Therapeutic Approach


Like a giant jigsaw puzzle, each activity from ranch work to recreational play is therapeutically designed to help the young man uncover his potential, understand the consequences of his choices (past and future), and discover his desire to lead a fulfilling life.


Young men participate in daily activities that build upon the principles they are being taught during their stay at the ranch. Each young man participates in weekly seminars (Arbinger). The principles of each seminar are then built into the activities of the week. Wranglers (trained staff with the boys 24/7) help the boys see the principles in action during the day and then review those principles with the boys at the end of every day during “Trail Time.” Each young man keeps a journal to track his feelings and thoughts as he progresses through the experience. The journals are used during individual therapy to help set goals and follow each young man’s treatment plan.

Cowboy church, group therapy, and work projects are all coordinated to help the principles taught that week take root and become part of their behavior. Simple activities such as making a rope halter for his horse, building a toolbox, participating in round-ups, fixing a fence, welding a rack, or visiting a planetarium are all a part of the therapeutic puzzle. Each communicates life lessons and positive self-esteem building experiences. Young men learn to approach difficult tasks as challenges to be overcome and conquered instead of obstacles to escape. They learn to deal with failure, emotional struggles, frustration, and the challenges of life. They develop the tools to handle adversity and to “Cowboy Up!” Working with horses, they experience a new world of seeing themselves. It is more than riding and caring for a living creature. They struggle to communicate with the horse in structured activities. They face fear and learn to control their anger and emotions. They work with stubborn, obstinate horses that won’t listen or follow instructions, and even rebel. They learn to calm the creatures and to get them to pay attention and to respond to positive pressure. They learn to get the horse to willingly choose to follow. They learn about free will and choices. They learn about themselves! Horse sessions are debriefed and principles discussed.

The boys are encouraged to write the experiences.


Arivaca Boys Ranch is a complete program, a culture – it is a “Way of Being.”

Ten months of training, learning, trying, failing, succeeding, working, eating, sleeping, playing, riding, walking, talking, listening, crying, laughing, thinking, writing, reading, and praying. The result: Men of Integrity!

As well as a carefully tailored daily schedule of structured and meaningful work and activities, our Therapy program consists of 4 Elements:


1. Individual Counselling


You will receive one session a week with a licensed professional therapist. This therapist will be trained to incorporate the daily experiences of the program into your life. He will help you make the connection between real-life principles and the principles learned in the Equine program.


2. Group Therapy


Each week you will join with your “family” group for a session led by a licensed counselor. This provides a chance to develop communication skills, cooperation, relationships, empathy, and understanding, develop anger management skills, etc.


3. 'Trail Time': Journal Writing & Reflection


Each evening includes a “trail time” to review the events of the day with a staff member, write in a journal, and resolve any conflicts within the group. This time is lead by a Wrangler (BHPP). Each Wrangler has been trained in Arbinger Principles and receives ongoing training and supervision from our Clinical Director. Self-reflection is important in the healing process and in building healthy relationships. 

4. Equine Program


There are many ways in which horses are used to help people, from handicapped children to hardened criminals. Our Equine Program is much more than a “petting zoo.” Although there is value in caring for another living creature, our program is based on a personal working relationship between a young man and his own horse. Each young man is assigned a horse to care for, build a relationship with and work with. Because of a horse’s instinct to survive and interact socially, he is very sensitive to his environment and he will become a mirror of the young man's emotions and feelings.


Through exercises in natural horsemanship, clients learn to communicate on the horse’s level and develop a trusting relationship in which you can lead the horse without force or coercion. Through this process, he learns more about himself and his personal relationships with others.