New Programming for people on the Autism Spectrum/Neurodiverity

Recovery from Depression in a Supportive Community

Depression can be devastating for those suffering from it, as well as their families. But there is hope. At CooperRiis, we focus on healing the whole person – not just treating symptoms. We rely on an approach that takes into account each individual and their journey. We meet people where they are, and we employ an evidence-based model for recovery that works.

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Evidence-Based Treatment that Works


We work with the resident to find the best dosage to reduce symptoms without incurring harmful side effects such as over-sedation, sexual side effects, and mental fogginess. The goal is to minimize symptoms without sacrificing overall well-being.


Psychotherapy is an integral part of recovery. Each resident is assigned a therapist who works with them one-on-one. Our group therapy sessions are about learning resilience by being in a group and learning to speak up.


The skills learned in group therapy are applied naturally and casually in our community.

Having kind, supportive people always around experiencing similar challenges is incredibly helpful to our residents. Our residents are immersed in a recovery culture where everyone is heard, understood, and never judged.


Dedicated families help support strong recoveries.

Although we strongly encourage family participation, the resident guides and informs our communication with family members. We encourage our residents to reach out to their families in healthy and beneficial ways. Ideally, the resident and family participate together in recovery, and everyone benefits.

Personalized Treatment

We help adults living with mental illness with a personalized approach to treatment. Each resident’s recovery journey includes:

  • An Integrative Recovery Team of an integrative psychiatrist, therapist, and recovery coordinator.
  • Optimized medication use
  • Optimized nutrition through a balanced diet and supplements
  • A supportive Residential Community
  • Holistic treatment through the seven domains of a whole, healthy person
“The work you all are doing at CooperRiis is TRULY life changing…After years of denial and many rock bottoms, our son finally asked for help. When he did, CooperRiis was there. Our son spent 4 months at the Farm and learned to accept and manage his illness and life. He was treated with respect and dignity and not as a mental patient, making all the difference.”
A Grateful Parent
Two young women make a yoga pose together touching palms

The Seven Domains of a Whole, Healthy Person

The Seven Domains are a vital part of the CooperRiis approach to recovery and treatment plan. Throughout a resident’s journey at CooperRiis, we make sure to treat the whole person – not merely their symptoms and address each domain according to the individual resident’s Dream Statement.

The Seven Domains are:

Successful Treatment of Depression at CooperRiis

Evidence-based clinical services and a therapeutic community approach supported by extensive research and clinical experience support that the CooperRiis model of recovery works.

During a ten-year study, data collected shows individual recovery progress within the CooperRiis residential program based upon therapeutic community principles and a Seven Domains Enhanced Recovery Model (Young, Schactman and Snyder, 2014).

Our program helps residents achieve their best life by tailoring our services to their needs. We honor each person’s recovery journey by trusting them to work with us toward their best state of health and happiness.

A 10-year study shows:

  • Reduced symptoms of depression
  • Gains in functioning, emotional well-being, sense of purpose, and hopefulness.
  • Over 80 percent of our residents pursue employment, volunteer service, or school while in our community programs, and increasingly manage independent living.

2019 Alumni Survey Results

1 %

are engaged in either competitive employment, volunteering, or going to school.

1 %
are living independently with roommates or on their own.
1 %
report they have had no psychiatric hospitalizations.

Our residents choose work that inspires and best matches their interests, including caring for the animals at The Farm. Other meaningful work includes cooking and growing plants in our greenhouse.

Since 2003, CooperRiis has helped people recover from depression with a holistic approach to healing personalized for each individual.

Frequently Asked Questions

Sadness is a part of life. Occasional feelings of melancholy, listlessness, or ‘the blues’ are just a few of the many feelings we experience as healthy individuals in response to our world. Clinical depression, however, is different and is considered a serious mental health condition. A Major Depressive episode is defined by an incessant feeling of intense sadness and lack of interest in formerly enjoyable activities that go on for an extended period. Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) impacts both mood and behavior. People with Major Depressive Disorder often have trouble performing and participating in everyday activities and sometimes feel as if life isn’t worth living.

Major Depression is surprisingly common. The Journal of the American Medical Association states that the lifetime incidence of depression in the United States is more than 20-26% for women and 8-12% for men.

The median age for the onset of clinical depression is 32 (U.S. Census Bureau Population Estimates by Demographic Characteristics, 2005).

Types of Depressive Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – depression is directly caused by the time of the year. It occurs most often in the winter months when sunlight is not as readily available, typically going away in the spring and summer.

Persistent Depressive Disorder – depression that lasts for two years or longer.

Psychotic Depression – depression accompanied by psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia

Postpartum Depression – depression that develops in the weeks or months after childbirth.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) – depression experienced by women prior to the start of each period. Other symptoms can include fatigue, anxiety, mood swings, change in appetite, change in sleep patterns, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and feeling overwhelmed.

‘Situational’ Depression – usually a short-term, stress-related type of depression that develops in response to a traumatic event. Common events that can trigger situational depression include the death of a loved one, divorce, and illness. Situational depression is also called ‘stress response syndrome’.

To be diagnosed with major depression, you must be suffering from five or more of the following symptoms for two weeks or longer, and at least one of the symptoms must be loss of interest in activities or a depressed mood. Symptoms may vary depending on what kind of depression has been diagnosed.

  • Feelings of sadness and/or irritability
  • Loss of interest in once enjoyable activities
  • A significant change in weight (loss or gain)
  • Changes in sleep patterns – trouble falling asleep, insomnia, or the need to sleep more than usual
  • Feeling and appearing restless and agitated or slowed down
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • Inability to focus/difficulty in thinking
  • Thoughts of death or about suicide

(Adapted from DSMV)

Other symptoms that are commonly seen in depression but not part of the diagnostic criteria include negative thinking with an inability to see positive solutions, irritability/lashing out at loved ones, social isolation, and difficulty making decisions.

Medication for Major Depressive Disorder

The medications used to treat Major Depressive Disorder are called antidepressants, and there are several antidepressants available. We work with the resident to find the best dosage to reduce symptoms without incurring harmful side effects such as oversedation, sexual side effects, and mental fogginess. The goal is to minimize symptoms without sacrificing overall well-being.

Supplements, such as nutraceuticals, vitamins, minerals, and plant extracts, are also used as a part of the treatment. In some instances, the dosage of an antidepressant can be reduced because the supplements have such a positive effect on symptoms.

Getting the right medication at the best dosage is a huge concern, but it is only part of the treatment plan at CooperRiis. We find that a combination of medication, psychotherapy, exercise, community involvement, and other interventions is most effective in treating the whole person.

Psychotherapy for Major Depressive Disorder

For the treatment of any challenge, CooperRiis takes a holistic approach. We don’t focus on the diagnosis, we focus on helping. What can you do? What does sound good to you? How can we best help you? Some of the most effective evidence-based therapy modalities for treating major depressive disorders include:

  • Group and Individual Therapy
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) A solutions-oriented form of talk therapy that helps individuals challenge negative and distorted thinking and change destructive emotions and patterns of behaviors. CBT is the root modality at CooperRiis.
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) provides clients with new skills to manage painful emotions and decrease conflict in relationships. DBT specifically focuses on providing therapeutic skills in four key areas: mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.
  • Emotion Regulation Therapy (ERT) involves understanding and labeling emotions, reducing emotional vulnerability, and decreasing emotional suffering.
  • Motivational Interviewing is a counseling method that helps people resolve ambivalent feelings and insecurities to find the internal motivation they need to change their behavior. During Motivational Interviewing, the therapist asks questions and uses reflective listening skills. The resident drives the session, and the therapist is listening for cues to go deeper. It’s a wonderful technique to get to the root of things without an agenda.
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a form of mindfulness-based therapy that theorizes that greater well-being can be attained by overcoming negative thoughts and feelings. ACT looks at character traits and behaviors to assist in reducing avoidant coping styles. ACT also addresses commitment to making changes and sticking to goals.
  • Compassionate communication (also called nonviolent communication) teaches how to communicate feelings without blame or criticism clearly and empathetically receive/listen to how someone else is without hearing blame or criticism. It helps individuals understand their own needs and recognize that others’ needs may be different.

Group Therapy

Our group therapy sessions are about learning resilience by being in a group and learning to speak up. The groups are small and interactive, and there is a lot of sharing and hearing other people’s stories, which encourages empathy and compassion. We find that this human experience can be incredibly helpful for those with depression. People begin to see that they are not broken and that other people have similar issues to their own. After being in group therapy for a while, residents begin to see themselves in a different light. Self-criticism begins to shift to the recognition that they are survivors and that they are not damaged. Not only do residents realize that they can emerge from depression, but they can also support others.

  1. Residential treatment of major depression at CooperRiis begins when the resident arrives at CooperRiis and is met with compassion by our caring staff and other residents. Depression almost always means isolation. When residents arrive, they step back into a socialized life. We are very gentle and help to ease the resident into life at CooperRiis. We work with individual residents to find most helpful for them, rather than imposing a challenging agenda, we empowerer residents to be an essential part of their recovery team.
  2. Soon after settling in, residents meet with their team, including a therapist, a recovery coordinator, and our psychiatrist. All residents participate in a full evaluation in which they give a history of their lives, symptoms, and illness. We want to get to know residents and develop a full picture of what is troubling them – low mood, trouble with motivation, disruption in sleep, decrease in planning, changes in appetite, etc. – as well as what treatments they have had in the past, and what medications were most helpful.
  3. All residents meet with our Integrative Psychiatry Director to discuss how medications can contribute to their recovery. We must know about the resident’s treatment experiences, both negative and positive, to find the most helpful medication plan.

Interested in learning the next steps to recovery? Please contact our Admissions team and we’d be happy to discuss the recovery journey.

Within weeks of being a part of our community, residents begin smiling more and making eye contact. Residents have expressed that they feel like they can breathe a little easier because everyone is so supportive and encouraging. Although it seems simple, making friends and connecting with others is a huge part of recovery. When people feel connected to others, they no longer feel isolated, one of the most devastating parts of depression.

This connection with people and the soothing elements of our property, including animals, a lake, trees, opportunities to work on the land, etc., is a great break for the nervous system. There are opportunities for quiet and contemplative space, as well as communal spaces to interact with others.

Along with living in a community, our residents learn how to work in a community with others. Residents spend about half their day at CooperRiis on a work crew. The work crews provide structure and purpose. Residents receive guidance and support from other people while developing transferable skills that they will use for the rest of their lives. There are several crews — kitchen, garden, woodshop, animal, greenhouse, and art crew — all of which contribute to our community.

CooperRiis recognizes that people are not their diagnoses and that recovery is a multifaceted journey unique to each person. True recovery and eventual thriving involve far more than a one-size-fits-all prescription. That is why CooperRiis addresses every single facet of our residents’ lives.

Residents’ families are an essential part of their treatment team at CooperRiis, and we truly enjoy working with families. People with depression need a stable support system to continue to live a full, healthy life once they reintegrate into the world. To support the resident’s recovery, we strive to strengthen the entire family unit. Family support of someone with mental illness can reduce the rate of re-hospitalization by up to 75% over a three-year period (SAMHSA). Strong families help support strong recoveries.

Although we strongly encourage family participation, the resident guides and informs our communication with family members. We encourage our residents to reach out to their families in healthy and beneficial ways. Ideally, the resident and family participate together in recovery, and everyone benefits.

Some of the ways we support families are:

  • Each resident has a family liaison/Recovery Coordinator
  • Educating families about how they can best support their loved one
  • Regular family meetings
  • Family education weekends were held twice a year on our campus, but because of COVID 10, we are currently offering it only virtually.

Our College Program is designed for individuals whose college experience has been interrupted or inhibited by mental health challenges like depression. The College Program integrates educational services and supports with our powerful approach to mental health treatment, so residents can keep attending college while staying at CooperRiis.

Learn more about our College Program here.

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We treat adults aged 18+ with depression.
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