Remuda Ranch – My review

I will share with an open heart our experience with Remuda Ranch Eating Disorder Clinic.

Our experience was not very positive. These are just some of the things I wish others had shared with us before we made our final decision. Had we know then what we know now, we would have brought our daughter to another place that would use a gentler therapy and more sensitive approach. I will only highlight our main concerns as 3 months of information would be excessive.

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My daughter was 16 when she was admitted to Remuda Ranch.  She struggled with anorexia. She was there for 3 months. Her case was considered “critical.” We were given all the paperwork to fill out before we came. We read the information. I asked a lot of questions on the phone before we finalized our decision. One of the questions I asked was “Do you use the Montreux – gentle approach with your clients.?” I was assured that did they did. The “gentle approach” is a very successful method of dealing with eating disorders that implements kindness, understanding,  a lot of affirmative support and gentle words.

We dropped our daughter off July 4th, 2008. Within  48 hours we were at the Phoenix Airport ready to head back to Indiana. While waiting for our flight our daughter Alex called us crying and frantic.

“Mom, they have taken half of my clothes away. It is like a prison here. Please come get me! Please Mom, don’t leave me here! Please Mom, I beg you – I will eat food, I’ll do whatever you ask just don’t leave me here.”

For 20 minutes she begged, cried and pleaded that we wouldn’t leave and that we would return and take her home.  I had to hang up because our flight was being called. I had to make empty promises and weak excuses. I felt a part of me die. We were very upset to receive such a call so soon after dropping her off.  It left us devastated and confused. Apparently it is protocol to go through the girls clothes upon arrival and separate whatever is not on the dress code list. It was not done graciously or in love. Shorts that are too short, or tops that don’t have the proper sleeve length are removed. Yet – strange enough – bikinis are allowed. Apparently we overlooked this detail when reading the information they sent us. It traumatized our daughter and left us feeling helpless and as though we had made a horrible mistake.

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A counselor was assigned to our daughter. He seemed to find delight in pointing out Alex’s weaknesses and faults. He seemed to find ways to discourage and dishearten her. When she would try to correct him if he had misunderstood her – he would become upset. There were some very good factors that he did bring out. He and the team were able to access some of the disfunctionality in our family. Things that we had never seen were exposed and we were very grateful to see this. Yet her counselor did not come across as a good listener or a gracious person. He seemed to enjoy intimidating Alex.

After a certain amount of time we were able to spend a weekend with Alex – with specific guidelines to help her eat in a healthy manner while away from the camp. When she came back her counselor once again seemed to find a way to beat her down, make her feel guilty and admonish her for not following the guidelines. We were with her. We took the time to explain that she in fact did follow the guidelines and we were very pleased with her sincere efforts. When we shared this with him during our phone counseling session he seemed to grumble some incoherent words. He liked control and was not happy when he didn’t have it – even with the parents. Anti-depressants were handed out. I was assured before we admitted her that they would never be pushed on her.

We believe that every other possible avenue of therapy should be used before someone – especially a young person – is administered anti-depressants. I have seen too many people and teens addicted to these and we certainly didn’t want our daughter to be another statistic. One afternoon Alex called us very upset.

“Mom, they are saying that I have to take anti-depressants. They said that everyone else is taking them and only me and another girl are not. Mom I don’t want to take them!”

Immediately I was on the phone with the head nurse. I was livid. I explained the situation and told her that I was promised this type of thing wouldn’t happen. She was caring and apologetic. After that they didn’t push Alex anymore about the drugs.

There were inconsistencies in the system. Alex had been preparing for a talent show before she left for Remuda and we asked if she could bring her guitar – a wonderful therapy and healthy outlet for anyone that is struggling with an eating disorder. She was told she couldn’t bring it – something about not having extra room for instruments.  Yet when we were there for our week-long visit with her we saw another girl practicing on her violin. When I asked about the inconsistency of the rules they said that this girl had a competition coming up. It made no sense.

The program has some positive sides. It was informational – yet my daughter felt there was way too much emphasis on food – what anorexics and bulimics think about all the time anyways. She felt there should have been more positive outlets to get their minds off of food, charts, calories and diet plans. Working with abused animals, developing new hobbies or implementing other healthy alternatives would have benefitted in a tremendous way.

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Alex often told us that several of the nurses were very stern. These girls are very delicate. One wrong word can drive them over the edge. A recent statistic put girls with eating disorders at the top of the suicide list in America. These girls beat themselves down for the least thing. They are broken people. The last thing they need is stern and militant nurses. These same nurses were often over-bearing, intimidating and demeaning. All nurses should be gentle and tender-hearted – or they shouldn’t be working in such a sensitive environment. On the day my daughter was finally scheduled to leave her counselor specifically told Alex to meet him at “The Cross” – a special place where prayer needs are posted and given over to the Lord.  She waited. He never showed up. Everyone in her previous circle of friends had abandoned her. She came to Remuda believing that her counselor would be a man of his word, trustworthy. He deeply disappointed her. She left feeling de-valued by him.

If we knew then, what we know now we would never have sent her.

Since that time God has done a beautiful work in Alex’s life.  She began working with abused animals and was able to get her mind off of her eating disorder and on those who needed her. She found a faithful friend that believed in her. She is now working on a 3,000 acre  dude ranch. She gives riding lessons, brings clients out on trail rides, helps to take care of 200 horses and meets people from all over the world. God has completly healed her of Anorexia.

Alex’s dream? To one day open a ranch for girls that are post-eating disorder. They would be working with abused animals.  She wants to call it Sunrise – because each new day gives us hope in Christ. It has taken a full 4 years for my daughter to recover from the trauma of Remuda.

For about a year she would have nightmares that she was still there.  It was not all bad. There was good that came from it. It exposed the faults and problems that were in our family that we were not aware of.  They gave us some good communication tools to better express our boundaries. Yet there are still times in a moment of fear Alex will say:

“Oh no, this is terrible. It feels like Remuda all over again.”

9 thoughts on “Remuda Ranch – My review

  1. I was just at remuda this past summer. Worst place ever with the exception of the psychiatrist Dr. Kirby she was loving caring and supportive. My therapist Kim was absolutely horrible very judgemental if she did not like you she would not work with you. When I was there I felt liked to and judged. I was coming for support and an environment in which to recover. I would not recommend this place to anyone.

  2. I was at Remuda in 2003. I finally went to counseling last year to recover from psychological problems after going to this place. They are after money. Doctor told my father that I was going to die if he did not send money for my treatment. they wanted me to stay longer.

  3. I went to Remuda some years ago and had a good experience. My insurance company was the one threatening to cut off the funding if I didn’t go on an anti-depressant. Remuda fought for me as long as they could, but eventually I gave in because I could not afford treatment without the insurance company.

  4. Do you have a recommendation for a good treatment center? My daughter struggled with anorexia last year and we sent her to treatment. While it helped with her anorexia she is now struggling with binge eating disorder and self harm. 😦

    • Tara, I don’t know of any good treatment center. Your daughter has wounds of the heart which she is outwardly manifesting through self-harm and eating disorders. Don’t focus on the food, focus on her receiving the therapy for her heart and what is causing her to act out in this way. I recommend that she and you read all my posts on The Balm of Gilead and The Armor of God. This could be the beginning of her healing process. I recommend finding a good Christian counselor that has an excellent reputation. Don’t stop until you find one. Standing with you in love and prayer.

  5. My daughter was at Remuda in December 2014 and our experience was not a good one either. We pulled her from the program within 2 weeks and brought her home. Now here she is in the same place emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Everyone seems to want to medicate her, and I’ve been standing firm with a “NO”. There has to be something else. I don’t know how to help her anymore. You mentioned a ranch that your daughter went to…I am currently looking for something similar. Any ideas or suggestions out there for an alternative to the typical treatment type centers?

  6. Wow, just read you post. My daughter recently returned from Remuda. They helped her a lot, but I do agree with a lot of what you shared. I think the main thing that helped her is that she was so afraid of having to stay there and worked at getting out of there asap. I stayed in the area and visited as much as I could, which did not make me a favorite there. I was told that my daughter and I were too close because she did not want to be left there. The nurse told her that our relationship was weird. I forgave the nurse because she had a lot of good things to say too!

    What a wonderful idea that your daughter has!! Definetly would be a help for girls in post recover!

    • Yes, they are very anti-family! But then want a whole week dedicated to having the girls spill all their secrets and apologize for ruining their families!

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