The Ranch: Residential Treatment at our Therapeutic Farm
Life at the Ranch in Cuttingsville is centered around upkeep of a diverse Vermont farm.
Each day residents and staff, in small groups, participate in all the work involved in keeping a community of nearly 70 people going. There are generally four crews which are engaged in five hours of work each day. Our farm crew takes care of our cows, sheep, chickens, and pigs, and runs the haying operation every summer. Our gardens crew tends our vegetable and flower gardens, lends a hand in the kitchen, oversees our year-round farmers' market booth in Rutland, and does most of the holiday preparation. The woods crew busies itself in our 700 acres of forest, felling, limbing, bucking, splitting and hauling the wood we need to heat our buildings and run our substantial maple sugaring operation. On the shop crew, residents build and repair furniture, fix tools, and keep our engines running. Other projects include sewing, cleaning, painting, landscaping, and all kinds of other work required to keep the Ranch running through all seasons.
For many, the Ranch is the first and most intense taste of community in a world that, more and more, shifts people farther and farther apart. The idea of shared efforts and accomplishments is alien, leaving more than one resident to wonder aloud what good the community is doing them. It's a question answered by time and acclimation to living life among others who know and respect them: community is the antidote to the isolation of illness and addiction. To depend on others, and have them depend on you, is an experience often under-appreciated in a quick-fix society.
We stress community involvement from the moment residents arrive at the Ranch, asking them to brainstorm ways that they can contribute. One might be a fitness buff who can advise other residents on exercise and staying in shape. Another might be a meditation enthusiast who invites others to share the practice of creating a quiet space in the morning. Every member of the Ranch community can contribute in some way, whether by making bowls and napkin rings in the pottery studio, or offering extra help in the kitchen. And every small contribution adds to the vibrancy of the community as a whole.
The Spring Lake Ranch approach is one of teamwork. Residents have a clinical team leader, a house advisor and a resident advisor that make up their team. In weekly Review Meetings, they support the resident in creating an action plan with goals and strategies specific to their needs. Through working with a consistent advising team familiar with each resident, and with input from the community, residents learn to recognize and manage the symptoms of illness and the hallmarks of addiction, acquiring the tools to reduce the impact of these devastating forces on their lives.
Over time, the resident becomes more responsible for recognizing triggers and managing the stresses of life. The more involved and informed a resident is in the course of his or her treatment, the more likely he or she will be able to use the Spring Lake experience beyond the Ranch to realize the dream of a richer life.
We employ Mary Ellen Copeland's Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) for both mental illness and dual diagnosis. This is a system of guided self-discovery, helping residents proactively manage their own wellness.
For people struggling with addiction, the Ranch offers a safe sober living environment, insulating people from the triggers that might otherwise pull them off their paths, giving them a chance to move into sobriety with a solid base in place.
Though our approach is largely humanistic, we recognize that psychiatric medications - used properly and thoughtfully - are an important tool for wellness. We handle all types of medications in close concert with our consulting psychiatrist, who is available to meet with residents and their advising teams weekly and is on-call at any time of day or night.
Prevention being the best medicine, our trained medical staff, clinical coordinator, clinical team leaders, and advisors work closely with each resident to help them manage symptoms, sidestep emergencies, and prevent hospitalization.
We recognize that residents need time for their own creative pursuits, to take the time to find a sense of self often lost through illness. At Spring Lake Ranch they have the opportunity to try new things or rekindle old passions.
The Ranch setting lends itself naturally to outdoor pursuits - hiking, snow shoeing, cross-country and downhill skiing, swimming, camping, canoeing. To add to the variety of physical activities, there is a gym with a newly-renovated fitness center, tennis court, basketball court, and game room with billiards and table tennis. For residents whose interests bend in other directions, there are facilities for pottery, yoga, music, sewing, knitting, and art, as well as a wood shop where folks can try out their skills.
With input from the Recreation staff, residents frequently plan and lead organized activities both on and off the Ranch. Access to events in Rutland and nearby towns include AA and NA meetings, theatre, concerts, movies, yoga classes, dances, and sporting events, as well as a casual cup of coffee with friends. We are fortunate to be able to offer equine therapy for an additional fee for those who are interested.
The Ranch is a working hill-farm located approximately 10 miles Southeast of Rutland, on the spine of Vermont's Green Mountains. Named for the idyllic spring-fed lake, Spring Lake Ranch is inspired by the nature around it, the 700 acres of forest and pastures from which we derive so much.
Each house is small, housing from two to eight residents. While common areas and bathrooms are shared, resident bedrooms are single and private, and are simply but thoughtfully furnished, often with Ranch-made furniture. All houses are staffed with House Advisors who not only sleep in the homes, but work on crew, offering residents round-the-clock support from people who really know them. Each house is more than just a place to sleep; it is a smaller culture within the Ranch, with regular house meetings to address issues, and house events like trips to town or movie nights. Nutritious and delicious meals at the Ranch often feature meat and produce from our own farm and gardens, and are prepared and served in our communal dining room.