ever appreciative of the Anasazi staff that helped save our son. The program helped us as parents understand and realize that we could change and provide a better setting at home to raise our children and allow them to reach their full potential. It helped our son come to know himself and his see the seeds of greatness in himself.

    Our son had been to military school in CA, a year in a residential treatment program in NM and TX before coming to Anasazi in 2010.

    Our son didn’t want to be there when he arrived and he took off running from the Anasazi program. The staff let us know that he ran and they tracked him and helped him decide to participate in this exceptional program.

    We fully participated in the program, our son as a young walker and my wife and I took advantage of all the parent program offerings. This included weekly conference calls during and after the program, weekly calls with the Shadow, the first weekend “The Choice and Parenting” training and the “Dawn Star Walking” program (three days on the trail) with our son.

    Years later, our son was speaking at an event about his time in rehab and at Anasazi. He thanked us for saving his life. He admitted that he would have been probably been dead if we hadn’t sent him away to get help. He is still in contact with some of his Trail Walkers and other Young Walkers. He has chosen to live productive life. Our relationship has improved as we have built on the relationship foundation we put in place through our experiences with Anasazi. We looked for programs that focused on solutions that would help our son realize his worth and Anasazi fit.

    This program gives youth, parents and the family guidance and a framework to help them heal and move forward with life. We used the information we learned after we completed the program to build our relationships with each other and strengthen our family. Programs like Anasazi are on the front lines of rehabilitation helping people set themselves up to succeed.

    We loved Anasazi and intend to setup a fundraiser to help others benefit from this program. We highly recommend Anasazi to families looking for help.

  15. In not being dramatic when I say this program saved my life. It took a very broken, sad, addicted young girl and helped her find her value, her strength, and taught her skills that when applied to everyday life can change your life. I now have teens of my own, and they are familiar with the same teachings I learned while in this program. It’s part of our family legacy, I still draw strength from what I learned then, and I share that strength by serving among youth organizations to give back. I was never abused, I was never neglected. Was it hard? Yes! It shook me to my core because it was so hard, it taught me to dig deep, to fight, and to celebrate my successes! Life is hard, and the trail is a perfect place to practice functional living before taking the newly found skills back to real life. I have recommended Anasazi too many families over the years, I would never hesitate to send my own kids. I wish they had a program for all youth! I could go on forever! Thank you for giving me back such a beautiful life!

  16. Our daughter was a young walker in 2011. We brought her to Anasazi as a last result because there was nothing else we as parents could do to help her. Simply put, Anasazi saved her life. In the years since, there were periods of time when she struggled because that is life for all of us. However, it is impossible to unknow what you finally know and Anasazi provided her with lifelong tools she uses daily to walk forward. The support for families at Anasazi is phenomenal. Patental participation is an integral part of the program. My husband and I went in with the
    idea that our daughter needed “fixed” and found that we needed help as well. The growth/change in our marriage and the improved relationships among all six of our family members was an unexpected result of the support we received at Anasazi. I can’t say enough about our experience!

  17. I went to Anasazi when I was a teenager, I am now in my 30s. I have communicated with many families that have recently sent their children there so I know that the program for the most part has not changed. The way it works is you are given a food pack every Monday that lasts you the whole week, it is pleanty of food and calories, but if you choose to not ration it correctly then it’s your own fault. I will say though that we had one girl that would go through her food in 3 days, they would make her go a day without, but would always provide her with something to provide the nutrition to hike to the next destination the next day. Water was always available, we were not allowed to hike during the middle of the day when it was too hot and were required to all be hydrated before starting our hike each day, this is determined by the difference in heart rate when sitting and standing. Was the program easy, NO!!! But there was never abuse of any kind, all our basic necessities were available, clean clothes were brought every Monday and exchanged for our dirty clothes to be laundered and then brought back the next week. We met with a counselor and nurse once a week. Many of the other kids complained to their parents and lied about what went on. I think this program is great if you have a child that is begining to go down the wrong path and needs a time out from life, I don’t however think that this program provides the support, life skills and therapy for kids that have already clearly gone down that path, drugs, running away, severe depression etc. I believe kids in real crisis need a more intense program that teaches how to deal with emotions, how to react to certain situations or triggers, drug treatment, etc. Anasazi is a more spitlritual program that allows for self reflection and healing, I don’t believe kids have the ability or knowledge to do this at that young age. So I guess what I’m saying is the program gets an A in my book for being a safe program that treats the kids great and always has their health and well being as their 1st priority. It gets a C for effectiveness as a treatment facility.

  18. manipulated into this being a good idea on

    Please do not send your children here! My child went and not once twice but four times she went without food and twice water. They say that They will support the parents, and they don’t. Every child that was with my daughter since coming home has either run away or gotten worse. I really wish I could say more here, but I am looking at a more formal complaint to file and I am looking for other parents who might want to join me. I don’t want to come across as Slandering the business so I’m delicate right now with my words. All I can say is, from my perspective, as a parent, I made a huge mistake sending my child here. If anyone would like more information, I am trying to find a way to reach other parents and I am exploring my options.

    • Mike Merchant on

      Thank you for your feedback. I am sorry to hear your daughter is struggling. We have a seven week Parent Shadowing program following discharge. If you were unable to participate in this program, please let me know and we will get you enrolled. I am also willing to talk with you personally about your concerns (mike.merchant@anasazi.org).

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  27. Our son completed the Anastasia program. We have seen a degradation of our sons problems from before he went. I would strongly recommend taking 1/4 of the money and finding a good family therapist, I would suggest you will have better results and ultimately a happy family. I do not believe they take care of the children as best they can rather passing any neglect off as natural consequences. It’s humiliating to listen to the founder constantly talk about his families experiences and watch him supposedly reunite with his son after “he walked the trail”. The founder repeatedly telling the parents that Anasazi is not for profit is only said to continue to build the appearance of a caring organization. I have been in communication with other families who feel that there money, time, and opportunity for real help was wasted.

    • I was looking into sending my 17 year old son to Anasazi. But, was concerned about lack of food available, and what type of counseling would be available. I do not believe any company feedback that is from their own website.

        • I can’t thank Anasazi enough for my family’s experience. It was positively life changing for all of us – me. my husband, all of my kids…I remember dropping my son off – he didn’t even look up to say goodbye, he just walked away from us – angry. When we reunited at family camp, after a long and tearful reunion hug, our son said to us with a big beautiful grin “THANK YOU, I really needed this and it wasn’t easy, but I loved it.” To this day (3 years later) he misses his time on the trail with the Trail Walkers and Young Walkers – he is hoping to become a Trail Walker when he is old enough!
          Sending our son the Anasazi was the single best parenting decision we have ever made. Our timing was good – we sent him early, when he was 14 and we felt things weren’t headed in the right direction. Other struggling parents, whose children are older. have said to us “I wish I had the wisdom and courage to send my younger child – little kids little problems, big kids bigger problems. My point is send them as soon as you can and without reservation!

          This program is like many things in life – you get out what you put in. The program offers amazing after care follow up, and that is also an important part of the program. – I cannot stress the importance of the family’s participation, – the young person is the one who goes to the actual wilderness, but caring adults at home (for kids who are lucky enough to have them) must participate fully for the program to be as good as it can be!

          Thank you Anasazi! I could go on and on…..

    • Mike Merchant on

      Thank you for your feedback. I am sorry to hear your son is struggling. If it would be helpful, we can have our parent coach contact you. I would be more than willing to talk with you personally about your concerns (mike.merchant@anasazi.org).

      • I can’t thank Anasazi enough for my family’s experience. It was positively life changing for all of us – me. my husband, all of my kids…I remember dropping my son off – he didn’t even look up to say goodbye, he just walked away from us – angry. When we reunited at family camp, after a long and tearful reunion hug, our son said to us with a big beautiful grin “THANK YOU, I really needed this and it wasn’t easy, but I loved it.” To this day (3 years later) he misses his time on the trail with the Trail Walkers and Young Walkers – he is hoping to become a Trail Walker when he is old enough!
        Sending our son the Anasazi was the single best parenting decision we have ever made. Our timing was good – we sent him early, when he was 14 and we felt things weren’t headed in the right direction. Other struggling parents, whose children are older. have said to us “I wish I had the wisdom and courage to send my younger child – little kids little problems, big kids bigger problems. My point is send them as soon as you can and without reservation!
        This program is like many things in life – you get out what you put in. The program offers amazing after care follow up, and that is also an important part of the program. – I cannot stress the importance of the family’s participation, – the young person is the one who goes to the actual wilderness, but caring adults at home (for kids who are lucky enough to have them) must participate fully for the program to be as good as it can be!
        Thank you Anasazi! I could go on and on…..

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