The Curriculum at Amity Circle Tree Ranch
Circle Tree Ranch utilizes the Extensions curriculum authored by Naya Arbiter and Fernando Mendez representing six decades of cumulative work with Therapeutic Communities (TC). Circle Tree Ranch is a therapeutic community providing residential substance abuse treatment services where students explore the root causes and consequences of their drug addiction, alcoholism, and other addictive behaviors. We are unique among drug and alcohol rehab programs, using “community as method” as treatment for substance abuse. The drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs provided by Circle Tree Ranch emphasize the crucial role of community, friendship, and family in recovery. In the therapeutic community, assumptions that promote global changes in lifestyle and identity include the individual developing new roles, being public, becoming a participant, and developing personal accountability.
Curriculum volumes have been successfully used in therapeutic communities for two decades to effectively motivate students to pursue growth and learning. Circle Tree Ranch helps individuals to explore all realities, causes, and contributing factors which result in chemical dependency and addiction. The whole-person or holistic treatment approach focuses on a person’s physical, behavioral, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. Positive outcomes from drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs that have utilized the curriculum have been extensively published in book chapters and professional publications. Much of the material contained in the series has been successfully used by the authors in training professionals in 21 states to implement and/or improve treatment.
Material addresses many of the factors contributing to substance abuse including trauma, grief, domestic violence, assault, dysfunctional families, abandoned children, disease, loneliness, failure and more. The intent of the curriculum is to help students accept and reconcile the reality of their life experiences. Students build bridges back toward a healthy lifestyle and healthy relationships. The curriculum does not merely lead students to live successfully in a treatment center with all of its attendant jargon, but to live successfully in the world.
“We grow through our dedication to learning. We learn to listen and we listen to learn. A ‘learning’ person is alive; a ‘learned’ person is dead. We cannot integrate what we have learned unless we can teach it. We can’t keep it until we give it away.”
Self-help Restorative Paradigms: Includes introductory 12-step and basic family work, and reduces prejudices regarding the variety of recovery paradigms so that students can avail themselves of all useful recovery systems. Family Dynamics: Promotes an awareness and understanding of social and emotional development, especially in the context of family networks. Moral Development: Identifies conditions necessary for moral growth, conscience development, and personal responsibility. Exercises engage participants towards personal growth. Emotional Literacy: Promotes development of emotional intelligence so participants can authentically and successfully navigate through "normal" social situations and relationships. Students study the negative emotional reflexes that they developed that promote relapse and identify antidote messages and behavioral patterns to practice.
Thresholds of Change:
Treatment Readiness Curriculum
Modules promote treatment readiness rather than develop specific expectations regarding a particular therapeutic community. The curriculum modules focus on the essential elements that underlie all therapeutic communities.
Modules develop motivation to participate by reducing denial and guiding self-examination in a non-threatening manner. Students are moved toward increased self-disclosure and participation, and prepared for more extensive personal work. Credible role models embody a view of "right living" that promotes the healthy life experience.
“Within community we develop authentic relationships based on personal authority, trust and demonstration. We learn to affect change without violence, and to contribute to society from a position of dignity.”
Origins of Restorative Paradigms: The concepts of paradigms, paradigm shifts and paradigm paralysis are explored first in general, and then applied to personal recovery. Each participant must examine, challenge, and experience a shift in their own paradigms regarding addiction, criminality and the recovery process.
Circles for the Beginner: The objective of this curriculum is to introduce participants to the basic theory of encounter groups in a non-threatening manner prior to their participation in group circles. Importantly, this curriculum defines a common language for encounter groups amongst participants.
Family Dynamics: This curriculum is intended to begin the introspective process of examining how current social skills (or lack thereof) were formed and developed in the context of the social environment during formative years.
Resentment, Rationalization, Resistance, Reaction & Perseverance: The curriculum explores both personal and global rationalizations (i.e. destruction of the rainforests), and identifies positive and negative uses for resistance. The lives of Malcolm X, Chico Mendez, Henry David Thoreau, and Gandhi are studied for their positive demonstration and the contributions that they made to society. Perseverance is studied from the perspective of character development.
Vocabularies of Violence & Affection: This curriculum develops the theme of emotional reflexes that result from stress and conflict. Violence and violation wear many masks and stand in stark contrast to the vocabularies of validation and affection that we are capable of. The material is divided into two parts: 1) Conflict and violation, and 2) Reconciliation and restoration.
Emergence: Frequently addicts are assigned labels laden with emotional rhetoric. Declared to be "hopeless," these people often have as much faith in what they have been labeled by strangers as the strangers have in the labels given. This curriculum examines the issues of fear, promises, and clarity, and invites the emergence of the authentic self. It is for people who have hurt others and hurt themselves. It is for people who have run away and never gotten far enough. It is for those engaged in the struggle of moving from Winter to Spring and for those who help them.
Tending the Heart’s Garden: This is a woman-centered curriculum for both women and men. Tending the Heart’s Garden examines the changing roles of women in the last hundred years, as well as the need for role development in the feminine aspects of character. It aids in the identification of past negative roles, and helps students to examine sexual stereotypes. The curriculum uses Springtime as a metaphor for the growth and re-birth process that takes place in transformation and recovery after the “winter” of addiction.