Parents are vital to our program and to the future success of our students. Research indicates that therapeutic programs that maximize parental involvement have better long-term success. The positive life skills students have learned in the program are more generalizable to their family and school functioning if parents were involved in their treatment. Cherry Gulch allows more and quicker contact with parents than most residential programs. Parents are taught the same program that defines our milieu so that when the student returns home a successful program is already in place that both parent and child understands. Our staff provides parents with weekly updates regarding their child’s progress. When therapeutically indicated family therapy sessions will be conducted via video conferencing.
Parents are encouraged to call their son, write to him, and to visit him at the program. When parents visit Cherry Gulch they have the option of camping out with their son in one of our tepees or covered wagons. Parents are required to attend a three-day parenting workshop once each quarter. The workshop provides parent training, strategies, support, and help with setting up the positive parenting plan their son’s are participating in at the school back home. Parenting workshops also include bonding exercises for parents and sons, family therapy sessions, corrective emotional experiences, and opportunities for building positive memories. The final day of the workshop includes a special event that students have prepared for their parents. It may be a trail ride, a youth rodeo, a play put on by the students, a camp out, a whitewater rafting trip, or any number of other activities. Parental support does not end when students leave the program as we have staff available to provide support, answer questions, and identify resources, even after students return home.