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Our Program

In addition to our therapeutic and academic offerings, we have an experiential education program that can provide education credits. This program can include learning in social situations and environments that help teach new behaviors, responsibilities, and awareness while fostering awareness"

Snowboarding Recreation Therapy

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"The two most powerful words when we’re in struggle:  me too."  - Brene Brown

It’s all about RELATIONSHIPS.


Therapy is administered by licensed professionals and qualified staff. We provide therapeutic intervention in the following three forms:

  • Family

  • Individual

  • Group

Our milieu includes the Why Try Model, a program that was originally developed as a one-on-one counseling tool. The WhyTry, visual analogies provide a relationship-focused and practical guide for discussing personal challenges and solutions to problems that youth face at home, at school, and with their peers.

Sundance Canyon employs a variety of therapeutic modalities

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Child Parent Relationship Therapy (CPRT)

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

Mindfulness Substance Abuse Therapy (MBSAT)


To ensure the highest level of appropriate therapeutic traction possible with individual students and their families. Traditional talk therapy has its place, but at Sundance, we know that our strength-based approach to therapy utilizes a system of relationship-based therapies that engage our students in a variety of ways.

Recreation and Service activities are used to teach life skills in areas such as relationships, communication, teamwork, self-esteem, self-awareness, accountability, and responsibility.


Involving students and families in challenging and unpredictable tasks helps them think in new ways about old problems, identify what needs to be changed in their lives and relationships, and take the decisive steps to achieve more happiness and success in life.

Four Wheeler Drivers

Recreation EDUCATION

may include





Snow-boarding and Skiing

River Rafting


Service Projects

Utah Food Bank
Ronald McDonald House
Humanitarian Center
Habitat for Humanity
US Forest & Park Service
Local Neighborhood Clean-up
Service to the elderly

We use only Professional and Master level therapists. Students are assessed upon admission, in order to devise the Treatment Plan that will most support the student on his path to success.

Counseling at Sundance is a collaborative approach. Therapy also involves program directors, necessary staff, and parents or guardians.

Student and parents will have to complete therapy assignments before moving on to the next therapy phase. The positive approach to youth development is not about crisis management and not about stopping or preventing problems. However, the program is about investing wisely in our youth, increasing their exposure to positive, constructive activities, and instilling values and skills that will guide them the rest of their adult lives.

Therapy will focus on External and Internal Assets

Family Support
Positive family communications
Service to others
Adult role models
Positive peer influence
Creative activities
Equality and Social Justice


Planning and decision making
Interpersonal competence
Cultural competence
Resistance skills
Conflict resolution
Personal Power
Sense of purpose

Family Therapy

Family therapy usually occurs over the phone or by utilizing virtual technologies, but parents are welcome to attend in person, if available. Therapists schedule weekly family therapy sessions. These sessions provide the opportunity for families to work through sensitive issues together and to support each other, prevent relapse, and plan for returning home after treatment.

Family Connection online

Individual Therapy

Each student receives a minimum of 60 minutes of individual therapy each week. Multiple check-in may also be scheduled as needed. The goal of individual sessions is to build a relationship of trust, discuss issues, goal setting, and find personal resolution

Youth Counseling

Group Therapy

Traditional group therapy is facilitated by master’s-level therapists. Groups are held daily. Additionally, each student is assigned to specialty groups that specifically address their individual therapeutic needs.

These specialty groups include, but are not limited to, the following:

Group Therapy session
  • Attachment

  • Recovery/Substance Abuse

  • Grief/Loss

  • Emotional Regulation

  • Self-Esteem

  • Relationships

  • Recreation

  • DBT

  • Music

  • Life Skills


Sundance Canyon Academy maintains that education is foremost in the interest of many of our students. It is our mission to assist them in the continuation of their education while away from the home.


We provide an accredited and useful curriculum which enables our students to continue on their education path towards successful graduation.

The classes at Sundance Canyon are designed for students whose plans may include college entrance. However, students with learning disabilities or who need a specific learning style addressed can be accommodated in our small and individualized classes. Students who need additional help outside of the classroom can meet with their teachers on an individual basis or may be assisted by our teacher’s aide who is trained to help with homework management, test preparation, organization, and work-load prioritization.

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Academic counseling is part of the school process at Sundance Canyon:

  • Assisting students who are experiencing academic difficulty

  • Working with the treatment team on personal problems that may impact academic performance

  • Assisting students with the college search/application/admission process

  • Making available information on scholarship, financial aid and volunteer opportunities

  • Helping choose appropriate courses in light of high school graduation requirements as well as college admissions criteria

  • Exploring career options

  • Discussing post-secondary plans; college, work, life skills

  • Providing communication to the students and parents on school progress and performance, 4-year academic plans, and the college admission process

Students participate educationally on a daily basis (Monday through Friday). Classes include but are not limited to: Courses offered by Sundance Canyon Academy using the Alta Independent Curriculum.

Teacher/Staff will assist students in all areas of education when requested.

Student daily and weekly progress reviews are available at

Work completed is logged into the student file and grades given in accordance to quantity, quality, and timeliness of work completed.

Male Student

Classes provided include, but are not limited to








American/World History


Writing Composition

Reading Comprehension

Physical Education

Health Science

Sundance Canyon Offers

  • Certified teachers and instructors

  • 1:8 teacher – student ratio (plus individual tutors)

  • Nationally accredited curriculum through AdvanceED

  • Individually Administered Educational/Vocational Assessments including: School/Education Survey, Woodcock-Johnson R Test of Cognitive Ability and Test of Achievement and Career Interest and ability survey

  • Progress reports

  • Direct group instruction and Independent Study

  • Year round school with English, Science, Math, Social Studies, and Vocational education, Enrichment classes in art, music, sports, and service projects.

  • SEOP (Student Educational Occupational Program)

  • Commitment to learning

  • 100% credit transfer for college preparatory courses

  • (5) additional academic credits for completion of our program (Psychology, Health, Physical education, Music, Culinary Arts)

Studying on the Grass

Schools, Colleges & Universities that have accepted our students

American University
Arizona State University
University of California-Berkeley
University of West Virginia
Loyola University
University of Utah
University of Pugent Sound
University of South Carolina
University of Nevada Las Vegas

Culinary Institute-Florida

Le Cordon Bleu
Pomona College
Fullerton and Cerritos Junior Colleges
New Mexico Military Institute
Art Institute-Atlanta
Broadview University
Eastern Michigan University
United States Army and Navy



Life Skills are an essential part of our program. Students engage daily in a healthy routine including school, therapy, recreation and service.

Students advance in the program through a Relationship Management System.

Students are accountable for the following:

  • Compliance

  • Attitude

  • Personal Hygiene (Self and surroundings)

  • Interactions

  • Group Participation

  • Academics

  • Personal Chores

  • Responsibility

Student’s accountability will be congruent with the therapy levels and progress within the program. We provide a consistent and effective balance of therapy and self-management.


There are 6-phases in the relationship management system.

Running Shoes

1. Orientation Phase
2. Motivation Phase
3. Reality Phase
4. Climbing Phase
5. Character Phase
6. Leadership Phase


Sundance Canyon Transition is a specifically designed program for students who have reached the last 2-phases of the program and are anticipating their graduation within 30-60 days. The Transition program is specifically for students who need to implement their treatment in real-life and practical situations.

Transition allows our students to continue to finalize their treatment goals by providing greater responsibility, greater freedom, and less clinical ‘hand holding’. During Transition, students have more control over their time and afforded more privileges in anticipation of going home and implementing the Home Agreement.

The transition process empowers a continual relationship between students, staff, and parents. It also creates a support network of family, friends and positive role models who may continue to serve as “coaches”, carefully coaching students as they develop greater functionality in managing themselves, resources and time.

The goal of Transition is to prepare our students to go home and be successful committing to the home agreement and practiced living. While many of our students are anxious to go home with thoughts of what may lie ahead of them, the transition process can help them understand how to employ the skills that they have developed for continued success.

Life Skills

Life Skills

Outdoor experiential education extends far beyond recreation. It is a critical element of our therapeutic approach. The discoveries our students make about themselves in therapy – lessons of self-confidence and capability — are reinforced in adventures on the weekend and on week-long excursions.


For some boys, outdoor experiences are key to unlocking the door to their resistance and self-doubt.


Physically and metaphorically, we believe in getting outside, getting outside of the limits we set on ourselves. This is the premise of outdoor experiential education.

There’s nothing like rafting the rapids of a river for teaching students how to think quickly and work together. Or finding the next handhold on a rock climb for overcoming fear.


Outdoors, our students become aware of what they’re capable of. They discover new depths of resilience and confidence and take their potential to new heights.

Climbing to the Top


Activities that build self-confidence

Facilitate therapeutic healing

Pushing physical and mental limits

Practice cooperation and connection

Safely balanced risk-taking


The expedition program provides boys with opportunities that challenge them within safe, non-threatening limits. Our outdoor experts are skilled not only in outdoor sports, but in creating experiences that intentionally foster growth. Weekend activities and extended trips include rock climbing, mountain biking, backpacking, skiing, snowboarding and river running.


Each adventure is carefully designed, offering a mix of personal therapeutic opportunities and activities that build connection and cooperation.


Often, physical outdoor challenges free boys up to admit fears more readily. Most experiences also hold lessons that can readily be extended to “real life.” Climbing, for instance, is a great metaphor: It’s scary. You can come off the wall – but be caught. It involves teamwork, trust, communication, and problem-solving. And when you succeed, you have other people cheering for you at the top.

It’s important to note that SCA expeditions are low-risk in nature, but carry a high perceived risk, which is a great recipe for building confidence and self-esteem. They are adventures that require both physical and social risk taking. Learning to ask for support from one’s peers – and accept it – is an important and valuable skill. At the same time, each student can see firsthand how his choices and behavior influence the goals of the group, and how his support might be just the thing that helps another student succeed.

Seasons of Learning

Skiing Down the Slope
Backpacking in the mountains
Sitting by Campfire
Water touring

Our weekend expeditions and extended trips change with the seasons. We are fortunate to have all of Utah as our big backyard. Winter adventures find students skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling through a glade of aspens on a powder day. Hiking and camping trips are great for learning about self-reliance and one’s “place” in the astonishing scale and beauty of the wilderness. Summer rock climbing, canyoneering, and whitewater rafting are all about dynamic, ever-changing and challenging environments, complete with obstacles, decision-making and fun.

SCA Expeditions are not about “athletics.” There is no emphasis on competition, winning or superior sports skill. Nature is an equal opportunity playground. And our program is designed to allow our students to set their own goals, achieve their own successes, and tap into undiscovered strengths.



Sundance Canyon Academy is proud to offer a Culinary Arts Program to all our students. The Program teaches students food preparation, management, and hospitality. Many of our students are also afforded opportunities to interact with professionals in the business.

Our commercial culinary kitchen is structured to teach culinary arts to students as well as to provide a team building environment. We focus on technique while teaching our students to prepare culinary works of art. Our students learn to work together while creating delicious meals.

Our hands-on culinary courses at SCA are rewarding and effective in developing organizational skills, sharpening communication skills, and promoting group work.

Within your first few weeks at Sundance, YOU ARE COOKING! Whether you are preparing pizza, baking cookies, sautéing vegetables or grilling steaks, you are gaining the necessary knowledge to enter the culinary field WHILE HAVING FUN!

Our culinary instructors are well trained. Completion of the SCA culinary program gives many of our students the opportunity to prepare for a lucrative career while fulfilling academic requirements.

Students are encouraged to earn their Food Handlers permit during their stay at Sundance Canyon.

Students will learn about the following topics while enrolled in the SCA Culinary Arts Program:

Chef Preparing Pizza


Kitchen and Food Safety

Culinary Terminology

Cooking and Baking





Knife Skills








live. learn.

Our motto reflects our commitment to each and every student.


We understand adolescence can be difficult and often painful.


At Sundance Canyon we help our students identify their strengths and develop purpose in their lives as they look to the future with a strong foundation and leadership structure to guide them.

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