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Copper Canyon Academy is a behavior modification program for teens located in Rimrock, Arizona. It was opened in 1998 by Tammy (Prince) Behrmann, a former employee of WWASP’s Cross Creek Manor. Currently Copper Canyon is a CRC Health Group/ Aspen Education Group affiliated school. Paul Taylor is now the current Executive Director however ownership of the property itself is not known. CCA is advertised by several different Troubled Teen Industry marketing websites as a therapeutic boarding school, yet the strict rules, level program and the use of Aversion Therapy would suggest this school is a “tough love” program.
Opinions from former students are varied, some will say CCA saved their life while others will say it did nothing more than traumatize them. Most alumni agree that the methods were harsh, and they were not happy when they were at the school, but that some if not most of the staff genuinely cared about them. It is important to recognize what kind of a program Copper Canyon Academy offers, and the policies and methods that could be of concern for some parents. It is generally agreed that they offer a “one size fits all” approach to therapy, however they will accept any child with any issue, disorder or addiction. It is important to do your research, speak with your child’s doctor and carefully determine for if a behavior modification Program will work for your child. In most instances, teens with drug problems will benefit from a program that will separate them from their element at home, but teens with mental disorders, minor behavior issues or family issues will find this kind of program to be ill fitted to their individual needs.
Deceptive marketing techniques are nothing new to the troubled teen industry, often when explaining the aspects of the program they use commonly known words to describe their incompetent methods in order to obstruct the truth and make claims to such impossibilities as a “miracle cure” for adolescent behavior. What is called “therapy” is not a clinically approved method of rehabilitation, it is an experimental psychological treatment that utilizes the response to fear, intimidation and the human longing for love and acceptance as weapons against children’s psyche and is forced upon them to ensure absolute submission to the program’s doctrine. What is called “school” is not a real class setting but a self-study program no more “premiere” than the average homeschool education plan. What are called “activities” or “work projects” are really useless tasks and manual labor used as punishment and torment. Furthermore, CCA is NOT a “Therapeutic Boarding School”, it is a Behavior Modification Program. Parents should be wise to know the difference.
Although it isn’t clear if an actual evaluations process exists when considering students for admissions at CCA, it is known that the parent’s are given a survey to fill out about their teen’s behavior, issues and diagnosed medical disorders. This “evaluations process” costs a non refundable $750 and if for some reason you or CCA decide not to accept your daughter, those fees will not be returned. Apparently this survey, and the sole discretion of the CCA admissions staff is considered to be the equivalent of a civil commitment despite the lack any action to follow the appropriate laws to consult a third party physician and petition the court to determine the need for such an action. On all accounts this kind of involuntary commitment is a gross violation of human rights as well as the only constitutional rights afforded to minor citizens, the right to liberty, due process and not to be submitted to cruel and unusual punishment. Parental rights cannot legally over shadow human rights and the legal age of medical consent in any given state is usually 14. The fact that the CCA contract requires that you sign away both your’s and your child’s rights to consent is unconscionable and more importantly illegal.
The admissions process consists of a strip search (as well as a body cavity search which their contract requires you to authorize) a change of clothes and a run down of the rules of the program. No psych evaluation. No medical evaluation. No consideration of medical records, criminal records or school records. Entrance into the program is not determined by any third party, save for maybe an Ed Con (Educational Consultant) who is most certainly a paid marketer of the programs you are considering anyway. Their opinions will not be unbiased, and even with the slightest of cases of need, they will not pass up an opportunity to recommend a program for your child.
If you are looking into a program for your child an choose to take CCA’s survey, please, save your money and take our 2nd Opinion Survey, it is free and you will get honest answers to help you determine if CCA is NOT best suited to help your child.
CCA Parent survey – $750
2nd Opinion Survey – Free
Copper Canyon Academy is NOT a licensed Medical Care facility. Since Copper Canyon Academy is not licensed to provide the service they claim to provide, it is unreasonable for them to charge over $40,000 a year for “treatment” that is not a real or clinically approved treatment. Copper Canyon Academy does not claim to offer any legitimate services, guarantees no measure of improvement and offers no warranties which begs to question the inordinate amount of fees required to receive the equivalent of an unlawful incarceration.
For parents considering residential placement for their child it is important to understand what Behavior Modification/ Aversion Therapy is and how it may hurt your child in an unregulated residential treatment setting. Behavior Modification or Applied Behavior Analysis was first introduced in theory by BF Skinner in his 1957 book Verbal Behavior, which even in it’s time was known to be controversial but has over the years been redesigned for the purposes of application in residential treatment. Still considered an experimental therapy and outlawed as cruel and unusual punishment in some states, Aversion Therapy is cautioned to be used with reservation in adequately regulated environments and only by responsible mental health professionals. CCA does not provide an adequately qualified staff or environment to be conducting such experiments. CCASurvivors recommends that parents consider the risks of psychological damage before placing their child at risk.
CCA Survivor Blayke N:
“The program at CCA could easily be considered evident of significant psychological abuse and brainwashing. The level system was very harsh on lower levels. Lower levels were subjected to unreasonably strict rules and granted no free will, you were required to be escorted by upper levels at all times, even into the bathrooms. If they decided they did not want to take you at that very moment, you suffered until someone would step up and take you where you needed to go. You must stay on every level for a certain period of time ranging between 8-20 weeks. Every phone call and or piece of mail is monitored and screened. Treatment team (staff) would often order “Silence Vests” which was absolute restriction from speaking to anyone except staff. If you spoke, it was an automatic work hour (Chores, exercises and meaningless projects done in the early morning hours between 4 and 5am) and sometimes, a non-compliant meal which was cold rice and beans that sat in a freezer for months.
As for the surroundings of CCA, you are not in a safe environment. The program constitutes methods of abuse and brainwashing that children are susceptible to when they are put on all different medicines interfering with the ability to control their emotions and thoughts. Dr. Cahill a doctor who shows up once a month to see you for 5 minutes is responsible for the over medication of nearly every girl in CCA. CCA does not have a licensed nurse on campus and medical emergencies are often not taken seriously because the staff “doesn’t believe you,” or thinks “you are faking it.”
Before a lower level could move up a level, you must read a speech as to why you are worthy of moving up. which could be particularly humiliating, especially if you are denied your move up. Treatment Team then goes into a room and makes a decision. Treatment Team would then come back into the dorms and give you “constructive” feedback as well as your peers. Constructive feedback was mostly all negative things being said about you that you must learn to accept, otherwise you would never move up. The average stay for a girl is between 12-18 months, but most of the time the girls are there for more, simply due to the fact that it is more money coming in for CCA. Late on level three, most girls were moved to a “transition home.” A transition home was a staff members home in which the girls would live in for a month or two. The girls in transition are rarely seen.
Going to school at CCA was very different then a regular high school. The teachers were not much of “teachers.” Quite often, the students would explain facts to the teachers and give them an understanding of how to do a math problem, something in history, chemistry etc. The tests were often easy and multiple choice. Some were more difficult then others simply because we had no information to study. Also, CCA uses something called “Academic support.” If you are on academic support, you were not allowed to watch the movies on Friday nights. To get onto academic support, you must have failed a test or done very poorly. Reading material sent from home was usually taken if your therapist didn’t approve it. More often then not, it was NOT approved. During intake, they gave you books you must read. I do not recall the titles to them. During the night, your bed was checked by a staff member every 10 minutes to make sure you were still there. Also, at night if you had to come out of your room for any reason, you had to be in uniform. Row call took place about every 20 minutes during the day. Showers consisted of 3 minutes. This does not give the average teenager enough time to fully cleanse themselves. Staff buddy was a term used for a child who ran away and or is a threat to themselves. Staff buddies must remain within arms length of a staff member at all times. They were given one pair of clothes until they were off of staff buddy. Staff buddy could last as long as a month! The food quality of Copper Canyon Academy was vile. Most girls had gained an excessive amount of weight during their stay. CCA had no prescreening before they would accept you besides a survey.
You were denied access to a telephone and mailing anyone besides your mother or father. You were denied visitation unless your “therapist” approved the visit and you must be on at least level 2 to receive a visit. Lastly, CCA is detrimental to the developing brain of a teenager. When denied the basic rights of a human, and living in such a volatile environment, it can cause you real issues you never had before”
The education plan at Copper Canyon Academy is subpar at best, no more than a homeschool self-study program. Students are denied access to lectures, labs, classmate participation and computers. Test’s are easy and designed in ways to easily cheat and pass with perfect grades, in doing so, the pace is accelerated and children can complete multiple years worth of school in a matter of months. This seems to parents to be an improvement but it is ultimately a disservice, in that as most of what is learned is not retained, and this presents issues in testing for the SAT’s and college entrance exams. Colleges and universities also can easily see through this method and sometimes give less weight or even disallow the use of diplomas received from illegitimate schools.
Copper Canyon Academy engages in the use of “escort” or “transport” companies. These services amount to a transaction between parents and hired thugs to legally kidnap children and forcibly remove them, often across state lines.
The method of pickup that these companies use involves waiting until the child is asleep, breaching the child’s room, and dragging the youth out of his or her home into a waiting vehicle, most often after being stripped to their underwear and put into handcuffs.
Such “escort” procedures have been shown to inflict long-lasting damage, such as PTSD, upon affected youth that lasts long into adulthood. Additionally, most escort companies do not run background checks on their employees; numerous sex offenders have been discovered working for escort companies.
Coming from someone who was once escorted, it is definitely a shocking and traumatic experience. Most of the girls at CCA were escorted and that is a total violation of trust, before you finalize all the plans to send your child away to an all girls “therapeutic” boarding school- without visiting it first or talking to any of the students who actually go there- why dont you try talking to your child, openly discuss how you are feeling, discuss your thoughts and the possibility of being sent away, give them a shot to prove themself before they’re kidnapped at 4am by random strangers to a play that you’ve never even been to in person before. From my own experience, it is a day I will never forget…
–Former CCA Student
Aspen Education Group LLC – a long history of abuse, sexual exploitation and Death.