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The High Frontier, Inc.

Residential Treatment Center

The High Frontier, Inc. Program Information

Gender: Coeducational
Ages: 12 - 18
Grades: 6 - 12
Estimated Enrollment: 84
Length of Stay:
Program was founded in: 1976
Accreditations: Affiliations:

The High Frontier, Inc. Contact Information

P.O. Box 1325
Ft. Davis, TX 79734
Phone: (432) 364-2241
Fax: (432) 364-2261
School Contact: Semy Silva
Alternative Contact: Barry Blevins
Therapy Provided?: Yes

Program Description:

High Frontier utilizes a variety of cognitive learning strategies incorporated through a systematic group therapy approach known as Positive Peer Culture. High Frontier promotes wellness through challenging distorted thinking patterns while promoting opportunities for the young person to demonstrate their self-worth.

The High Frontier is a non-profit residential treatment center and school for adolescents between the ages of 12 and 18. The High Frontier is located in the Davis Mountains of West Texas, between Fort Davis and Alpine. The property includes approximately 450 acres that provides a beautiful setting for horseback riding, hiking and other outdoor activities.

The High Frontier was founded in 1976 and has used the Positive Peer Culture model since 1978. The property includes 10 cottages, a dining hall, administration buildings, a recreation building and outdoor recreation area, swimming pool, school classroom buildings, gymnasium, horsemanship stables and arena, and other facilities.

Our treatment program is intended for 12-18 year old males and females who may be experiencing a wide range of educational, emotional and/or behavioral problems. These problems include difficulty in family and/or peer relationships, mood disorders, externalizing disorders such as attention deficit, hyperactivity and oppositional defiant disorders, substance/alcohol abuse related disorders, attachment disorder, self-harming behaviors, anxiety disorders, and personality disorders. Students also typically have experienced setbacks and problems in school and may have been placed in a special education program.


The goals of the Horsemanship Program are to teach the range of skills necessary to be a capable caretaker and rider, to receive school credit for participation in the Program, and to teach responsibility and build self-esteem.

As with the Art Program, the Horsemanship Program is designed around teaching the necessary skills and, while not designed to be an equine therapy program, to have tangible therapeutic benefits.

The range of skills taught by our Horsemanship Director includes basic issues of care, saddling, riding and specific activities, e.g., rodeo events and participation in local ranch round-ups.

The therapeutic benefits are derived from teaching and learning responsibility through the care of horses and to build self-esteem by learning to work with horses and master the skills of riding.


The High Frontier provides a fully integrated therapeutic and experiential milieu conducted within the framework of Positive Peer Culture (PPC), a values-based and process oriented model utilizing a system of cognitive strategies and interventions. PPC strives for long-term change by teaching and internalizing core values of pro-social and positive behavior such as altruism, responsibility, acceptance, self-worth and autonomy. Treatment teams actively develop individual and group strategies and interventions that challenge a student's distorted thinking patterns based on negative behaviors and values. These strategies and interventions are designed to teach students the benefits of accepting mature, proactive, and pro-social responsibilities. The development of a positive value system based upon social interest is the most important tool for problem resolution and will achieve long-term change more effectively than promoting compliance based upon external rewards and consequences.

By "integrated" we mean that all aspects of the therapeutic and social milieu revolve around the core concepts of PPC and that the individual, group and family therapy sessions are integrated into the milieu of PPC. In other words, all types of social interaction, including therapy sessions, formal education and even recreation share a commonality of purpose: to teach a positive value system based upon the concepts of altruism, responsibility, self-worth, acceptance and autonomy. Formalized group therapy sessions act as a teaching catalyst for the therapeutic work that permeates a student's social day and serve the milieu versus the more common practice of the converse being true.

In Positive Peer Culture, the students are an integral part of the helping process and are fully incorporated into the social and experiential environment. The development of altruism, responsibility, self-worth, acceptance and autonomy, and the internalization of these qualities, requires the student to be an active part of the helping process. These qualities are developed as the treatment process exposes and provides insight into the student's previously unsuccessful efforts to discover identity, status and a self-concept based upon negative behaviors. The exposure of a problem in a highly supervised environment is the most effective way to address the problem, and thus allows students to show a problem as an opportunity for help versus something to be avoided. The process takes place in a social and experiential manner at the time and place of occurrence. Through this process students learn that the acceptance of responsibility is the better road map to their desired ends.

Furthermore, integrating the students into the experiential and social milieu recognizes and capitalizes on the fact that students are modeling their behavior most strongly after other peers. The influence of peers exists and is paramount to each student. To ignore this reality is to jeopardize achieving long-term change in any student. The High Frontier brings this tremendous power into the mainstream of the therapeutic process so it may be adult-guided and influenced towards positive ends. Young people entering the program quickly learn their new role rises above simple obedience; and their role models are staff as well as other students. Students are asked and taught to become of service to their peers and to take a meaningful role and responsibility in helping others. As they learn how to be of value to others, students develop the self-worth necessary to establish and maintain better relationships, behaviors and goals.

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