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Aspen Education Group

CCA Survivors Speak Out

What kids who went to Copper Canyon Academy had to say about their experience there - r/troubledteens

CCASurvivors.com has made their survey results available to the public. These are the answers to just a few questions, there is much more on the site.

Copper Canyon Academy is owned by Aspen Education Group, which is owned by CRC Health Group, which is owned by Bain Capital. There have been six deaths at Aspen programs, some were because staff thought kids were “faking” illness and did not get them medical treatment in time.

The year the person attended and their length of stay is indicated at the end of each quote.

If you felt you were being abused, was there anyway you could get to a phone and have a private conversation with your parents, child services or an officer of the law?

No. If you told your parents that you were being abused, they had already been informed by the school to expect to hear such things from you and to assume that you were lying, and to report to the school that you were being negative. (2006, 21 months)

No. Definitely not. In fact, girls who did try to e-mail or write their parents about it got in trouble when their parents confronted the school. We weren’t allowed to talk to people outside of the school and let them know that we were being abused. There were no ways to call child protective service at all. (2006, 1 year)

no (2010, 5 months)

No. (2008, 11 months)

No, none whatsoever. Letters were written to CPS but they were never actually sent. (2010, 2 months)

no (2009, 11 months)


If you wanted to leave were you discouraged to tell your parents how you felt? Were you afraid that you would be punished if you were to describe any incidents of abuse to your parents?We were discouraged from telling our parents anything “negative” about the program. So, yes. (2006, 21 months)If we so much as told our parents that we were unhappy there and it was found out, we would be immediately dropped down to level 1 for “manipulation.” (2006, 1 year)

yes (2010, 5 months)

Yes and yes. However on level four I told them I wanted to leave but I never got in trouble but I think that’s because my letter was never read by a staff member because they trusted me. (2008, 11 months)

If you said you wanted to leave, the called it manipulation so you were punished. Everything was monitored so there was no way in telling your parents what was going on without being in trouble (2010, 2 months)

yes (2009, 11 months)

You would be punished if you told your parents you wanted to leave and they found out, you would be dropped for being “manipulative.” (2010, 6 months)


If you got sick were you given adequate treatment and rest?

No. You were only allowed to be treated or to rest if you had vomited (and the vomit was witnessed by a staff member) or if you had a fever. (2006, 21 months)

No. I was sick a few times but I never wanted to go on sick day because they made you sleep in a random bunk bed and didn’t really pay any attention to you. I recall a girl having a very bad migraine on the weekend and staff not allowing her to keep the door shut while she was trying to sleep. It was loud. (2006, 1 year)

Sometimes. Most of the time they told us to drink water (2008, 11 months)

No, they often didnt “believe” you. (2010, 2 months)

no (2009, 11 months)

 

Were you ever refused medical care because staff said that you were “faking it”?

Yes. (2006, 21 months)

Yes. Often. One staff member, Janet Moore, always told the girls that if they weren’t feeling good, it was obviously because they weren’t drinking enough water. (2006, 1 year)

yes (2010, 5 months)

I wasn’t but someone else was even though she was having seizures (2008, 11 months)

All the time (2010, 2 months)

Yes, there was a girl who got toxic shock syndrome, she almost died because they refused to take her to the hospital for so long, on the grounds that she was “faking it.”

(2010), 6 months)

Were proper check ups, dental cleaning, and medication observation appointments held regularly?

Only if your parents made sure of it. (2006, 21 months)

Not really. We had medication appointments with a psychiatrist regularly. He was weird and didn’t really ask much about how we were feeling. I think he took feedback from staff about how we acted and then medicated us accordingly. (2006, 1 year)

not really (2010, 5 months)

No and you were not allowed off campus on level one (2010, 2 months)

No (2009, 11 months)

 

What is the name of your case manager/ “Therapist”? Did they have degrees/ licenses? What were their qualifications before taking the job at CCA?

I was shown the CCA job application once, it’s not even two pages! The staff have no experience or degrees within the mental health field. They should not be able to work with children. My ‘therapist’ was non confidential everyone including your teachers knew what you said. It’s completely disgusting. My therapist did not care. I do not know if he had proper licensing. (2010, 6 months)

 

Please describe the “Work Hour” experience. How did you feel about this?

Work hours consisted of being woken up at 4 or 5 am and also forced to continue them after school depending on how many you had and cleaning or performing strenuous activity that some girls were not physically able to do. This would cause extreme exhaustion making you very vulnerable to their “therapy” aka brainwashing. For instance, I had knee surgery during my stay at Copper Canyon Academy and 3 days after I had my surgery, I was forced to run up a hill to the “upper” buildings and then continue to mop, sweep, and scrub the building. I was forced to run the dirt track everyday. I was forced to scrub the grout between the tile while a staff member would watch and laugh at me while saying condescending things like “you’re here for a reason” or “you deserve this because you did something wrong.” Personally, I received a work hour the second day I was at CCA for taking a square to many of cheese. Work hours would often prevent you from being able to have desert that they give you on Friday nights. Work hours were given like water. If you forgot to raise your hand, spoke out of turn, forgot your chemically filled water bottle (water is not filtered), stepped out of the single file line, forgot to get your tray checked off during meal time (you must eat everything on your plate that you took, mind you that you are on a 3,000 calorie diet in which I gained 25lbs in 2 months) taking 2 spoonfuls of salad dressing (yes a staff member would stand and watch every child to make sure they got 1 spoonful of salad dressing) going into your room without an upper level, coming out of your room in the middle of the night not in uniform or in general walking out of your room even if it were to get a staff member because you were going to be sick etc. you would receive a work hour. Work hours make you feel like you are worthless, scrubbing floors, doing strenuous activity and being talked down to on top of doing just the few parts of a work hour I described is torturous. The work hours are written in a “black book” and you would receive “constructive” feedback after or before you work hour as to why you received one. Constructive feedback entailed being yelled at, getting an explanation on what a bad kid you were, being called stupid, idiotic, pitiful, embarrassing, a disgrace etc. On every level, you could only have a certain amount of work hours to move up to the next, so if you exceeded the amount allowed, you were held on that same level for weeks/months. If you had too many work hours a week, on Friday and Saturday nights you were isolated and put into an empty classroom to study. Many staff members would not even allow you to use the bathroom during your work hours and if it were to be an emergency, you would receive an extra work hour. (2010, 2 months)

Work hours could be given by a staff member or teacher for any student infraction, no matter how minor. I was given a work hour for annoying a staff member by singing during free time outside, with no warning. If you felt like you didn’t deserve a work hour, you could submit a grievance, which involved filming out a form describing how you’d been wrong and putting it in the grievance box. I’m 95% sure the grievance box got opened maybe once every three months.
To work off most work hours- usually if you had more than five, people with less were let off easier- you were woken up at 5 AM by being shaken awake by a staff member. You had to walk across campus with them to either clean classrooms, bathrooms, or pull weeds or shovel rocks. Shoveling rocks basically had no purpose except to punish us with physical labor, and was abusive and pointless.
Some of the more self-serving staff members would allow you to work off a work hour by doing something like throwing a soda can away for them, which happened to me once. I got six work hours taken off by the drama teacher, Adam, for stepping in to play a role in the school play last minute. There was no formula or any written rules regarding work hours. (2006, 21 months)

We had to get up in the morning at 5, even during the winter, and pick weeds, move rocks, clean things, and all sorts of ridiculous things.  Toward the end of my time being there, they started having girls wash the staff’s cars for work hours. (2006, 1 year)

its child labor (2010, 5 months)

Please describe “Staff Buddy” and the purpose of the yellow/ orange construction vests.

Staff buddy… you must be arms length from staff, one pair of clothes, no showering/restroom with door closed. The construction vests are 24 hour silence vests, if you “break silence” you will be put in one, this means making eye contact with someone you are not allowed to talk to, or speaking to them, if you talk to someone or make eye contact with someone in these vests you will then be put in one. That means no talking for 24 hours except to ask to use the restroom. (2010, 6 months)

Was contact with your parents limited? Where your letters (to and from) intercepted? Were your letters opened, read, crossed out or cut?

Level ones wore red shirts. They were not allowed to wear any non-uniform clothes except for pajamas, and weren’t allowed to wear sneakers except for at exercise- only flip-flops. During my first winter at CCA, the school nurse felt so bad for level ones walking around in flip-flops during 35 degree weather that she bought us all toe socks for Christmas, using her own paycheck.
We weren’t allowed to use the restroom without an upper level student standing outside the door. We weren’t allowed to walk anywhere alone. We could only talk to our parents for five minutes a week, and that was on the phone with a therapist. Emails were probably intercepted, but letters weren’t. (2006, 21 months)

Level 1: One five-minute phone call with their parents per month (obviously supervised with therapist), not allowed to talk to any other level 1s, not allowed to wear tennis shoes except for exercise.. ONLY flip flops, and not even nice flip flops like Crocs that were comfortable and didn’t fall off my feet.  I wore them and got in trouble.  Not allowed to go to the bathroom on their own or shower, they can’t even go to their bedroom on their own.  They had to be babysat by an upper level or staff at all times, even in school.
Contact with parents: It was very limited.  We could only speak to them during scheduled therapy phone calls that were very short and through snail mail or e-mails.  All of our e-mails were read by curious staff.  There wasn’t a policy in place to read emails, but they did anyways. (2006, 1 year)

yes (2010, 5 months)

Yes. You only talked to your parents with your therapist. Emails were sometimes read and notes were taken on you if there was somethig bad in th letter (2008, 11 months)

contact with parents was limited, no phone access and computer access only when they thought it was appropriate. My emails and letters were opened and by accident, I received the email where my therapist was being CC’ed onto my emails so I found out. (2010, 2 months)

yes (2009, 11 months)

If you are on level one you basically have no rights. No speaking to other people on level one, no going anywhere by yourself-includes bathroom, no make up. They read all of your emails to your parents they called it screening, you also were not allowed to close your letters before sending them because they read them. You were not allowed to say bad things about CCA or they would drop you for manipulating, you could not ask for things in your emails. In fact they send emails to your parents telling them things you might say to leave like theres bugs in the food, there is bugs in the food it happened on two separate occasions when I was there. (2010, 6 months)


How long before you were able to speak to your parents on the phone? Were your phone calls monitored?

I didn’t speak to my parents until my second month at CCA. All phone calls made on campus were monitored throughout the program. (2006, 21 months)

I wasn’t allowed to talk to my parents on the phone for 1 month.  After the first month, I got to talk to my mom for 5 minutes on the phone under the supervision of my therapist. (2006, 1 year)

yes (2010, 5 months)

A month. Five minutes on christmas (2008, 11 months)

I never spoke to my mother on the phone, I was never allowed. Phone calls on all levels were monitored by either a therapist or dorm staff. (2010, 2 months)

yes (2009, 11 months)

Phone calls are always monitored, they are on speaker and your therapists listens to everything you say. If CCA didn’t have things to hide they wouldn’t screen every form of communication. You could call your parents on holidays. (2010, 6 months)

 

Were there other students (upper levels) assigned to watch over you? What was their role? Did they give you consequences/ “hold you accountable”? Were they instructed to restrain you or monitor the isolation area, bathrooms and showers?

Part of the responsibilities of upper levels was to watch level ones. They had to walk level ones everywhere, including classes and the rest room. If they caught you breaking a rule, they would hold you accountable. They were never instructed to restrain anyone, though I did witness a situation in which a staff member had two level fours go after a runaway student with her. (2006, 21 months)

Yes. Upper levels had to watch level 1s do just about everything. Level 2s could go to the bathroom by themselves, etc. Only level 4s could go to the laundry room alone. Everyone else had to be accompanied by a level 4. During my first week, I was asking an upper level from a different house if there was anything I could do about my roommates being rude to me. They “held me accountable” for “gossip” and I was later given 4 work hours. (2006, 1 year)

yes (2010, 5 months)

Upper levels watched you while you went to your room an had to go to the room with you when you went to the bathroom. We were told to hold people accountable. I know this is bad but the only way to move up was to throw other people under the bus. To point out what others were doing wrong so people could think you were doing good.(2008, 11 months)

Yes, when we got there you had a “big sister” she explained all of the rules to you. They had to hold you accountable for mistakes so they could move up in the program! on level one and two you always needed an upper level to go anywhere, including the bathroom. (2010, 2 months)

yes (2009, 11 months)

 

Do you believe that the program acting within the means of “Tough Love” was appropriate treatment for you in your adolescence?

Tough love is a nice way of saying it but you must take love out of it. The staff is cruel they treat you like criminals, they believed we were like their enemies. There was a few select staff that were great but they got fired or quit because of how bad this place is. The words they should use is emotionally abusive and traumatic. (2010, 6 months)

No, it completely destroyed all trust and I now have severe attachment disorder. (2004, 3 months)

Not really, no.  Tough love is great.  Cruelty is not. (2006, 12 months)

No, I now suffer from PTSD and anxiety. (2010, 3 months)

Considering long term effects, do you think your experience at CCA has an effect on your life today? Positive or negative?

Yes, it has a negative effect on my life today. I am still fighting my depression which CCA sent me into. I am attending a CSU and doing well in school. But mentally, I am messed up. I cry all the time, it’s very hard for me to control my emotions. I can’t deal with things because of that place. They make you feel lower than low, its to break you. I hate this place and what they do it makes me sick to my stomach. I still have CCA nightmares weekly and its been three years. For the first year I was home I had to wear socks on my hands because I would scratch myself in my sleep. (2010, 6 months)

Negative, I have night terrors (2010, 5 months)

Discussion

23 Responses to “CCA Survivors Speak Out”

  1. Art Lewis:
    Also, how can I communicate directly with founder of this web page for further research; I’ve spoken with Kathryn Whitehead of CAFETY…
    For research purposes for a journal, I need to clarify on Copper Canyon points raised in New York Part article. Does Copper Canyon still — or ever, and please clarify if it’s still going on– require students in some cases to reenanct traums like rape , Mount-Bachelor style? Is withholding food, sleep ,etc. still common punitive technique? Which websites or facebook pages, etc.. have gathered the most information on Copper Canyon? And survivors have posted on the record or anonymous comments?
    Here’s excerpts of NY Post article:
    Since the [Shipp] show began, dozens of former students from youth facilities across the country have been flocking online to Web sites like ccaSurvivors.com and Reddit’s “Troubled Teens” forum to share their frightening experiences.

    An online petition — posted Wednesday — asks Lifetime president Nancy Dubuc to stop sending teens to so-called “therapeutic boarding schools.”

    Former students say CCA, which is owned by Aspen Education Group, deprives students of food, water and sleep as disciplinary measures and forces some to re-enact horrific events from their lives — including their own rapes — in front of peers.

    “I wan’t allowed to talk for most of the time I was there,” former student Blayke Navon, 18, who was not on the show but is one of the school’s most vocal critics, tells The Post.

    Navon, who had no history of substance abuse or illegal behavior, was 15 when she was forcibly removed from her home at 5 a.m.

    “Two people came into my room, woke me up and told me I needed to go with them,” she remembers. “I thought I was being kidnapped.”

    CCA “is like a Nazi concentration camp,” says Navon’s mother Laurie, who yanked her daughter out after just 6 weeks. “I thought I was sending her to a top notch boarding school. She still has nightmares about it.”

    Laurie Navon says the school disciplined her daughter, who was battling anorexia, by placing her on food restriction.

    On “Teen Trouble,” Shipp — who has no formal license or training — attempts to set wayward youth straight by locking them in jail or forcing them sleep with the homeless.
    http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment/tv/reality_show_told_school_stop_sending_eXSiyTY2aAh4J3Kpn3VvDM

    ‘Abused’ teens take aim at Lifetime reality show
    http://www.nypost.com
    Double ‘Trouble’

    Posted by Art Lewis | January 25, 2013, 3:56 am
  2. is anyone actually going to DO anything about this shithole place?

    Posted by basha | April 28, 2013, 3:31 am
    • I was reading a magazine, an older one, and in it was an anonymous story about a therapeutic councilor who was a part of a program where a child died, directly involved. I recognized the story. When I went to a week long training expedition hoping to become a councilor I heard the story. When I read that magazine I cried. . . I just wanted you to know that as a councilor in training, someone who would work for that company I got sick during training. Like sick enough to be hospitalized and remained sick for several months after. . . I was belittled and yelled at and even though I was vomiting constantly I was forced to drink enormous amounts of water at one time and gulp heaps of food which I then promptly threw up. I had to hike out about 9 miles in about waste deep snow, they would not send a snowmobile to get me. When I got back to their base camp and was sent to a local hospital the training director said, “Oh I guess you really were sick” I was taken into a room and interrogated about why things were just so difficult for me, I was shattered and I was just there to train to be a councilor not even a student. The reality is many people go into psychological fields, prisons, therapeutic training because they need the help themselves, because its positions that give them power over people otherwise considered inconsequential. Nothing will ever be done about it but you aren’t alone. SUWS is closed now. That’s a good thing. After that experience I can honestly say I have never really recovered in my view on humanity or life. . . I’m sorry you had to be there.

      Posted by patricia thomas | February 7, 2014, 6:43 pm
      • I read every word of your comment, perhaps a fe years too late. But i FELT EVERYTHING you were saying. mY FRIEND BROKER HER ANKLE AND WAS not sent to base camp at all. She had to borrow my staff just to hike with us. … So many feelings in s few words. I’m glad its closed in a way. Bless those poor children who know our pain. xoxox

        Posted by BASHA | October 26, 2014, 3:24 pm
      • I have one final comment. Despite all the abuse I have been through, I have risen above. I am doing it and anyone can too. I’m going to college and getting my doctorate so I can truly help others and show them compassion.

        Posted by BASHA | October 26, 2014, 3:28 pm
  3. Where can the parent survivors of cca comment?

    Posted by Mom 2004 | July 4, 2013, 6:46 am
    • Parents are welcome and encouraged to comment on any article on the website… The more personal experiences shared on this site the more the word gets out. Please let me know if you have any suggestions for a particular feature that parents would appreciate having access to on this site. Thanks

      Posted by admin | July 25, 2013, 9:20 pm
  4. I have so many negative things about this place I could write a novel I was there two years and it was hell. I too had no substance or drug abuse history. I went when I was 13 and returned home when I was 15. The staff who were with us on a daily basis and we spent the most time with did not have the cerifications to be working with children let alone a job that in my belief requires some experience with and education in the field of psychology. I have horror stories that could make some of you discusted to think this place is still in business and that admired TV professionals like dr.phil promote this place … So much to say but in a nut shell this place was worse than when I live in a third world country Russian orphanage as a child.

    Posted by Julia | July 29, 2013, 5:07 am
  5. I went to CCA and let me just say that most of these things are being dramatized. I appreciate what the place has done for me, and some people who didnt particularly like it seem to love bashing on the place. Really not that bad guys. I am glad I went. It changed my life.

    Posted by me | August 25, 2013, 12:31 am
    • How long ago were you there? Did you feel safe? Were you treated well?

      Posted by Cheryl | September 8, 2013, 7:08 am
    • I do not appreciate your attempt at silencing the people. on this page. The horrors of CCA should be known. It was emotional abuse, everyday. And I even saw physical abuse so do not tell me that, “Really not that bad guys.” It changed my life too, I’m still trying to escape from my depression this place sent me into.

      Posted by Ash | April 11, 2014, 7:55 am
  6. I went to CCA from 2001-2002 and everything said is true about that place. Although I chose to learn what I could from my experience (I had a good therapist, Linda) I had extreme nightmares for several years after I’d let and although I had some pre-existing trust issues, they definitely got MUCH worse after going there. You couldn’t trust anyone with your true feelings because it would hold you back from “moving up”. I managed to get through the program in 13 months because usable to put all my feelings and emotions in a box and just act like they wanted me to act but the dad thing is that I lost my ability to experience a lot of those emotions I was forced to suppress. I would never seems my child away no matter how bad their behavior. I have severe abandonment issues now on top of the severe trust issues.

    Posted by Jen | January 12, 2014, 8:07 am
  7. there are aspects of this website that I agree with, but there is also a lot of information left out. All these comments make it seem worse than it actually was. I was there for 22 months, graduated successfully from the program and got my high school diploma. I wouldn’t be where I am today without that place. It seemed bad when I was there but looking back it’s not as brutal as I initially thought.

    Posted by Lexi | March 28, 2014, 12:55 am
  8. I was able to for the first time in a long time buckle down and do what I was told and I got through the program in 10 months. Right when I got home I wasn’t able to stay on track, I wasn’t close to dying or anything but I could have gotten arrested or hurt. I just had trouble with authority and following the rules. Now that I have gotten my life back on track I realize that I might not have learned the reward that comes with following the rules and doing things the right way if I hadn’t gone to CCA. I know not everything was “fair” at CCA but I know I never saw anyone be put in physical harm. Staff was hardly ever rude to me but people in the “real world” have bad days too and in the “real world” you have to accept that they say something you don’t like and bite your lip. Maybe it was just all part of the lesson. But I wasn’t only relying on the lessonplan laid out by CCA to be what taught me everything, I was ready to learn and I took whatever I could from the place and the people there. There was only a small number of girls who weren’t trying to constantly find something wrong with being there, and I notice that those types of girls are the ones who look like they’re in a better state of mind now with their behavior and self-esteem. That’s only based on my generation and what I can see from their Facebook pages so it could be inaccurate.
    But one thing I didn’t mention that has played a huge role in me being able to get back on track since being home again is that I came to the Lord. Without doing that I’m not sure if I would have ever started using what I learned at CCA because I don’t know if I would have ever adopted an outlook on life that focuses on selflessness and modesty. I’m sure there are girls out there who are doing well without Christ, but He is what works for me.

    -Grace Feigley
    Graduated in 2011

    Posted by Grace | March 28, 2014, 11:17 pm
  9. I went to CCA for 6 months in 2009. I was submitted for a severe opiate addiction and never received proper care to detox. I was immediately put on 500mg of seroquel to treat my psychosis which was more prevalent due to improper detox and shock. I remember about the first month. The rest is a very hazy blur. Except when they changed my meds three different times, sending me to the behavioral health unit in flagstaff due to my instability. I enjoyed all three times they changed my meds, I got to leave that hell hole and go to a place where people gave a crap and I got to talk to my parents on the phone. I firmly believe I was just loaded up with pills to not create a disturbance; as I clicked back into reality after being home for a month. Now leading a successful life as a cook. I never received any of my belongings from the school. Only what I had in my backpack heading up to flagstaff.
    The staff were verbally and emotionally abusive, especially Janet Moore. The only staff member I found comfort in sw the part time night watch Kristine. Whilst on staff buddy, she would play board games with me when I couldn’t sleep. That place is so awful to the girls, all the ones who weren’t brainwashed returned to their old habits with a craftier skill. I would not shed one tear if that place burned down with nearly all of the Mercedes driving, money grubbing Mormons inside.

    Posted by Megan | April 20, 2014, 9:54 pm
  10. I was transported to CCA about a year from today. I remember that day like it was yesterday. I still lay in bed at night thinking of all the girls still suffering at this program. I read pretty much all of the above comments and it’s all true! Every single thing. I had a lot of medical issues while at my stay there like tonsillitis, a very severe ear ache and an infection in my mouth. Which all of was taken care of when I was at my worst! This program was very unprofessional! We were given punishment for mistakes like not wearing your shoes outside of your room or not pulling your hair up before dinner. One work hour for not pulling your hair up for a meal?
    Scheduled times to eat which caused a lot of girls constipation to where they would get sick!

    Posted by Nicole sides | May 17, 2014, 3:44 am
  11. I loved it and hated it. I’m not saying their methods of treatment were the most ethical or smart, but I did learn a great deal from that school. Lets put it this way, a few years ago I didn’t think I would make it to see my eighteenth birthday. I am now eighteen, I’ve been a high school graduate for a year, working at a job I love, have an amazing relationship with my family, and I know how much my life is worth. I would not have been able to accomplish any of that if I hadn’t been sent to CCA. If I learned anything from this place it is that everything in life is temporary. So you have to make do with what you got, make the best of a bad situation, and take away any lesson you can. Although I do still struggle with some of my preexisting issues, and some new ones as well, I at least know my life is worth fighting for… And I will survive. To all the girls that got sent there and had bad experiences, I’m sorry.

    Posted by Elli Raab | December 6, 2014, 8:51 am
  12. My experience at CCA

    Posted by Jenny Clift | February 6, 2015, 10:53 pm
  13. I was sent to CCA when I was 16 in 2006. Before I left I was a mess. I had no faith in humanity. I hated all adults and I was a manipulative little decietful child. I had a really hard time at CCA. I missed my family. I can rattle off all the weird and defeating situations I went through. But guess what. I graduated. I won. And now I can take on the world. Do I think their tactics work on most people? No. I had a worse childhood so adolescence at CCA made my childhood not look so bad.

    With that said there are girls who suffered. I watched crazy stuff happen. I watched girls steel the staffs keys and when staff wanted the key back they would start cutting their arms with the keys so staff restrained a girl in a sleeping bag tied to a chair in the main house. I was the only one who saw it because the poor girl cried for me and being on level four it was my duty to calm her down (please understand I operate from sarcasm). Anyway I witnessed her being restrained in an inhuman way. But I was on level 4 and almost out!

    Okay so things like that happened. I may be forever impaired because of what I saw happen. But I wasn’t like the other girls. CCA was not hell because I didn’t fight the system with brute. I defied the system by out smarting the system. But that was my attitude. In the second seminar I was labeled a crock of crap. For two days that was my name. Now no name someone calls me hurts because words and names are meaningless now. I see how this experience has made me a synical person. But. It’s honest. This place was hard for those who made it hard. I would never take a staffs key and try to cut myself. So u was never restrained. I would never jump off the balcony so I was not put on staff budy. I did steel a cell phone and got put on silence from my best friend for 3 months. But she is still my best friend so no real time lost. And we just passed notes anyway so…

    I out smarted the school. I left their stronger than I got there. So in some ways it worked. I don’t hate CCA. I just won’t send my kids there someday.

    Posted by Kaila Kraft | June 11, 2015, 3:21 am
  14. To let you know, I went to copper canyon when I was 16, I am now 20, happy and healthy. I can’t lie, a lot of stuff was wrong. Getting woken up by two strangers and being put into a car having no idea where you are going is the worst. Then, once you get there, you can’t talk to any of the other girls who just got there because they think youll make a run for it. A lot of girls definitely do that, but I was scared and wanted to talk to a girl who I could see was hurting just as bad as I was. You can’t even hug your friends or braid hair because they think you’re being lesbian and they don’t support that. I was lonely in there and ended up kissing a girl. A staff member started telling me how gross it was and laughing. What if I actually was lesbian? I would have been really hurt. Then, any time you write your parents, if you say you are the least bit unhappy, they say that you are trying to “manipulate” your parents into letting you come home. Yes, I didn’t want to be there, but me telling them that I was unhappy wasn’t to just get me to come home, but to get out of CCA in general. The first week never felt real every time I was woken up at 5 am… it was insane. The therapists werent that great and the schooling was absolutely horrible… the teachers are idiots who have power struggles and think they are better than you because youre a fucked up teenager who is in the place. I didn’t learn a damn thing at CCA. Aside from anything else, the schooling was by far the worst part. My teachers seemed to have some issues of their own. I think most of my success comes from me being completely removed from people at home and the life I was living that made me so depressed. It gave me time to think. The upside is that I made some friends who I will always have. No one understands what I have been through quite like the girls I went to CCA with. It helped me, but it was also one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. Its been 3 years and I still wake up crying from nightmares replaying the day I was taken there, yet I am not sure I would still be alive if my parents hadn’t sent me there.

    Posted by CCA Former Student | July 10, 2015, 4:59 pm
  15. While I realize that, depending on who you are and when you were at CCA and what house you were in, your views can be drastically different, I definitely saw a lot of fucked up shit while I was there (from 2012-2013). Staff had no real training as far as dealing with teens who are emotionally troubled, even suicidal. I was constantly told to “just deal with it” if I was depressed. Many of the “therapists” there are not actually licensed health professionals at all, yet were doling out treatment to hundreds of girls. Staff was emotionally abusive, often taunting girls, whispering about them when they though they couldn’t hear, etc. On a few occasions I witnessed staff use excessive force to restrain a girl, even going so far as to kick her (she was not being violent, just causing a scene). No matter the reason you were at CCA, no matter what level you were at, there was never any trust built up. There was the constant threat of being dropped a level, which left me and many others feeling hopeless, like I’d be there until I was 18. We were encouraged to basically tattle-tale on one another, making trusting even the other girls hard. In therapy I was made to retell my sexual abuse story in gross detail, which left me feeling horrible. In transition, there was an incident where, while I had been at Workshop 3 all day, the house mom and other transition girls left and I didn’t have a way into the house, and it was too dark at this point to try walking back to main houses, so me and the two girls who were with me just sat on the porch until they returned (they hadn’t left a note). When our transition mom returned, she yelled at us and we got in trouble for staying put, even though it was so dark you couldn’t see the stables. As far as medical/dental care goes, i was often told I was “faking my symptoms” even though I had a fever or had vomited, and that “no one gets sick this much”, despite the fact that if they’d only taken the time to check my medical history, they’d see I have had a very weak immune system since birth, and get sick several dozen times a year. I was told to “just drink water”. That was the nurse practitioner’s motto. I also witnessed on one occasion that a girl had a large cyst or abscess on her, and when the nurse looked at it, they told her they weren’t going to take ht to the ER. Eventually, after a lot of girls making a big deal, she was given proper medical care. As far as CCs (work hours) those weren’t as bad as I’ve seen some people describe them. Basically, you get woken up an hour early and you clean or dust. Occasionally they made you sweep the parking lot, which is obviously a moot point and was just mindless physical labor. Those are the major things I see as pretty bad. But obviously, the school is now under a new name, so I can’t speak as to whether it’s improved or worsened. I can’t say CCA itself taught me much, but the experience was definitely tough. It made me a lot less trusting, and kind of stunted me. I missed what I consider to be a very crucial part of life (my 16th year) and parts of my life haven’t recovered as a result, and while I do take some of the blame, CCA definitely played a part. Would I be dead in a ditch with a needle in my arm without CCA? Maybe. But I still don’t recommend treatment centers like this for people.

    Posted by Ashley | December 19, 2015, 9:15 pm

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  2. [...] her family about addiction and depression issues; no, it’s sending her away for a year to an allegedly abusive ‘troubled teen’ behavior modification program in Arizona, Copper Canyon Aca…. A program owned and operated by Aspen Education Group and CRC Health Group, which have a long [...]

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