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 emotions—all 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.
Anasazi Foundation believes in the healing hands of Mother Nature. Through this alternative camping experience, clients can find both sobriety and peace of mind.
1424 South Stapley Dr
Mesa, AZ 85204
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