The Power of Skill-Building

Liz Walz, Program Coordinator

Slices of wood are stacked on top of each other in the middle of the woods, next to a path

This week’s equinox marks the turn of the season and the return of longer days. Life at the Ranch marches on with seasonal activities—collecting and boiling the last of the sap from the maple trees, welcoming new fluffy chicks who will be integrated into our egg-laying flock once they are grown, continuing to fell and strip trees for firewood, and planting seeds in the greenhouse—so exciting!

It’s safe to say that everyone who lives and works at the Ranch learns new skills. That’s part of the fun, and the work program is the heart of our therapeutic model. Recently, I asked residents and staff from each of the four work crews, “What is the therapeutic value of learning a new skill?” The words that follow are their wisdom:

“I’ve learned to use power tools to cut wood and I will use (this skill) later in life.”

“Learning to use the router gave me new knowledge.”

“I’ve learned to be present for many people and to handle the responsibility of being in charge and managing all the different parts. I’m getting better at not being mad at myself when I make mistakes. We all make mistakes.”

“Learning new things helps me be comfortable in my own skin and to be happy with where I’m at. It’s weird being away from family but here I can work on myself the way I want to work on myself. Become healthier, more observant. Take care of emotions. This will help me work on projects over time with friends and family.”

“Learning new skills builds confidence. Makes you at ease if someone else who is newer asks you a question. I learned the farm animals need to get used to us, so the way we approach animals applies to people, approach others slowly.”

“Taking care of animals made me realize I need to take care of myself better.”

“Expands your mind.”

“Boosts confidence.”

“If you develop a passion, it is of value to want to invest in something. It fosters commitment, consistency, and self-motivation that may be dormant.”

“Learning new skills opens up an entire part of you that you didn’t realize was there. A few months after learning the new skill, when it has become natural, it’s a whole new method of expression.”

CARF Accredited: Spring Lake Ranch programs are CARF accredited. The CARF accreditation signals our commitment to continually improving services, encouraging feedback, and serving the community.

Spring Lake Ranch is a member of the American Residential Treatment Association (ARTA). ARTA members are dedicated to providing extraordinary care to adults with mental illness.