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Posted May 14, 2003 

The Ranch Program at Salem
Flanagan, Illinois
Jay Hurd – Admissions

The Ranch Program at Salem is a 9-12 month Christian boarding school for boys ages12 – 18. Typical students have exhibited: a short history of substance abuse, disregard for rules and curfews, sexual promiscuity, running away, body disfigurement, truancy, and/or plummeting grades, and may have shown hostility or physical violence toward other family members, and/or have had frequent violent outbursts at home. The Ranch Program combines a time-proven equine therapy program with daily chores, school, a “superior treatment program, and constructive relationships that help to nurture values, self-worth, and integrity in kids who may be unreachable any other way.”

The cornerstones of Salem’s “nationally recognized” equine therapy program are the majestic Arabian horses that were once coveted by Spanish Conquistadors. These horses bring a unique combination of spirit, stability and loyalty, three essential “building blocks” for lasting healthy relationships between people. These building blocks help cultivate the bonds of caring and trust between a young man and a horse that result in the renewal of the youth’s willingness to engage in “meaningful relationships with people.” Certified equine therapists used this concept to design the Salem Therapeutic Equestrian Program (STEP), which is used as one of the tools to help Salem residents develop emotional and social growth. These residents participate in all aspects of caring both for the stables as well as the horses, which provides invaluable vocational skills and therapeutic benefits. The residents train together with the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA) trained staff to train, show and market horses across the country, primarily for use in Class A competitions.

An essential part of the Ranch’s program is the Teaching Family Model (TFM), a behavioral/cognitive therapy that builds relationships and teaches skills, thus allowing the residents to experience and understand the direct consequences of their behaviors. Residents also have individual therapy at least once a week from a Masters’ level counselor and participate in regular group therapy 3-5 times a week. In addition, students’ special needs or concerns are solved on an “ad hoc” basis. This combination of therapies focuses on positive feedback and reinforcement helping the Salem Ranch residents to develop the discipline, self-esteem, and social skills that can give them a real chance at becoming productive members of society.

To be accepted into the Ranch Program, the parents must commit to be actively involved in the treatment process, including attending family retreats, participating in family therapy, and “Common Sense Parenting” classes, all of which help the parents to reinforce their child’s progress after he leaves the Ranch Program.

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