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Guiding Principles & Values



Inclusion & Right to Leisure

Holistic Healing & Health Promotion




Philosophy of Practice

EmpoweRanch provides inclusive, accessible, holistic health promotion and healing through comprehensive therapeutic recreation services and natural sanctuary to the Metro-Phoenix area. This proactive approach ensures that everyone is included in our services, regardless of their current life challenges. The programs provided are tailored to fit each individual's preferences, congruent with the humanistic perspective. We value optimism, right to leisure, and autonomy, encouraging growth and goal achievement through self-awareness, respect, and a strong, trusting rapport between the client and therapist. Improved self-efficacy, identity discovery, and improved independence are goals which we strive to achieve with all of our clients, regardless of any limitations or challenges he or she may have.

EmpoweRanch and the Leisure & Well-Being Model

EmpoweRanch was created with the Leisure and Well-Being Model in mind. This unique model, created by Carruthers and Hood, focuses on identifying and enhancing a client's strengths rather than focusing on reducing deficits. There are four main components that make up the theoretical basis of this model:

  • Positive psychology

  • Humanistic perspective

  • Ecological perspective

  • Strengths-based approach

Positive psychology plays a central role. This is a branch of psychology which focuses on using strengths and virtues to enable people to develop constructive and life-enhancing feelings and behaviors and to thrive in their lives and their communities. The humanistic perspective is the view that individuals are capable of growth and change, and they desire to fulfill themselves as well as demonstrate concern for others. The ecological perspective refers to the view that people are interconnected with all systems in their environment and that individuals' growth and change occur as a result of interactions with those systems. Environment includes the community, neighborhood, social institutions, family, friends, and other people that the clients come into contact with. Finally, the strengths-based approach is a planning approach which represents a shift in service provision from focusing on the problems, deficits, or disorders of clients to emphasizing the strengths, resources, and capabilities of the clients, their families, and their communities.

So, rather than focusing on what a client can't do, this model supports focusing on what the client can do and how to build on those strengths. It emphasizes the importance of developing resources throughout all domains and enhancing the leisure experience in achieving optimal well-being.

In reflection of the ecological perspective, we recognize that there are important factors beyond one's control which can influence the way a person thinks, feels, and behaves. These environmental factors can range from friends and family to society as a whole. We also recognize that there are elements of one's environment that he or she can control, in addition to the reaction to the environment. Barriers may be presented, but we aim to empower clients to overcome those barriers. By taking this contextualized approach to planning of services, clients will have a better opportunity for achieving their goals.

In order to ensure optimal health, a holistic approach is necessary; this contextualized approach is a crucial component of providing holistic service. Environmental and circumstantial factors must be taken into account when striving for balance between the mind, body, and soul. Services will empower the client so that he or she may address these factors appropriately, leading to positive outcomes and progress and away from harm.

Through support of values such as autonomy and right to leisure, inclusion is a top priority of therapeutic recreation services. People with disabilities or limitations will not only be empowered to become active and self-directed in their involvement in society, but changes need to be made in society to improve accessibility, normalization, integration, and the availability of supports and resources. We are addressing these challenges through community education and outreach as well as by providing an inclusive, nurturing environment at our facility.

Lastly, fun and enjoyment are valued at the heart of therapeutic recreation services as they aim to enhance quality of life. Whether it's planting a seed or riding a horse, our guests will be offered intrinsically motivated activities to ensure value of therapeutic recreation services. At EmpoweRanch, we believe that satisfaction and enjoyment of the activity is a goal of service.

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.
— John Muir, A Voice for the Wilderness (1901)

Unique therapeutic intervention potential using comprehensive enrichment programming based on client needs and desires

  • Animal Assisted Therapies
  • Adventure Therapy
  • Horticultural Therapy
  • Meditation, Community, Healing, & Therapeutic Gardens
  • Challenge Course
  • The Pondering Pond
  • Urban "care farming"


"HORSEE" Program (Horsemanship, Outdoor Recreation, Service, and Environmental Education Program)

TRAIL Optimization Program

(Therapeutic Recreation Adventure Interventions for Life Optimization Program)