Therapies Offered at Cherry Gulch


At Cherry Gulch, we are committed to giving the highest level of therapy to our students and strive to accomplish this through following a relationship model of care. Our team of highly and diversely trained therapists ensures that we have the right match for every student. We believe in building strong and trusting relationships with our students and know that one of the best ways to make that happen is through experiential learning together. Whether it’s volunteering in the community, enjoying the beauty and adventure that the Boise area has to offer, or going on international trips together, we get to know each one of our students on a very real and personal level and create opportunities for real time interventions as we adventure and engage in activities side by side.


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Psychology is a two hour psycho-educational group that is held once per week. Topics covered include: Substance Abuse Prevention, Anger Management, Self-Esteem, Social Skills Training, Coping Skills Training, and Adoption Issues.

Community Resiliency Model, CRM

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The Community Resiliency Model® (CRM) is a wellness model. CRM®’s goal is to help to create “trauma-informed” and “resiliency-focused” communities that share a common understanding of the impact of trauma and chronic stress on the nervous system and how resiliency can be restored or increased using this skills-based approach.

At Cherry Gulch, we train our students, staff, and parents on The Community Resiliency Model®. It is also integrated into our character growth curriculum for students to receive ongoing reinforcement of their skills development. CRM® trains individuals to not only help themselves, but to help others within their wider social network. The primary focus of this skills-based, stabilization program is to re-set the natural balance of the nervous system.


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The Equine level overlay expands the boy’s horizons to the horse barn and beyond. Aside from general knowledge of barnyard chores and animal care, the Parelli Natural Horsemanship program has been adopted to guide us through levels of horse wisdom.

Cherry Gulch has a membership to Parelli’s Savvy Club, which enables us to use the Parelli level criteria to learn and sharpen skills of the 4 savvys of horsemanship: on-line, liberty, freestyle and finesse.

The boys will experience the Parelli games and tasks relating to them during some of the EAP therapy as well.

The equine level work overlay incorporates the Parelli 7 games, both on the ground and in the saddle. The Parelli Savvy Club information also teaches about ‘Horsenalities’ which helps people to understand the difference between confident dominance versus confident willingness, as well as unconfident flight or brace–versus yield and trust.

It can be a great learning curve when experiencing the needs of these different horsenalities and coming to understand how to build the strengths that come with each type of behavior.

Upon graduating as Trail Boss, the boys should be able to demonstrate skills in the Parelli level 1 and 2 ground play and riding. Our motivated students will be able to demonstrate many level 3 skills according to the Parelli self-assessment checklist criteria.

Parelli Natural Horsemanship is a trademark of PARELLI NATURAL HORSEMANSHIP, INC. which does not sponsor, authorize, or endorse this site.

Neurological Technology

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Neurological Technology

Cherry Gulch currently offers the following programs with the purpose of giving our students the additional resources that they need to be successful in our program and throughout their lives. These programs are not intended to be a replacement for face-to-face therapeutic intervention, but rather a tool to work alongside other aspects of the program.


Neurofeedback is a program that has also been called EEG Biofeedback. Neurofeedback is a direct training of brain function. We observe brain activity while the student is controlling a video game with his level of concentration and relaxation. The game is used to reward the brain for changing its own activity to more appropriate patterns. This program is designed to train the brain for self-regulation of arousal levels. Neurofeedback addresses problems of brain deregulation. Neurofeedback research has seen improvements in many areas including the anxiety-depression spectrum, attention deficits, behavior disorders, various sleep disorders, headaches and migraines, and emotional disturbances. You can find more information about Neurofeedback at

Play Attention

Play Attention was developed by a Master Educator whose techniques have been proven in over 450 school systems, thousands of homes, learning centers, hospitals, and psychologist’s offices, worldwide since 1996. Play Attention has been used for more years and by more people than virtually any attention training system or memory training system available. It has been featured in the national news media on Good Morning America, NBC News, Woman’s World, The Boston Globe, and many other national and international media ( A series of games are used to teach the student what it feels like to be fully focused for a long period of time. This is particularly helpful with ADD and ADHD, but is used by many people that don’t have a disorder and just want to increase concentration skills.


Cogmed Working Memory Training is a computer-based program designed to improve the working memory. Using a series of computer-based games and activities, the student exercises his working memory through challenging tasks involving number, letter, and light sequences. The Cogmed program tracks the student’s progress and gives a final margin of improvement after the program is completed.

Alpha Stem

Alpha Stem is a small machine with two small clips that are placed on each ear lobe. Tiny electric currents are sent through these clips that are similar to those found naturally in the body, using a method called Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES). The tiny electric currents that are sent through the ear lobes are designed to regulate the electrical activity of the brain resulting in relief from stress, anxiety, insomnia, and depression.

Occupational Therapy

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What Is Occupational Therapy?

In its simplest terms, occupational therapists help people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities (occupations). Common occupational therapy interventions include helping children with varying abilities to participate fully in school, play activities, and social situations. With the help of occupational therapy, students can learn to master day-to-day skills and be engaged at school and at home. Occupational therapy services typically include an individualized evaluation, during which the student/family and occupational therapist determine the person’s goals, customized intervention to improve the student’s ability to perform daily activities and reach the goals, and outcomes evaluation to ensure that the goals are being met and/or make changes to the intervention plan.

Occupational therapy services may include comprehensive evaluations of the student’s home and other environments (e.g., school), recommendations for adaptive equipment and training in its use, and guidance and education for family members and caregivers. Occupational therapy practitioners have a holistic perspective, in which the focus is on adapting the environment to fit the student, and the student is an integral part of the therapy team. Occupational therapy is a science-driven, evidence-based profession that enables people of all ages to live life to its fullest by helping them promote health and prevent—or live better with—illness, injury, or disability.

Fine Motor Skills Development: This group is designed to work on fine motor skills development, bilateral coordination skills, in-hand manipulation skills, upper extremity strength and endurance, as well as, visual-motor skills development.

Candidates: Include students who demonstrated poor fine motor coordination, poor sequencing skills, poor handwriting skills, and poor keyboarding skills. Functionally, these students may demonstrate difficulties with tying shoes, buttoning, latching zippers, holding cards for a card game, shuffling cards, turning one page at a time with books or magazines, difficulty lining up numbers with math problems, dropping things, etc.

Handwriting Skills Group: This group is designed to work on handwriting skills development with focus on letter formation, spacing, legibility, visual-motor and/or visual perceptual skills and functional use of writing utensils.

Candidates: Functionally, these students have poor or messy handwriting, take an extra amount of time to complete written work, often avoid written work, have a dysfunctional pencil grip, etc.

Cooperative Play/Social Skills: This group is designed to work on cooperative play and social skills development through use of activity and play.

Candidates: Functionally, these students have difficulty working with others, sharing, turn-taking, cooperating, assertive communication, reading others’ body language and social cues, reading and understanding the social world around them and how they are observed by others, etc.

Individual OT Services: Individual OT services are designed for students who need individualized treatment. Recommendations for individualized OT treatment are generally based on initial OT Screen, OT evaluation, clinical observations, chart review, and teacher, therapist or parent request/recommendation. Individualized treatment is generally recommended for students demonstrating difficulties with: sensory processing, sensory modulation, self-regulation, motor planning, auditory processing, fine and gross motor coordination, handwriting, visual-motor and visual perceptual, executive functioning, attention and concentration, etc. Also, students who have difficulties with verbal expression of feelings and emotions.

Social Thinking®

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What is Social Thinking®?

Social Thinking® is what we do when we interact with people: we think about them. How we think about people affects how we behave, which in turn affects how others respond to us, which in turn affects our own emotions. When we share space with another human, whether we are with friends, sending an email, in a classroom or at the grocery store, we take in the thoughts, emotions and intentions of the people we are interacting with.

Most of us have developed our communications sense from birth onward, steadily observing and acquiring social information and learning how to respond to people. Because social thinking is an intuitive process, we usually take it for granted. But for many individuals, this process is anything but natural. And this often has nothing to do with conventional measures of intelligence. In fact, many people score high on IQ and standardized tests, yet do not intuitively learn the nuances of social communication and interaction. Cherry Gulch professionals utilize a treatment framework and curriculum developed by Michelle Garcia Winner that targets improving individual social thinking abilities, regardless of diagnostic label.

Social Thinking® strategies share common traits with “social skills” teachings but differ in that Social Thinking® builds specific thinking strategies that occur prior to social communication and interaction. Social Thinking® strategies include teaching students: How their own social minds work – why they and others react and respond the way they do; how their behaviors affect the way others perceive and respond to them; and how this affects their own emotions, responses to and relationships with others across different social contexts.

The goal of teaching students at Cherry Gulch Social Thinking® is that students will learn to recognize that they and others have different perceptions and abilities to process social information. They will also learn to navigate social interactions and communications in order to adapt and respond positively to the people and situations around them.

Currently, Cherry Gulch has encompassed the Social Thinking® model throughout the program by establishing a common vocabulary for staff and students, weekly Social Thinking® groups, parent education, and in the moment coaching. Moving forward the interdisciplinary team at Cherry Gulch is invested in expanding the Social Thinking® model.

Social Thinking® – Michelle Garcia Winner. Think Social Publishing.

The Hero’s Journey

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The Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell plays an essential role in the dialogue, therapy, and travel experiences that the boys at Cherry Gulch are a part of. The Hero’s Journey provides a framework for the process of change that occurs in our students and families during their time at here. The journey follows several steps, beginning with a call to adventure, followed by overcoming our personal weaknesses, while learning to overcome a variety of challenges along the way. The journey then culminates in the transformation of the hero and a return home as a more complete version of oneself.

We believe so strongly in the Hero’s Journey process that we have infused it into every aspect of our program, ranging from the lessons work, character-development curriculum, and international travel opportunities. This process embraces experiential learning, providing opportunities for profound self-discovery and change through overcoming challenges that are designed to help us discover our true capabilities. Some of these experiences have included backpacking through the White Clouds in Stanley, Idaho, bungee jumping in the lush rainforests of Costa Rica, and whitewater rafting down the famous Manso River in Patagonia. These experiences are deeply enriching for our boys as they require vulnerability, open-mindedness and courage and provide our students with an intentional framework for initiation into manhood.

The beauty, magnificence, and tranquility of nature has a way of wiping away fear, doubt, stress, and pain. We have found that through using nature and adventure to create a metaphor for life and our student’s individual life journeys, we create a platform for growth that allows our boys to experience more self-awareness, courage, and confidence to continue on their Hero’s Journey toward becoming their best-selves.

By learning from the hero’s journey of so many that have come before, both in fiction and reality, we begin to recognize the journey in our lives and the necessity to become the hero of our own stories, taking ownership for our challenges, our weaknesses, and also our victories and triumphs. Finding the hero within is the greatest journey that we can embark on in our process of change and something that will open up windows and doors of opportunity to find our bliss where before there were none. Seeking after bliss and recognizing how that differs from instant gratification, sets the framework for creating a life of joy, fulfillment and purpose and in many ways outlines the work that Cherry Gulch provides each day to help our boys find and become the truest version of themselves.


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At Cherry Gulch, we believe strongly in the importance of developing altruism among our staff and students. Robert K. Greenleaf, an expert on servant leadership said, “Caring for persons, the more able and the less able serving each other is the rock upon which a good society is built.” We believe that as a collective staff body at Cherry Gulch, we can model the importance of serving others through our own actions and become worthy role models for our students to emulate.

Our service coordinators organize several service projects for the students to participate in each month. Each hour and project is recorded for our students so that they can reflect back on the contributions that they were able to make during their stay at Cherry Gulch on both a local and global level. Cherry Gulch has a vibrant international travel program that incorporates a rich element of service. As we venture out into our global community, we try to find ways that we can learn from the cultures that we are able to immerse in as well as find ways that we can give back in meaningful ways. This often leads to long-term relationships with the communities that we are able to serve and a continuation of the giving that we were able to start while abroad.

In addition to our staff-planned service outings, through our lessons work system, the students are able to organize and carry out service projects that they are passionate about. Before our students graduate, they are encouraged to participate in a 100-hour service project, after which they are presented with the President’s Volunteer Service Award. Not only do the boys get to practice their leadership skills and feel the joy and accomplishment of reaching out and doing things for others through our service initiatives, they leave Cherry Gulch with a repertoire of experience and service hours on their resume that will help them with admittance into future schools, programs, colleges and jobs.

We believe that serving others is and should be at the core of what we do. As each of us joins together in serving one another and our community, we grow in compassion, empathy, and selflessness. We learn that true joy comes from thinking of others more than ourselves. I look forward to the continued growth of our students and staff as we engage in the service of others.

Global Learning

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At Cherry Gulch, we believe strongly in experiential education and engaging our students in learning opportunities that are focused on direct experience and focused reflection. We strive to provide opportunities that foster the development of new and useful skills, values clarification, enhanced knowledge, and an outward mindset that will allow students to be active leaders and contributors in their communities. Through the use of travel, including both stateside and international, we provide opportunities for our students to become vulnerable, open-minded, and courageous, and illuminate a path to self-discovery and change.

Cherry Gulch’s day-to-day curriculum is closely tied to the service, environmental, outdoor, cooperative and active learning that takes place while abroad. Each of our trips has a theme. By studying the texts that tie to that theme and diving into the deeper complexities that lie within, exploring, and making comparisons to our own world and the crises we face, we work to help create civically engaged teens. By working to incorporate cross-curricular studies in preparation for our travels, we allow for challenging activities that inspire and extend even our most gifted students and meet the learning standards for math, biology, chemistry, character development, English, astronomy and history.

The power of our students’ imagination is truly magical. It is a privilege to nurture their curiosity in ways that facilitate imaginative growth to creative ends by experiencing some of the world’s most exciting cultural sites and wilderness adventures! We believe the most powerful learning experiences come from endeavors that our students feel are of great importance. The service that we strive to provide to communities around the world is central to the learning that takes place through our international travel program. In providing opportunities for our students to immerse themselves in the hearts of these communities, we believe that both our students and those they serve can change and gain new perspectives on life, returning home a more informed and outward-minded global citizen.

Download a PDF of the Hero’s Journey Cycle (PDF attached).

“The cave we fear to enter, holds the treasure we seek.”
–Joseph Campbell

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