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November 9th, 2019

What’s it like to spend the holidays in wilderness?

Alumni Student Laney, C., shares how holidays in wilderness therapy were both meaningful and memorable.

November 8th, 2019

Morgan Seymour Contributes Article to OutThere Colorado

Adolescent Boys Therapist Morgan Seymour, LCSW recently wrote an article featured on the OutThere Colorado online site. Her article, “8 health-focused reasons to spend more time outdoors,” incorporates research and her perspective as a wilderness therapist. The article covers reasons why people would benefit from more time outdoors, whether or not they face challenging diagnoses […]

November 5th, 2019

Partnering with Nature to Promote Health and Wellness: A Q&A with Adolescent Girls Therapist, Dr. Melia Snyder 

Q: What excites you most about working at Open Sky? A: As a clinical therapist, what excites me most is the opportunity to work with my students in partnership with the wilderness as a co-therapist. The wilderness removes us from the distractions, demands, and stimulations that often contribute to an imbalanced and unhealthy life. It provides an […]

November 1st, 2019

Open Sky Presents at NOLS Wilderness Risk Management Conference

Open Sky Family Wellness Counselor Norman Elizondo, Senior Clinical Therapist Mariah Loftin, MA, LPC and Assistant Health Director Coulter Stone, MAT, W-EMT were honored to present at the recent Wilderness Risk Management Conference (WRMC). The WRMC, presented by NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School), offers education and training in mitigating the risks inherent to exploring, working […]

October 31st, 2019

Cultivating Growth: A Q&A with Clinical Therapist, Brian Leidal, MA, LPC

Q: What types of experiences shaped your decision to become a therapist? A: At age 16 or 17, I became a camp counselor. In that role, I found true connection with fellow staffers and campers. That connection is what has led me along the journey I’m on and what makes me passionate about the work […]

October 29th, 2019

Family Care Coordinators: Experienced and Steady Support

At Open Sky, family support begins on day one. Our Family Care Coordinators are dedicated to supporting parents from the day a student arrives, through graduation. A Family Care Coordinator (FCC) is a family’s administrative point person at Open Sky throughout their entire journey in the program. They are a friendly and familiar voice on […]

October 28th, 2019

Open Sky Founder & CEO Aaron Fernandes Delivers Closing Keynote Presentation at Local Economic Summit

Open Sky Founder & CEO Aaron Fernandes was honored to present at the 2019 Economic Summit of the La Plata County Development Alliance on October 23. The Economic Summit engages our region’s top leaders and decision-makers from the business, government, and academic communities with strategic dialogue related to the current economic impacts and future growth […]

October 22nd, 2019

Digital Media Overuse: Clinical Training for Assessment, Intervention, and Treatment

As our society adapts to the expanding presence of technology, researchers and professionals have been looking at its effects on mental, social, and behavioral health. In fact, the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases will list “gaming disorder” for the first time in its 11th revision, taking effect in 2022. Recently, Open Sky primary […]

October 14th, 2019

Boys to Men: How Healthy Expression Fosters Healthy Masculinity

Q: Society and media floods us with – at times – unrealistic messages about what it means to be a man…. What are the implications of these messages?  A: Biologically, males and females at birth do not display many differences emotionally. Societally and culturally, we begin to treat them differently. In general, we tend to expect more emotional expression from girls and  […]

October 8th, 2019

Denver Area Alumni Reunion 2019: Share, Encourage, Inspire

We had an incredible time reconnecting with and celebrating our alumni last week at the Denver Alumni Reunion! Open Sky staff, alumni students, and alumni families gathered in Denver on Thursday, September 26 to share, encourage, and inspire. Open Sky alumni events are designed to bring together alumni at all stages of their journey post-Open […]

September 30th, 2019

“Stories from the Field: Demystifying Wilderness Therapy” Podcast Features Emily Fernandes, Open Sky Co-founder & Executive Director

Open Sky Executive Director & Co-founder Emily Fernandes was recently featured on the podcast, “Stories from the Field: Demystifying Wilderness Therapy”.   In this podcast episode, Emily speaks with podcast host Dr. Will White about her early years and her journey to the field of wilderness therapy. Emily shares stories from more than 1000 field days as a field guide at Aspen […]

September 27th, 2019

Reflections from College: Looking Back at my Open Sky Journey

Reilly joined Young Adults team Durga in the summer of 2017. She was 18 when she enrolled as a student and is now a 21-year-old psychology student at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon. In this interview, Reilly reflects on her Open Sky experience with Becca Reymann, a field guide who worked closely with Reilly […]

September 9th, 2019

Heroes and Legends: Master Senior Field Guide, Mike Kangley

We had the chance to sit down with Master Senior Field Guide, Mike Kangley. A veteran guide at Open Sky, Mike has worked across several departments and worn many hats as a leader in the field and mentor in our community. In this interview, we extract lessons from Mike’s experience as we discuss what led Mike to […]

September 3rd, 2019

Open Sky Denver Alumni Reunion!

Open Sky alumni students and families are invited to join us at our upcoming reunion! Denver, Colorado Area Alumni Reunion Gathering Thursday, September 26, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM Event includes tacos and other tasty bites – hosted by Open Sky RSVP by Friday, September 13  Immerse yourself in the Open Sky wilderness therapy community, catch up with Open […]

August 29th, 2019

Activating Potential: A Q&A with Clinical Director & Therapist, Sebastiaan Zuidweg

Q: What are you most passionate about in wilderness therapy and your role as Clinical Director & Therapist? A: One of the most amazing things about wilderness therapy is the way it cultivates community and connection. Within the safe therapeutic environment created in the wilderness, there is space for self-reflection and increased self-awareness. There are […]

August 21st, 2019

2019 Jumping Mouse Award Recipient: Emily “Jonesie” Jones

Every year at the National Wilderness Therapy Symposium, a select group of field guides are honored for their excellence and grit at the Jumping Mouse Ceremony. Each participating program is invited to nominate one exceptional field guide to receive the Jumping Mouse Award, which recognizes a guide for his or her excellence and commitment to […]

August 20th, 2019

Open Sky to Present at 2019 Wilderness Therapy Symposium

This week at the Wilderness Therapy Symposium, catch presentations by Family Wellness Counselor, Norman Elizondo; Program Director, Danny Frazer; and Executive Director, Emily Fernandes! Details on their presentations are below. Open Sky is proud to be a member of the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Council, committed to collaborating with others in the industry on best practices […]

August 6th, 2019

“How Will Wilderness Therapy Benefit Me?” a SKYlights Podcast with Therapist, Mariah Loftin

   How will wilderness therapy benefit me as a young adult? Why can’t I just stay home and do therapy? What if I know nothing about living in the outdoors?  These are just a few common questions young adult clients may ask when considering enrollment at Open Sky. In Episode 6 of the SKYlights […]

July 30th, 2019

“Deconstructing Motivation” Podcast with Dr. Aaron Wallis

What is motivation? Is it simply willpower? The desire for a specific action? The actual implementation of that action? In episode 5 of the SKYlights podcast, “Deconstructing Motivation”, Young Adults Therapist, Dr. Aaron Wallis, breaks it down for listeners. Dr. Wallis discusses motivation through the therapeutic lens of “behavioral apathy”. Behavioral apathy is what keeps […]

July 17th, 2019

From Across the Pond: Checking In With 2014 Open Sky Alumni Student, Izii T.

Open Sky alumni student Izii T. recently reached out to share her story with the greater Open Sky Community. Izii began a journey of self-love at Open Sky and has been pursuing big dreams since graduating the program in 2014. She hopes her update can encourage and inspire other Open Sky alumni and others thinking […]

July 9th, 2019

Wilderness Therapist, Chris Moeller, MS, MSW: 2,250 Field Days (and Counting!)

Q: You have been with Open Sky for 12 ½ years! You’ve been a field guide, a program mentor and now…a wilderness therapist. How have these roles shaped your experience at Open Sky?  A: I have accumulated over 2,250 days in the field in my guiding career so far, 1,850 of which have been at Open Sky […]

July 3rd, 2019

Driven by Success: The Important Role of the Open Sky Transporter

Open Sky transporters are the first faces of the company for new students. Transporters are responsible for welcoming new students and walking them through the arrival process until they join their team in the field. We recently sat down with Transport Manager, Evan Higgins, to discuss the student arrival process and how transporters set the […]

June 21st, 2019

Family Matters: What is Wellness Weekend?

Wellness Weekend has been foundational to family programming at Open Sky since the company’s inception in 2006. Guided by a team of Open Sky professionals, families participate in rejuvenating and healing activities that our students participate in each day, including yoga, hiking, meditation, psycho-educational groups, and eating delicious meals made with organic and nutritious whole […]

June 13th, 2019

Open Sky Wilderness Therapy Launches SKYlights Podcast

Open Sky, a wilderness therapy program nestled in the mountains of Colorado and the canyonlands of Utah, is excited to announce the launch of its podcast.

June 5th, 2019

Open Sky Seeks Clinical Therapist to Join Our Team!

Open Sky is seeking a passionate Clinical Therapist to join our team. Driven by our core belief that all people have the capacity to thrive, Open Sky provides individuals and their families with the skills needed for lasting success. 

May 16th, 2019

Game Changers: Utilizing Wilderness Therapy to Treat Adolescent Gaming Disorder

In my experience as a wilderness therapist for adolescent boys, students who spend the majority of each day behind a screen struggle with interpersonal relationships, low school performance, avoidance of emotions, and other unhealthy behaviors. Wilderness therapy can be a highly effective intervention that can support students in addressing not only their gaming and screen time use but the important underlying issues associated with excessive use.

May 15th, 2019

Where Are They Now: A Young Adult Reflects on his Wilderness Therapy Experience

Julian was a student at Open Sky from December 2017 through March of 2018. After graduating Open Sky, Julian attended an aftercare program and is now in the midst of pursuing a social work degree at Temple University! Learn more about his journey in the interview below. Q: What were some of the challenges that […]

April 29th, 2019

Open Sky Launches Alumni reConnect Call!

Open Sky is pleased to launch the Alumni reConnect Call! Open Sky’s mission of “inspiring people to learn and live in a way that honors values and strengthens relationships” applies not only to current students, but to alumni students as well. The Alumni reConnect Call will be held on the third Thursday of each month and […]

April 2nd, 2019

Are You Ready to Make a Difference? Open Sky is Hiring Field Guides

Updated November 2019 The Raven is the iconic and majestic “mascot” of the high desert; its familiarity matched only by its mystery. The clever bird finds solace from the realities of the desert in many places, among them the resilient and adaptable branches of the Utah Juniper. The tree’s metallic blue pinecones, often confused by […]

March 21st, 2019

How Wilderness Therapy Can Help Young Adult Women with Autism Spectrum Disorder 

Go to college… Get a full-time job… Form mature relationships and friendships… Develop healthy interests and hobbies… These are all benchmarks that 18-20 year-old females on the autism spectrum hope to accomplish. However, all too often these young women struggle to maintain their daily obligations, find difficulty socializing at an age-appropriate level, and participate in narrow, […]

March 18th, 2019

Autism in the Wilderness: Alumni Student reflects on her Diagnosis, Growth, and Future

Meghan came to Open Sky in the fall of 2018 struggling with communication, interpersonal skills, and other challenges. These challenges kept her from progressing in her student teaching program and thriving in life. Below, Meghan reflects on what brought her to Open Sky, the diagnosis that changed her life, and the support she received from […]

March 15th, 2019

GUIDE SPOTLIGHT: Dylan Cohen Reflects on Life in the Trenches as an Open Sky Field Guide

Lessons in Fire Busting After working in experiential education, challenge courses, and a behavior-focused program for at-risk youth, I was hungry for something more therapeutically productive. I found out about Open Sky and was immediately drawn to its holistic treatment approach. I moved to Durango, completed guide orientation, and entered the field in my new […]

March 7th, 2019

Sebastiaan Zuidweg joins as Clinical Director and Therapist

Open Sky is thrilled to introduce Sebastiaan Zuidweg as Clinical Director and Clinical Therapist! Sebastiaan is a Licensed Professional Counselor and has a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in Wilderness Therapy from Naropa University. Prior to Open Sky, Sebastiaan gained years of clinical and managerial experience in wilderness therapy, community mental health, […]

February 20th, 2019

Presentation: How to Talk about Cannabis Use in the Age of Legalization

Clinical Therapist Dr. Aaron Wallis had the wonderful opportunity to present to the Family Rockstars in Denver, a group of dedicated family therapy professionals. His presentation, “How to Talk about Cannabis Use in the Age of Legalization,” is linked below. We’re grateful for the ways Dr. Aaron can share his knowledge, continued research, and passion […]

February 5th, 2019

Open Sky Welcomes Dr. Melia Snyder, Clinical Therapist & Education Director

Open Sky is excited to welcome Dr. Melia Snyder as Clinical Therapist and Education Director! As Education Director, Dr. Melia will focus on developing an educational curriculum for Open Sky students. As a Clinical Therapist, she will work primarily with young adults as they overcome challenge, form connection in healthy relationships, and begin to thrive. […]

January 30th, 2019

Step Into Your Potential: A Conversation with Adolescent Boys Senior Therapist, Jonathan Mitchell, MA, LPC

Q: What led you to choose a career in wilderness therapy as opposed to working in a more traditional setting? A: I began in this industry as a field guide in 2001. To be honest, the reason I took the job was that I couldn’t find work living in Bend, Oregon at the time. But […]

January 21st, 2019

Walking the Path Together: A Conversation with Young Adults Clinical Therapist, Dr. Aaron Wallis

I want my clients to truly understand what is going on for them and become invested in their treatment. So, conveying information in ways that are accessible and digestible is absolutely vital. This means my job isn’t simply explaining the science of an issue or research behind a certain topic. It’s about understanding what each person’s actual experience is like. It’s about listening and validating; respecting and encouraging.

December 31st, 2018

“How Will Wilderness Therapy Benefit Me?”

Therapist, Mariah Loftin, MA, LPC, Answers Young Adults’ Frequently Asked Questions About Wilderness Therapy Q: What’s the benefit of being in the wilderness? Why not just see a home therapist? A: One of the reasons I chose to be a wilderness therapist is because the wilderness setting offers so many unique growth opportunities and constant support […]

December 21st, 2018

Tradition, Feasts and Fun: Celebrating the Holidays at Open Sky Wilderness

  Holidays in wilderness are an important time for students and field staff alike. They are fun and filled with joy; they offer unique moments to reflect on love and gratitude for family and the simple things in life. Staff put a lot of intention into programming for the holiday season. And it all starts […]

December 2nd, 2018

Strength and Confidence: How Therapist Kirsten Bolt Helps Adolescent Girls Thrive

Q: What led you to pursue a career as a wilderness therapist? A: I fell into wilderness therapy as a field guide during a transitional time in my life. I was drawn to the individual mentorship and intimate, personal conversations with students. I also enjoyed the often dynamic and challenging work with families. My heart […]

November 30th, 2018

Pursuing Their Heart’s Work: Assistant Therapists Jenny McDermed and Nick Lenderking-Brill

Open Sky Wilderness Therapy is committed to advancing the standards and evidence-based, best practices of the wilderness therapy industry. Part of this commitment is expressed through the clinical internship experience Open Sky offers. We are grateful and excited to have clinical interns Jenny McDermed and Nick Lenderking-Brill on our team as Assistant Therapists. Jenny and […]

November 16th, 2018

Instagram Takeover: Morgan Seymour’s “Week in the Life”

We love to give our Instagram followers a glimpse into life at Open Sky. We highlight events, shine a spotlight on staff, and draw attention to the wilderness therapy experience. It’s also a wonderful way to connect with our alumni and the greater Open Sky community. (So drop us a note in the post comments or in […]

November 14th, 2018

The Invaluable Support of Open Sky Transition Mentors

A student is nearing the end of his or her stay at Open Sky. For the past 10-12 weeks, this student and the family have grown in immeasurable ways. So, what happens next? How is this growth integrated into life beyond Open Sky? Transition Mentors, part of the Open Sky Family Services Team, are entirely […]

October 29th, 2018

Competence and Compassion: Open Sky Admissions Team

An interview with Open Sky Admissions & Professional Relations Director, Tere Snodgrass The Open Sky Admissions Team utilizes their extensive experience to support families in crisis. This dynamic team of four is dedicated to assisting prospective parents, students, and professionals with care and compassion as they navigate the admissions process. We recently sat down with Admissions & […]