ARC Experiential – How Academics, Residential, and Clinical Treatment work together

ARC Experiential

By Contributor


ARC Experiential is a term used to describe the way the Academic, Residential, and Clinical departments at Discovery Ranch work together to help students through experiential learning. Academic Director, Allison Anderson coined the term to describe the kind of integrated work that happens at Discovery Ranch. The concept is simple: students learn by doing things. However, simply doing things is not enough. Students need to be guided through reflecting on their experiences. At Discovery Ranch, well-trained staff, teachers, and therapists help students through this process. Engaging in meaningful experiences followed by guided reflection happens in every setting at Discovery Ranch.

Learning through Reflection

Significantly, students’ experiences shape who they become. When your son comes to Discovery Ranch, he will have a variety of new experiences. This includes caring for their own feeder cow, climbing across a ropes course, or going on field trips.  Experiential Learning and Experiential Therapy work in combination to ensure he is getting the most out of his experiences at all times. Your son will have time to reflect on his new experiences. Discovery Ranch staff (in all areas) take the time to have those conversations with your son that help to guide him through a reflection of his experiences.

An Integrated Approach

A major principle of ARC is that behavior never occurs in isolation. For example, a student might behave very well during meetings with his therapist and in the residence hall, but act out in school. However, if this happens, it is not only the academic department’s problem. In cases like this one, the entire team, including the academic, residential, and clinical departments would work together to find out why the student has problems in the school setting, and to determine a solution. The goal is that, by addressing your son’s behaviors across all residential, clinical, and academic settings, your son will find success across all settings.


Academic, Residential and Clinical services are all just separate and individual until you bring them together through the experiential learning model. By bringing the pieces together we are able to broaden the settings in which they are able to grow and better help each student prepare for success in the next step of their treatment.