Elk River Treatment Program Reviews, Cost, Complaints

Elk River Treatment Program


Huntsville AlabamaElk River Review

In 2005, the Elk River Treatment Program (ERTP) was founded by a group of medical professionals as a co-ed residential treatment center, in Huntsville, Alabama. It offers specialized programs for troubled teens 12 to 18 dealing with behavioral and emotional issues, as well as drug rehab for teens struggling with addiction. It is accredited in Behavioral Health Care by The Joint Commission and its academic program is accredited by AdvancED/SACS. Clients do not fall behind in school while receiving care. This unique program insists that caregivers participate in the program’s family therapy component while their child is in treatment. ERTP provides a 12-step component to its overall holistic approach.

Accommodations and Food

Located on the 120-acre property are outdoor and indoor facilities that include a commercial kitchen, cafeteria/gym, fully equipped medical clinic with around-the-clock medical supervision, large school building with highly qualified and state certified teachers, horse barn, in-ground pool and cabins for advanced clients. The only electronics allowed are computers in school.

ERTP utilizes the outdoors as a therapeutic teaching tool. Boys and girls sleep separately in groups of six to eight in yurts that are heated and cooled. The yurts are constructed on wooden decks and are spaced so that an awake night staff can closely monitor for health and safety. All meals are planned by a dietitian and prepared by a former chef who has worked with at-risk teens for several years.

Treatment and Staff

Treatment at ERTP is heavily weighted on CBT but the program is not tied to one form of therapy. ERTP uses a therapeutic milieu or structured group setting in which members of the groups are expected to hold one another to following rules. More advanced residents are expected to model appropriate behavior for newer residents. If one violates the rules, others who were aware of the violation but did not intervene may also be responsible for the rule violation. Within the trusting therapeutic milieu of their group, patients often feel comfortable trying out new coping skills.

The length of treatment varies depending on the child’s issues and response to treatment. While in treatment with Elk River clients attend school for four hours a day, during weekdays. The remainder of the time and weekends are spent taking part in different therapies. Group and individual therapy, vocational training and equine-assisted learning as well as physical fitness classes are offered every day. Specialized group sessions available cover trauma, grief, abandonment, adoption and attachment issues, anger and defiance, co-occurring disorders like anxiety, ADD, ADHD and ASD, depression and bipolar disorder, as well as divorce and family issues and more which clients attend according to their individualized treatment plan. The treatment team meets often to re-evaluate clients’ progress while weekly updates and parent coaching are facilitated by clients’ primary therapist.

ERTP also offers on-site AA meetings and parenting workshops. ERTP staff includes licensed mental health professionals and support staff with Bachelor’s and Master’s level degrees in social services. Psychiatric care and medication management are coordinated by a child, adolescent and forensic psychiatrist while physicians and nurses provide any necessary medical care, 24/7.

In Summary

ERTP provides evidenced-based treatment with the disciplined, highly structured and respectful environment necessary for life-changing discoveries to occur. The program uses the Counseling Stages of Change, motivational enhancement therapy and engagement strategies to provide a directive, person-centered approach to therapy that focuses on improving our clients’ motivation to change—leading to long-term positive outcomes.

Elk River Treatment Program Location

Elk River Treatment Program is a program of Pinnacle Behavioral Health, Inc. located at:

4812 Commercial Drive NW
Huntsville, AL 35816

Elk River Treatment Program Cost

ERTP is a private program that accepts private pay and private insurance.

Reach Elk River Treatment Program by phone at (256) 518-9998 or by email at [email protected]. Find Elk River Treatment Program on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn

Do you have a complaint or review of Elk River Treatment Program? Use the comments area below to add your review for Elk River Treatment Program.



  1. Cole Clasby on

    You all also missed the part about being placed on “primitive” punishment. Wherein you were forced to forego any indoor schooling, and made to sit on a hill in direct elements while being given only raw meat and flint and steel. You had to start a fire with flint and steel in order to cook your food, at night you had to build your own shelter in order to have cover from the elements. You sleep outside in teepees with round the clock surveillance. “School” is only about three hours, the rest of the day from 11 AM to 7 PM is work detail. When the “counselors” are bored and there is no work left, you enjoy forced marches with logs, four men to a log, on the shoulders, through the hills of the property. I went through the entire three and a half months with a broken hand and wrist. I only saw a doctor once. At the end of your second month you are driven across state lines and force marched on the Appalachian trail for 2 weeks. With rice, beans, and a sleeping bag bought at Walmart, along with a holy tent. You are provided three pairs of clothes. One pair of shorts, two rustler brand jeans from Walmart as well, and one mild rain coat. This was in December. In order to be delivered to the facility I was given a high dose of Xanax and driven out of a state where at the time I was of legal age of consent to make my own decisions. Upon arriving I was so drugged that I laid on a gym floor with a blanket in plain view of the others for two days without being checked by a physician or having any vitals taken. Mr. Wolfe, as he is so aptly named, is a man with a serious dislike of people and society, and treats you as such. Matt, is only in it to be around the young men, and a paycheck. I am twenty eight years old now, with quite a nice life. However, that place still haunts me.

  2. As another former resident I would have to say that the majority of what I just read was an out right lie. I am now a graduate of Samford University with a degree in law, politics, and society and a minor in business. I am not some bitter drug addict that just finished the Elk River program. Elk River is a bootcamp, no way around that. There is no swimming, no one on one therapy, you don’t play basketball, no peaceful gardening, or casual hiking. You do manual labor all day except for the 4 hours you are in “school.” Moreover, there is no casual hiking. You are forced to do 9 mile (I think this is the mileage it’s been a long time) perimeter hikes, (you have to run the entire thing most of the time, with you army pack on your back) If you send your child here there is a good chance he/she will come back with even more issues. Elk River is a terrible place. I could literally write a book about the terrible unethical things that happen inside Elk River, seriously, I’ve been told to write a book many times. Oh and there are no fitness classes “offered” you do physical training military style at 6:00 a.m. and it is miserable. The bad seriously outweighs any good this program does to some kids. I gauruntee you that there are many kids who go through that program (me) that did not get an ounce of good out of Elk River. I kept my head down and followed the rules to get home as soon as possible and all the staff said I was a good kid, but it was still terrible.

    P.S. your kids will write letters to you; however, if they try to tell you what is going on in Elk River, the staff will flag is as “manipulation” and give you the option to still send it but with punishment or to not send it and just get a verbal warning. My parents still cry and apologize years later for sending me, they said they had no idea what was happening in there. So this is for any parents that have no way of knowing what is happening to your children in there, please just send your kids to rehab or get involved in a lot of good counseling, there are better answers than Elk River.

  3. I also am a former resident. Often at time i felt like they were holding me there just to draw money from the insurance company. beacause i was court ordered me and my family had no say so on when i could go home. i was there for 6 months didn’t even really do anything bad i just would talk when i wasn’t supposed to and i hated journaling. i spent 6 months and then got discharged at phase 2 halfway through the program because my mom refused to allow them to give me medication. i hated the place. best thing ab it was losing weight and learning how to not destroy stuff when i get mad that’s all i learned. elk river is a solid 5/10 on a scale. you have to raise your fingers to speak at all times. like wth.

  4. As a former resident, this article severely euphemizes the Elk River experience. “Offered” physical fitness classes were indeed mandatory and often forced, particularly in the morning, and I may have seen the horses 3 times during my entire 7 month stay, let alone partake in “equine therapy”. I personally was able to avoid being assaulted, but I grew to passively observe kids my age (13 at the time) be tackled to the ground by grown men.

    While Elk River was certainly grounded in good nature, the bad eggs of employees as well as the severely rigorous and unforgiving routine may have done more harm than good for many who went there. I would not recommend this treatment program unless your child is severely at risk.

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