The following post was written by Juniper Canyon Assistant Clinical Director Rachel Rollins. Rachel has been a member of the Juniper Canyon team since the program started in 2018. She recently stepped into the role of Assistant Clinical Director. In the following post she talks about why she feels Juniper Canyon is the best option for young adult mental health treatment.

Think about all of the clinical resources in our country: how many resources are available to certain populations? How many Wilderness Therapy programs are there? It can seem that there are many options for folks… although access to many of these require an overwhelming amount of privilege. So why Juniper Canyon? To me, it’s easy- this world IS inundated with treatment programs for certain populations, but NOT for adult women, and NOT in the wilderness.

Juniper Canyon fills a very specific need within the array of treatment options. Never have I come across a program that takes clients up to 40 years old who not only meet criteria for substance abuse diagnoses, but also have lived through mental health struggles or trauma. Never have I seen a Wilderness Therapy program be able to work with multiple insurance companies to expand the social economic diversity of our clientele, become manageable for individuals with less resources, and all the while be able to provide appropriate case management.

Juniper Canyon has allowed me to believe that there is a place for female identified or non-binary individuals who thought these opportunities were closed to them. Individuals who have been through multiple treatment facilities and still could not get out of the heartbreaking cycle of addiction and mental illness can once again find hope at Juniper Canyon. These women can come to a place where they can create a chosen family. A place where they can climb mountains, repel through canyons, mountain bike through desert hills and fly fish in rivers- together, empowering one another to find strength in vulnerability and emotions.

We are also a clinically-driven program. At Juniper Canyon, our clients can begin to specifically work through trauma and mental/emotional blocks. Clients have multiple therapy sessions with their primary therapist and a substance abuse counselor each week. Juniper Canyon offers a multitude of modalities including but not limited to: Equine Therapy, DBT, CBT, EMDR, Art and Experiential Therapy, Adventure Therapy, and recovery groups such as 12 Step. Therapists at Juniper Canyon have the autonomy to individualize client’s care, creating custom treatment plans. We see individuals who need substance abuse treatment and specific skills in sobriety, but there are others who require a focus on recovering from trauma, or mental health issues. We are able to meet clients where they are at, with the treatment that best serves them.

One of the reasons I fell in love with Juniper Canyon stems from our intentional Rites of Passage program and ceremony-based culture. By Rites of Passage, I mean having intentional interventions that help clients lean into their identity. Spending time alone in the wilderness, allowing themselves to more deeply connect to the earth, the ground, the sky, the spirits, whatever one believes in that may be larger than oneself is an incredibly powerful and empowering experience for our clients. We have done a lot of work to make an un-appropriated culture surrounding Rites of Passage, and believe we honor the traditions of peoples who utilized the wilderness to promote maturity and growth.

The last reason I love this place so much, this program so much, is that I finally feel that I am in a place I feel safe in. More importantly, I feel confident we create safety for our clients. When we look at the world around us, the places we live, the cities we dwell in– how many people have access to safety? Especially safety in the outdoors? In the unknown? I feel so blessed to have found a space where there is intentional community, both for those of us who work at Juniper Canyon, and our clients we work with. People come together here to help others feel loved. The fact there is such mutual respect and community here is mindblowing to so many of our clients- because they have forgotten how to love and be loved. In some extreme cases they have never known love, never seen love, never understood love…until they arrive here. I’ve had clients say to me “I didn’t know people were actually this nice to each other.” We treat everyone with dignity and respect. We practice being kind to each other and to ourselves. Kindness is exactly what the world needs right now. Juniper Canyon often feels like coming home to many individuals- staff and clients alike. That’s not to say it is a comfortable experience to work through trauma or emotional turmoil.  It is often uncomfortable here, but clients soon see they are surrounded by support.

Juniper Canyon will change your life, if you let it.