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Friday, August 29, 2014

Starting in the Classroom

Sending a teenager away from home to attend a prestigious boarding school in preparation for their college career requires a great deal of sacrifice from families.   International families often struggle with the same issues in addition to complications that cross-cultural education will encounter.
At Cedar Ridge Academy we understand the complex nature of cultural divide and work at breaking down the walls that separate foreign students from American culture.

We are proud of our uniquely large population of professionals who have lived abroad resulting in a broad range of staff who have bilingual proficiencies.  Our academic team uses their firsthand knowledge when working with our international students in an effort to eliminate any cultural barriers that would otherwise impede educational goals.  One way in which Cedar Ridge Academy prepares our international students for future successes in their American educational experience is by enrolling our students in a course designed for the development of educational and professional skills. 

This course is designed around the objective of preparing students beyond the classroom and to compete in today’s modern world.  The course emphasizes the importance of good communication and identifies
methods for improving that vital skill. Application of these skills will be used in collaborative projects and used in peer group discussions where they can further develop the speaking and listening skills to succeed in college.  By the end of the course students are well versed in crafting professional documents which may be used in the admission process for universities or may be used in career portfolios.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Perfectly Set Apart for International Students

Cedar Ridge Academy sets itself apart from other private schools to international students by offering a flexible but rigorous curriculum designed specifically to enhance academic pursuits whether that comes in the form of accelerated learning or personal life skills which include: increased motivation, confidence, autonomy, physical fitness and hard work. Our learning environment allows the academic team to tailor a specific learning plan to meet the needs of each individual student.

The entire Cedar Ridge experience is dedicated to encouraging and supporting students along their own path to academic mastery and the personal insight required for future success. Our goal is to prepare students to be proactive and successful in their transition from home to college. Some of the ways we approach these goals are the following:

1) Blended Learning and self-paced academics - Students at Cedar Ridge Academy have a blend of academic experiences including: traditional teacher lead instruction, one on one teacher tutoring, and "online" class instruction that can be watched repeatedly and or paused so the student can ask questions, or look up information.

2) Academic Mastery - Students must complete each assignment, quiz, and test with a minimum score of 80% before being allowed to move forward in the curriculum. When a student scores less than 80% they are required to repeat that assignment, quiz, or test.

3) Integrated Therapy - Students at Cedar Ridge Academy have the advantage of onsite professional Therapists to help students explore success beyond the classroom.

4) Diet and Exercise - Cedar Ridge Academy integrates dietitian planned meals and snacks helping to ensure your students nutritional needs are being met. Cedar Ridge Academy students have weekly Shotokan Karate classes and scheduled Physical Education classes during the school day. The students also have a variety of extracurricular sports they can participate in including basketball, golf, volleyball, and fast pitch softball.

Discoveries about how the brain can be stimulated to create new neurons (neurogenesis) indicate that exercise is highly beneficial for such development. In order for this neurogenesis to occur, one or more of three conditions must be present; and here at Cedar Ridge Academy we focus on providing all three requirements daily. The first of these conditions is "exercise," not just a few minutes of exercise, but a sustained level of exercise. The second of these conditions is "novelty." When the brain is presented with novelty for a sustained length of time, new brain cells can be triggered to form. Lastly, the condition of "enrichment" can stimulate neurogenesis.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Raising Energy Levels from Fear to Love

Written by: Rob Nielson, LMFT

In my younger years teaching karate I contemplated the meaning of “Master”, a title given to martial artists for their skills and knowledge. Deciding I would be involved in the discipline of karate throughout my life, becoming a “Master” for me would mean that I master my emotions. I would strive throughout my involvement with karate to continually live as stress free as possible and endeavor to stay positive. Though I don’t consider myself a master yet, I am certainly a lot closer by actively working on this goal.

As a hypnotherapist working with clients, I concluded that “Love’ was the most positive emotion and “Fear” was the most negative. (This marked the beginning of me developing the “Fears Chart” used at Cedar Ridge Academy.) Certainly, there are no limits to the magnitude one can feel love or the intensity of feeling fear. The goal of moving away from fear to love would focus on reducing the intensity of fear (anger is a form of fear) and increasing the levels of positive emotions in the people I work with.

We conducted a student workshop during the month of July which focused on raising energy levels (from fear to love) and I am again confronted with the power that our fears have over us. For many of the students, we adults as well, endeavoring to feel more gratitude will trigger discomfort stemming from past experience. An example would be someone trying to be nice hoping to be liked and then having to deal with someone else’s anger resulting in feeling hurt. They then use anger as a way not to feel hurt. Indeed, my observations are that many students responded to wanting to raise their energy levels will become vulnerable, get triggered and then act out in various ways. I believe I noticed this somewhat after my goal of raising awareness and hopefully motivation to work on more positive emotional energy.

One of the assignments during the workshop was for parents and students to focus on emotions and the effects emotions have on one’s mind and health. Through the use of a few YouTube videos, discussion and written assignments an exploration of openness and attitudes of the students was conducted. Likewise we asked parents to give input about how they felt regarding the pursuit of the emotional health of their son or daughter respectively.

The two YouTube videos are Water Consciousness & Intent and Rice Consciousness experiment.
One video watched during the workshop showcased how emotions will affect water crystal formation. This concept is still controversial and the discussions among students and parents were rich with content. The other YouTube video(s) were on the experiment of how thoughts affect rice. We conducted our own experiment with rice to test the theory but found our replication lacked the controlled environment.

Student workshop week was a great success in exploring the emotions and how they may be affecting other aspects of our lives consciously or unconsciously.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Cedar Ridge Academy International Boarding School | Introducing Matthew Call

Matthew earned his B.S. in Marriage and Family Studies and his M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy at Brigham Young University. After graduate school, Matt worked for about six months as a therapist in residential treatment with adolescent boys, before joining the clinical team at Cedar Ridge Academy.  Matthew’s research interests include attachment processes and family therapy with emerging adults. He primarily uses cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, and strengths-based therapy approaches in his clinical work.  He works closely with our highly experienced clinical staff in order to understand and integrate the therapeutic approach of Cedar Ridge Academy.
Newest Therapist, Matthew Call

Matthew is a native of Utah and with his free time enjoys cooking Thai food, mountain biking, racquetball, camping, and taking pictures all over Utah with his new wife.  Already accustomed to the Uintah Basin region, Matt is settling in quickly.

Cedar Ridge Academy Therapeutic Boarding School therapists are specifically trained and equipped to work with troubled teens, both boys and girls.  Our therapists have a combined experience of over 50 years. They are the respected leaders of the overall Cedar Ridge team and are dedicated to our students’ academic excellence.  Cedar Ridge Academy therapeutic boarding school integrates education and therapy in a comprehensive, collaborative manner in order to promote the most beneficial results for our students.

Through modeling and teaching we guide youth in a process of positive behavioral change as they acquire the skills and self-knowledge needed to form healthy relationships with others and utilize their individual inner strengths to become mature, well-balanced, productive persons.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Shotokan Karate - Black Belt Challenge

By Rob Nielson, Clinical Director & Chief Instructor

        "The Ultimate Aim of the Art of Karate lies not in Victory or Defeat but in the                 Perfection of the Character of its Participants." - Gichin Funakoshi.

Cedar Ridge Academy offers a karate training program that I call the "Black Belt Challenge."  From its inception, Cedar Ridge Academy has promoted training in Karate as a means of assisting our students' growth. I have long felt a strong motivation to utilize Karate as a means of helping further the physical emotional and spiritual growth of those who participated in the discipline of Karate.  For those who wish to train intensively, the Black Belt Challenge offers a greater developmental opportunity. 

Any student who regularly trains in karate develops increased self-discipline, heightened self-confidence, respect, and an increase in self-control. In addition, exercise in the morning prior to school calms the students and improves their mood. Vigorous exercise is known to increase both serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain, neurotransmitters associated with feeling better. 

Exercise actually creates brain derived neurotropic factors that promote the creation of new nerve and brain cells (neurogenesis). We all are capable of growing new brain cells when the conditions are right.
Cedar Ridge Academy therapeutic boarding school Karate
Rob Nielson instructing a karate class.
Sustained exercise, one producing a light sweat is appropriate for stimulating neurogenesis. Ideally, the workout should last a minimum of an hour and a half, or one ultradian rhythm cycle. All three of these conditions are present in a properly conducted Karate class creating an enriched environment that generates team spirit (Ki) and a positive peer culture.  Combining these characteristics with the "novelty" of learning new motor skills, presents optimum conditions for neurogenesis to occur.  Traditional Karate training stands out as being uniquely designed for this type of neuronal growth. 

Recent research now connects aerobic exercise with neurogenesis in the hippocampus region of the brain dealing with spatial memory, navigation and the ability to stay on task, resulting in improved memory and cognitive processing skills.  Karate is specifically good for stimulating development in the cerebellum. The cerebellum is responsible for voluntary motor movement, balance, equilibrium, and muscle tone. Also known as the "Little Brain," the cerebellum plays a role in cognitive functions such as attention and language and in some emotional functions such as regulating fear and pleasure responses. Karate specifically benefits students in treatment by helping them function better neurologically.
         "To search for the old is to understand the new." - Funakoshi Gichin  
The legacy of mindfulness in Karate training is very deep and much of what seems like formality in Karate has deep underpinnings in Zen concepts. Due to lack of understanding, many contemporary martial arts schools overlook the value of Karate-do or the way of Karate and how it incorporates mindfulness extensively in the form "Mushin Mind."  Mushin Mind, sometimes referred to as “mind/no mind”, refers to a state of mind that is free from thoughts of anger, fear, or ego. Developing Mushin Mind involves conditioning the mind to attain a non-judgemental state.  
Therapeutic Boarding school Cedar Ridge Academy Karate Class
Beyond the physical activity, our students learn the bigger lessons involved in the art of karate.
"As a mirror's polished surface reflects whatever stands before it and a quiet valley carries even small sounds, so must the student of Karate render its mind empty of selfishness and wickedness in an effort to react appropriately toward anything he might encounter.  - Master Funakoshi



Thursday, July 10, 2014


Written by Robert Nielson, LMFT, Clinical Director at Cedar Ridge Academy

Sexually active/promiscuous girls should have proximity to members of the opposite sex when attending a therapeutic program!
To some, this statement will seem a little counter-intuitive.  When considering placing a daughter with promiscuity issues into a treatment program, many parents might disagree with my opening statement.  People may ask, why send a daughter to a place where problems with boys is one of the primary presenting issues among the girls?  Why should boys be anywhere close to a daughter who doesn't seem to be able to use good judgement when it comes to the opposite sex?  Actually, without boys around, girls struggle to resolve their issues and have no opportunity to acquire and practice a new skill set for relating to boys.

I have over twenty years of experience working with girls in a therapeutic setting.  During the first few years of my career in this field, I worked at an all-girls program.  More times than I could count, I strongly wished that I could find some boys to attend the group meetings.  I was working with a population of girls who mostly had been involved with one or more "bad" boys.  Despite the fact that they had been cheated on and deeply hurt these girls still seemed attracted to the boys who would cause most parents to cringe.  It would seem that after being deeply hurt and mistreated, a girl would readily come to the conclusion that certain kinds of boys are not capable of sustaining a healthy relationship. More often, girls recovering from unhealthy opposite sex relationships have a difficult time with this concept.  Helping girls recover from unhealthy relationships and directing them towards boys who are capable of empathy and caring becomes a central focus on therapy.

What drives girls to be prematurely sexually active is rarely a high libido.  They are looking to feel accepted and valued.  Loneliness and low self-esteem are common underlying features in girls who become promiscuous.  A common recurring theme with these girls is that they have an impoverished support network. They have few, if any close girlfriends.  the vast majority will say that they feel more comfortable with boys rather than girls.  What they are really saying is that there is a sense of uneasiness toward other girls.  Many grew up without a father figure.  When I ask most of the girls to list the kind of qualities they they want to see in a boyfriend, they struggle to identify any and, in fact many of these girls have never learned to discriminate good and bad qualities in the opposite sex.  They lack the social enrichment that comes from a variety of positive interpersonal contacts.  It is this lack that needs to be addressed if these girls are to develop the confidence in themselves that they need in order to seek out a positive opposite sex partner.

The more these girls can experience enriched interpersonal relationships with both genders, the more likely they are to expect good qualities in an opposite gender relationship.  Developing a rich experience of healthy friendship is one of the best assurances that these girls will choose wisely in seeking out a boyfriend.  Having a good peer support system helps mitigate the need for a boyfriend as a means of staving off loneliness.  That's why a structured, well-supervised co-ed program meets the needs of sexually active/promiscuous girls better than an all-girl program can.

Girls thrive in an enriched environment of healthy interpersonal relationships.  Girls who avoid developing healthy relationships are almost always avoiding some discomfort or insecurity.  Perhaps they haven't developed the skills necessary for positive peer interactions.  Helping these girls develop positive peer skills requires that they interact with boys.  The sagest environment in which they can develop positive peer skills requires that they interact with boys.  The safest environment in which they can develop these skills is one in which they are well-supervised and taught how to relate more positively to their peers of both genders.

These girls need to learn how to notice qualities and traits in the opposite sex in order to better predict the possibility for a healthy relationship with a boy.  They need to learn how to discriminate between a good prospect and a bad prospect for a positive relationship.  A structured environment provides opportunities for practice in honing skills of perception and judgment without the risk of a negative outcome.  Cedar Ridge has worked successfully with this type of girls' issue for eighteen years, keeping girls safe and helping them grow in their relationship skills.