Reviews From Our Alumni and Parents

Our alumni and parents share their experience with Elk River Treatment Program

Survey Results of Alumni and Parents

I want to thank each and every staff member who was involved in (my son's) journey. I am forever grateful to Elk River for the care given to my son. The rules and boundaries and tough love combined with compassion and care were the right environment for him to finally let go and heal. This place literally saved his life. The world needs more people with hearts like yours.
- Parent October 2023

I feel like this program helped the most in finding tools to help me in the long run and the therapy helped me the most.
- Client Survey March 2023

What the program did best for me was help me find myself, and help build my family relationship back up.
- Client Survey September 2023

The nursing staff was kind, compassionate, and had amazing attention to detail. Academics were outstanding and personalized. I learned so much (on family day). I wish there had been even more programming. In summary, the program was personalized to meet each client where he/she was.
- Parent Survey August 2023

I can't thank the staff enough for essentially saving (my daughter's) life because that's pretty much what happened. I love how you require parent involvement in the healing process because that process needs to continue at home.
- Parent Survey July 2023

"Its program is solid and its staff's care for each student is tangible."

After reaching a crisis point, our therapeutic consultant recommended Elk River for our 15 year old son.

Prior to enrolling our son, I visited Elk River and was instantly touched by the heartfelt care of each individual I met. Ms. Baker, Ms. Pepper, Mr. White and Ms. Marino spent hours with me, carefully reviewing our son's profile. The attention to detail, the patience with which all of my questions were answered and transparent honesty all contributed to knowing that Elk River was the next step in our son's recovery.

Our 15 year old son attended Elk River from June 2022 until December 2022.

The campus is basic, but intentional in its design as it does not distract from the intense therapeutic work the children do there. There is structure to each day, rising at 5:30 am, followed by exercise and breakfast before school and other activities are underway. A good portion of the day is spent outdoors, exercising, hiking, absorbing nature. Meals are plentiful and need to be as the children are kept quite active. Yes, life at Elk River structured and strict but this is intentional. Students learn their role in a community, how their actions impact not just themselves, but others, and the consequences of their behavior. Basically, these students relearn how to live in a functioning society. This is a program that a student can't talk him/herself out of.

Our son met weekly with Dr. Sprinkle, Elk River's psychiatrist. His approach is conservative and he does not endorse medication for the purpose of medicating. Additionally, our son also met with a nurse daily to receive his multi-vitamin. This is intentional because it allows one more set of eyes on the student to pick up on the nuances of behavior.

Along side the work that our son did, my husband and I were actively participating in our own journey changing our parent/child/family dynamic. The time we invested in weekly letters, journaling, family therapy calls and reading recommended books were worth every second.

As the weeks turned into months, we saw a change in our son and in ourselves. Anger dissolved, communication improved within all parties and he really began to focus on his wellness and future. Elk River's campus allowed him to find beauty and peace in nature, simple pleasures like finding a special feather. As our son worked through each stage of the program, he developed more confidence, control and pride in his actions.

We had monthly visits at Elk River with our son which included parental education. Before we knew it, Elk River began preparing us for home visits with our son and eventually transitioning us to his graduation from Elk River. So much thought went into what is recommended and what is needed post Elk River life. We felt prepared for the day we learned of our son's graduation from Elk River.

Graduation was emotional and every piece of his journey at Elk River came full circle. There were tears of joy, of pride. At the ceremony, we saw our son, full of confidence in his words, full of peace and of hope. We were surrounded by our Elk River family who supported us all through this process.

Anyone who is considering Elk River for their child, is at a point of crisis. Elk River is equipped to handle the most difficult of cases because its program is solid and its staff's care for each student is tangible. Do not waste time. Do not question this decision and do not believe the negative reviews. Every single Residential Treatment Program, Wilderness Program or Therapeutic Boarding school has positive and negative reviews. EVERY SINGLE ONE. Focus on the positive. Visit the campus. Meet the staff.

Elk River saved our son's life and we will forever be grateful.

- EvP, Parent of 2022 Graduate of Elk River Treatment Program

"From day one we were impressed by the logic with which our son's case was handled."

To any family or individual that is considering Elk River:

Reviews have to be taken with a grain of salt. It is easy to criticize and find fault in a program that is inherently dealing with difficult situations. Keep in mind that, regretfully, you or your family are probably looking at such programs due to the fact that other "lighter" options have not worked or generated the desired results.

Also with respect to reviews keep in mind it is easy to write one sentence, click one star. This has the potential to severely impact an organization with minimal effort. If you really had a good or bad experience, take the time to be honest and explain. Otherwise buyer beware that the review may not be authentic.

My family's experience at Elk River involved our son who was spirally out of control socially, emotionally and academically. This occurred over the course of over ten months. Family connections were being lost, positive role models were being ignored and his core group of friends were people who dragged him down and encouraged him to reach new lows rather than inspire him to be the best self that he could be. Experimentation with harmful substances was starting and an unhealthy dependance on repugnant social media was flourishing. Generally there was also a lack or regard for self (self care, self consciousness, self respect).

Given that other options including Wilderness had failed, Elk River was a logical next step. From day one we were impressed by the logic with which our son's case was handled. We had a dedicated point of contact, frequent updates and clear definitions and milestones. Of course, living conditions, clothing, etc... were simple or basic, but they were sufficient and highlighted the reality of the child's situation and the position he/she had placed themselves in. Keep in mind, the purpose of Elk River is to motivate change, not reward the past or the status quo.

After the initial two-month period of denial, with each passing month, we saw a rebirth of our old son. He was given the tools to recognize that his path was not going to lead to success and that change was needed. The key was that he was given the tools to recognize this on his own. Pardon the cliche, but it's like the old saying "teach a man to fish and he will feed himself forever, give him a fish and he will eat one meal." Elk River helped him see that he should want to change.

Our family's team which consisted of Ms. Pepper and Mr. Davis (there are countless others who were positive influences) really saved our son's life. They helped guide him to safety and provided my wife and me with the tools needed to support him during and after his time at Elk River. Equally, post Elk River the team was by our side to make sure that support frameworks were in place to prevent regression. We cannot thank Elk River enough for what they have done.

  • A few pointers:
    Change takes time. Don't think that problem swill be fixed from day 1. After all you are trying to unlearn additions, poor behaviors and destructive patterns that may be deeply engrained.
  • Yes, there are horror stories. They are real but they are the ones that are amplified unnecessarily. Keep in mind that you / your loved one is close to rock bottom and this is not a fun place to be.
  • Force is used as an absolute last resort. The councilors are human and need to defend themselves. If a chair is thrown by a "client" there must be consequences. First they may be loss of group privileges, loss of snacks, etc...
  • Finally your role as a parent is the determining factor in a child's ultimate success. Chances are that YOUR behavior also needs to change. You will have to learn how to parent (even if that means saying "NO!")

Elk River saved our family. We thank God for the team every night. We are on Elk River's list of references so if you want more information contact them to have them contact us. We want other families to have the same success that we had. This is not a fun place to be but there is hope. It starts at Elk River.

- CvP, Parent of 2022 Graduate of Elk River Treatment Program

Son gains relationship with Mom

The most important thing I've gained here has been a relationship with Mom. I don't know if it would have ever been built without this place and the relationship, connection and bond I've built with her during my time here is something that I value so much.

- D.H. - 2022 Client

"Elk River was amazing and changed our lives."

My son was at Elk River for 6 months in 2016. Elk River was amazing and changed our lives. The staff is very knowledgeable about a wide variety of behaviors that teens can go through and participate in. My son had many challenges and the team there guided him towards being in control of his emotions and reactions. He gained tools to use in dealing with the underlying issues that the negative behaviors were covering up. The bottom line is that our family had some issues and we ALL needed to change. They taught us how to communicate and live together in a more positive way. It isn't a quick fix. The system took time and everyone's participation even after my son came home. It was rough at home for a while after the "honeymoon" phase but we consistently worked through the problems. I am happy to say that my son now is a much more mature, respectful and thoughtful young man. Much credit goes to my son and us for using the tools they gave us, but I also give credit to the Elk River staff and treatment for the work and care they put into my son and our family.

- S.W., Parent of 2021 Graduate of Elk River Treatment Program

"Words cannot express our gratitude to all of the staff at Elk River"

Words cannot express our gratitude to all of the staff at Elk River. The kindness and care we all received made a very difficult situation a little more bearable. We left every phone conversation and visit more knowledgeable and more empowered to make positive changes in our lives. Thank you!

- Parents, 2019

"You saved my son's life and for this I will be forever grateful."

Thank you so much to Bailey and the entire staff at Elk River. You saved my son's life and for this I will be forever grateful!

- Parents - 2019

"A life changing experience"

"I’d just like to thank everyone at treatment team for my journey at Elk River. It has been a life changing experience and it truly means so much that there are people devoting themselves to rebuilding lives and teaching others the error in their ways but also showing them a path but doing it in a way where the individual has to figure it out for themselves. I can compare it to a test coming up and when someone gives you the study guide you may consider it but most people will dismiss it, but when you create the study guide and ask for feedback and get help with it you learn a lot more and are better prepared for the test/life. Elk River has also taught me the value in therapy, processing things, group work, and individual work also. These are all important things to continue to work on because there will always be something to process, something to work on (with or without a group), and it always is a viable option to process this with a fresh set of eyes.

My transition home has not been all good, I’ve had a few relapses but with each one I focus not on the relapse and continuing to sink further but to focus on the bounce back from it and come back stronger than before.

I’d like to thank all the therapists and all the group leaders for my journey because it took a lot of work to get to where I am now and Im certain I wouldn’t have been able to do it without help."

- Paul B. - 2018 Client

"I'm so grateful we found you and all the staff that helped our family."

"As I reflect over this past year and where we were last Thanksgiving, in and out of hospitals and all of the chaos, one word comes to mind - Grateful! I’m so grateful we found you and all the staff that helped our family. We are beyond grateful for you all. What you all do every day is so critically important and I’m sure you don’t hear thank you enough. Thank you so much."

- M. Harris, 2017 Parent

"The staff at ELK River is so experienced, professional and most responsible and compassionate."

"My child spent over a year in this most phenomenal program. It completely changed his life. He was a mess when he joined. We made sure that us as parents, worked closely with the camp on changing the way we were operating as a family, as we needed to be an integrated part of the program in order to make it a success. We were extremely fortunate, as the staff at ELK River is so experienced, professional and most responsible and compassionate. The program must be tough in order to succeed. It was frightening to us as parents, but we decided to trust the camp explicitly and it worked. Our child ended up in a top university with a scholarship, happy and secure. His amazing turnaround would had never come about without the fortunate choice of choosing ELK River.

We owe our lives to them. We only hope that other families with similar situations will be lucky enough to end up there. Recalling the many touching moments at the camp, remembering the many kids who were in terrible distress and the way the camp is working with them brings tears to my eyes each and every time (now two years ago). Thank you, ELKRiver." -

- Yaron, 2015 Parent

"I still use a lot of the tools that I learned at Elk River in my everyday life."

"My whole experience at Elk River has absolutely changed my life. It's crazy to think about how much I hated that place at the time and now to realize how much I miss it every day. Mr. Lovell told me I would miss it but I never believed that. I'm still seeing my therapist that I had before I went to Elk River, I have an amazing relationship with all of my parents and the rest of my family, and I'm just all around a happier person. I still use a lot of the tools that I learned at Elk River in my everyday life. I've always known that my calling in life was to help people but after going through the program, I've decided that I want to work in residential treatment similar to Elk River." - March 2016

- Jennifer - 2014 Client

"You were a comforting presence in a time of great anguish and uncertainty."

"Thank you again for the kindness you have shown to our daughter and all our family. You were a comforting presence in a time of great anguish and uncertainty and for that we will be forever grateful. The many families you have helped, and treated with sensitivity and respect, are fortunate indeed to have found their way to you. You made all the difference. Thank you."

- Tricia - 2015 Parent

"We were desperate when we made the decision to admit our son ..."

"We were desperate when we made the decision to admit our son who was in college across the country. He was depressed, anxious and abusing alcohol and drugs. Now he’s at Auburn with a 4.0, studying abroad and doing great. We credit Elk River for his success."

- Trey M. - Parent

"Being around people as amazing as you all helped so much."

"I know you all say it was my choice to change, but being around people as amazing as you all helped so much. Thank you so much!"

- Andrew - Client

"Elk River provided BIG changes in our son and our family."

"After finishing Elk River, our son continued with his online school and graduated. He works full time, lives at home, is respectful - a delight. He has a good relationship with our family. Elk River provided BIG changes in our son and our family. We have very fond memories."

- C. K. - Parent

"Thank you for believing in me!"

"I can’t explain to you all how thankful I am. I believe that my life will be full of happiness and trust now. Thank you for believing in me!"

- Lucie - Client