7 More Ways Spring Ridge Is Nothing Like Cruel Instruction

Orange sunrise with 7 more ways that Spring Ridge is Nothing Like Cruel Instruction

Cruel Instruction’s Appaloosa Mountain Girls Academy vs. Spring Ridge Academy

There were so many differences between Spring Ridge and the institution in Cruel Instruction, we had to split it into two posts. Here are 7 more ways that we’re different. 

Difference #1: Students have romantic relationships and are physically separated in different units.

Trusting, supportive relationships are a vital element in improving mental health. They are critical as people work through their nonworking patterns of behavior so that they can feel safe in risking authentic behaviors and interactions with others.

Occasionally, students will engage in a romantic relationships on campus. This is generally not based on trust and support but rather as a way to continue inauthentic, nonworking behavior patterns, avoid taking new risks, and external validation.

When students come to Spring Ridge to get assistance with their anxiety, depression, and nonworking behaviors, they need to take the time to really dive in and get to know who they are without the distraction of a romantic partner. The vulnerability required in a therapeutic environment must be protected from relationships that can use and abuse that vulnerability.

Suppose we feel a relationship is toxic, whether romantic or not. In that case, we ask students to take space from one another to see how that impacts their therapeutic work. Symptoms of a toxic relationship would be dishonesty, avoidance, codependency, controlling behaviors, obsession, and relapse.

Although we have separate dorms and help to create some distance, we cannot prevent students from interacting with one another.

Difference #2: There are rooms for punishment where students are locked. The rooms have no windows, and students write Bible verses as schoolwork/punishment.

There is no room on campus where a person can be locked in. We never isolate students as punishment, and all rooms where students can go have windows.

The only time a student may be left alone is if they ask for it. In that case, we would help them find a place indoors or outdoors that is comfortable, well-lit, and safe where they can have some time to themselves. For safety reasons, we would check on them every 15 minutes. Only students can use this as a personal, preferred intervention, and they can take themselves out at any time.

The only exception is if a student has shown to be an imminent danger to others and will be on a safety protocol away from other students but under the supervision of at least one staff member until they are transferred to a different level of care. This rarely happens because we are very specific in our admissions criteria and would not accept a student with a violent history.

Spring Ridge Academy does not subscribe to or promote any specific faith. We encourage students to explore their traditions or their own understanding of spirituality. 

Difference #3: Students wear uniforms with assigned numbers written on them, including at bedtime.

We currently have a uniform based on a traditional school uniform for the school day, including a skirt or khakis and a polo. The uniform is theirs. They are not numbered, but we ask students to put their initials on the tags in case they get misplaced. Once school is over, the students can wear their own clothes.

Our students don’t have identifying numbers. So if a student needed an ID number for some reason, like SAT or ACT testing, we’d have to make one up.

Difference #4: Parents rarely visit the facility, and the students don’t leave until they go home permanently.

We love visitors! We were so sad when we had to close our campus (because the Health Department and state government required it) due to COVID.

We want parents on campus. If you are a potential parent, I understand that a Zoom tour is much more cost-effective, but you need to make sure that any place your child will live is what it says it is. We don’t have a pool, and we wouldn’t advertise that. That is a false

Please visit if you are a current parent and haven’t been here. We want you to sit in on classes, go to psychoeducational groups, and eat from the cafeteria. We want you to participate in our weekend activities and see how our staff interacts with

We have monthly academic breaks where we want students to be with their families, either in the area or at home, depending on where you are in the process. This is every month, and it’s an expectation. These breaks are up to 10 days long because we want our students with their families.

It’s great if a student is doing well here, but we need to test that back in the home environment, and we need to test it often. That’s how real work gets done and how it gets done fast.

Difference #5: Length of care depends on how long an insurance company will pay for care.

Our students average 14 months in our program, and we are working hard to get insurance reimbursement by partnering with Insurance Fight Club.

But the treatment comes first. We believe strongly in the “least restrictive care,” which means if you don’t belong at Spring Ridge because you are a healthy functioning adolescent or just need some outpatient services, we will not keep you here. Instead, we focus on what you need to succeed when you transition out there. For some, that doesn’t take as long, and others need more time.

Families are responsible for the tuition regardless of what insurance pays. We think insurance should pay more, and we are advocates for comprehensive mental healthcare in the same way people receive comprehensive physical healthcare. We believe it should all be better, but baby steps are necessary.

Difference #6: Students who disagree or are disruptive are restrained and given “booty juice.”

We do not use physical or chemical restraints at Spring Ridge Academy for behavior modification. Additionally, we do not have injectable sedatives on campus.

As a best practice, our staff is trained (from therapists to teachers to coaches) in the Crisis Prevention Institute de-escalation model. This training does include physical restraint, but the ONLY time we would use that is if someone was about to get seriously injured or die, and if a student goes to that state of mind regularly, they don’t belong at Spring Ridge Academy.

Difference #7: Food is withheld as a punishment.

Never. Ever. Students may choose not to eat, but we offer 3 meals and 3 snacks a day. In addition, fresh fruit is always available. Denying food is unethical, and it hinders the therapeutic process. Students can’t do well in school if they don’t fuel their bodies and brains.

Can students walk into the kitchen whenever they want to whip up a snack? Sorry, no. That’s just not how that works from a food licensing perspective. We also don’t have a menu to order from; it’s cafeteria-style. Sometimes I don’t like what is for lunch (yup, the staff eats the food too), but that’s about my personal preference (green peas are awful, and you will never change my mind). But our excellent cooks do a great job at creating levels, so I can say no to the peas but yes to the brown rice and tofu. Also, we have a salad bar that rivals some of the best I’ve seen at restaurants. A lot of food is available, you just have to choose to eat it.