Residential Treatment Center
History and Background Information
Avalon Hills Residential Eating Disorder Program (also called Avalon Hills and Avalon Hills Eating Disorder Specialists) is a behavior-modification program that opened in 2003. It is marketed as a Residential Treatment Center for teenage girls (11 and up) who struggle with an eating disorder. The program’s typical length of stay is over 12 months, and can be as long as three years.
The program operates in two locations, one for adults and one for teenagers. The adolescent campus is located at 7852 W 600 N, Mendon, UT 84325. The adult campus is located at 175 E 100 N, Logan, UT 84321.
Founders and Notable Staff
Benita Quakenbush-Roberts (now Benita Quakenbush) was the Founder, CEO and Clinical Director of Avalon Hills. She currently still works as the program’s Owner and CEO. She was married to Gary Roberts.
Gary L. Q. Roberts was the Founder, President and Director of Operations of Avalon Hills. He was married to Benita.
Tera Lensegrav-Benson is the current Clinical Director of Avalon Hills. Tera has been working at Avalon Hills since 2006. She is reported by survivors to be especially cruel.
Mike Hinds works as a Therapist at Avalon Hills.
Like other behavior-modification programs, Avalon Hills uses a level-system consisted of 5 levels. These levels are reported to be:
- Intake, Assessment and Treatment Planning: This initial phase consists of multiple components: a detailed assessment, orientation to the program, and treatment planning. The assessment includes clinical, personality, cognitive, physiological, medical and nutritional status. Another key element of this assessment process is the use of Quantitative Electroencephalogram (qEEG). The qEEG informs use of neurofeedback and biofeedback interventions.
- Awareness/Contemplation: In this stage, clients identify key factors that have led to the development and maintenance of their eating disorder attitudes and behaviors, including awareness of the psychological, biological, social, cultural, interpersonal and spiritual contributing factors if any. An interpretation with treatment staff of the findings from their qEEG or “brain map” typically occurs during this phase.
- Exploration/Preparation: Clients advance to the third stage of treatment when they are able to “acknowledge and have insight into their motivations for maintaining their eating disorder symptoms, take ownership of their choices, and are ready to explore the causal factors, meanings and consequences of their behavior.”
- Action: In this stage, clients have “decided that change is necessary and desirable. They are willing to experiment with new ways of thinking, behaving, relating and coping.”
- Transition Management: The fifth and final stage of treatment “focuses on preparing clients to leave the safety and predictability of the program and face the myriad of challenges that await them in the stressful, body-conscious and complex world to which they return.”
Many survivors have reported that Avalon Hills is an abusive facility. Allegations of abuse and neglect that have been reported by survivors include verbal and emotional abuse, untrained/unqualified staff, and excessive punishments.
January 2021: (SURVIVOR) “The multiple reviews stating that Avalon Hills treats the clients with disrespect is no mistake. Certain professional staff are cruel and disrespectful to patients. Like other reviewers state, if you are struggling, expect to be called cruel names and your character brought into question. Due to severe indigestion, I would vomit. Instead of looking into the medical cause of this (promptly diagnosed by a physician on discharge), I was repeatedly accused of doing it on purpose and was not listened to. Tera, the clinical director, is especially cruel, but seems to control everything. If she were fired, I believe Avalon Hills may be better. Also, they do not take a trauma-sensitive approach anyway whatsoever. I think Bonita had an excellent vision, so I think it’s sad that it has strayed so far. I don’t regret going, but only because of the other clients and certain DC staff who were exceptional.” – Harper (Google Reviews)
Decemember 2020: (SURVIVOR) “Please never send your daughter here. It has been 5 years since I was sent here as an adolescent and I have lasting trauma (!) from this place. I am in recovery through absolutely no help of the 13 months I spent here. I am a kind and gracious person but was told throughout my whole stay that I was manipulative and ungrateful. They will lie to, disrespect, and humiliate your daughter over and over again. While completely restricting what your daughter can say to you or anyone. This is the most awful place I’ve ever been and I beg you not to send anyone you love here. I know that it can seem endless and Avalon claims to be there for that but they will not help you. The only people I know who got better as a result of Avalon were solely motivated by the fear of being forced back into this kind of treatment (that won’t work for most people).” – Mary (Google Reviews)
11/29/2020: (EX-STAFF) “I actually worked for avalon hills and it was pretty scarring for myself. Upper management tried to act like they knew what was going on at the houses but they never actually worked in them. As a DC we were told that we didn’t matter to the clients recovery even though it was only the DC staff and nurses at the houses for the weekends. We were told that we could only call a therapist on the weekend if someone is in a life or death situation. I had one client who tried to punch another client and I was told to deal with it myself (it was on a weekend and I was told not to call the on call therapist) I wasn’t “officially” trained until about 6 months in. If one client didn’t follow the rules, the rules for the entire group would change. For example, one client wasn’t getting up before breakfast so because of that if everyone didn’t get up within five minutes of your first wake up call…you couldn’t shower for the entire day. They also tell you that you can go outside like 3 times a week but during covid no one was allowed in or out (except new clients that they didn’t even test for covid!!) I also heard that some of the neurologists were doing things that were unethical and they fired someone for speaking up about it. I don’t know if all of that is true, but I do know that she spoke up about something, and did get fired. Also one of my clients got the flu during the winter and a nurse that has been there for a long time told that client that she was “puking on purpose” even though her diagnosis was only anorexia with no past problems of purging.” – u/Hypemonkey27 (Reddit)
June 2020: (EX-STAFF) “I worked at avalon months ago. I was trained to treat the girls with disrespect and consequential authority. The supervisors on shift would waste time in the office between shifts to talk poorly on the clients, and they formed their own clique within themselves and would treat staff not within their circle with disrespect and pettiness on and off shift, and would rather belittle them for their lack of knowledge instead of train them. They would purposely and publicly tell the young girls that they dont deserve respect because of their age. The girls/women here are not treated with respect, nor given the treatment they deserve. Most staff employed here are there for the pay, not to help the girls in any way, so most things go unnoticed if they dont want to deal with it.” – Meg (Google Reviews)
5/25/2020: (SURVIVOR) “This ED treatment program was further damaging to mo me and increased my depression, anxiety, and ED behaviors. Adults are treated like young children. The program is highly punitive based in their approach. The staff (outside of therapists and dietitians) lacks proper training in eating disorders. I left worse than when I arrived by far. I have been to other programs and in my opinion this is not the norm for treatment and is by far the worst experience I have had.” – E.W. (Yelp)
8/10/2019: (FAMILY MEMBER) “This place scammed my family out of money and left my sister just as I’ll as when she came. They kept her there for over a year claiming a break through was imminent, only to tell us after 16 months that they were not going to be able to help her as this was a problem that would take years to fix.” – Lucy (Yelp)
Unknown Date: (SURVIVOR) “nice location. admissions will tell you anything to get you to come. what they tell you will often be far from the truth, once you arrive. you have to sign an arbitration agreement upon entering the facility. there is little to no privacy. it has been factually proven that (female) jail inmates have more privacy, freedom, and rights, than the patients at Avalon. Ask questions. Write them down, along with the answers, and who provided you with the answers. Don’t settle for generic, blanket answers. Ask to speak to former staff, to former patients, to patients family. Consider other facilities.” – Rachel (Rehabs.com)
HEAL Program Information – Avalon Hills
Avalon Hills Website Homepage (archived, 2003)