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The Open Sky Team

November 1st, 2019

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The Open Sky Team

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 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 […]

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 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 […]

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 […]

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.

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 […]

October 24th, 2018

Experience Matters: Program Director, Danny Frazer

  Danny Frazer always dreamed of a career path that would allow him to help young people become the best version of themselves. Early on, he envisioned being a leader and role model for young people as a college basketball coach. However, after a summer internship with a Montana-based, family-run wilderness therapy program in 1996, […]

October 11th, 2018

Operations: Building the Foundations for a Safe and Meaningful Student Experience

Updated November 2019   Open Sky’s experienced and passionate Operations Team works both behind the scenes and hands-on to develop, construct, and maintain program infrastructure and processes. The Operations Team is responsible for the vehicle fleet, student clothing and gear, the transporting of students, and the maintenance of multiple facilities and base camps. Operations Director […]

September 14th, 2018

Open Sky Field Guides: Courageous and Compassionate

Article contributed by Senior Guide, Rebecca Slotta.   It’s Wednesday morning. My eyes snap open and a feeling of confusion passes through me. I stare at the ceiling, trying to figure out why I’m awake while the sun is still sleeping behind the horizon. I realize it’s Wednesday. My alarm is telling me to gear up because […]

August 31st, 2018

Dr. Aaron Wallis Featured in Woodbury Reports Podcast Series

Dr. Aaron Wallis, a Clinical Therapist at Open Sky serving the Young Adult population, was recently featured in Woodbury Reports. In an installment of Lon Woodbury’s podcast series “In Their Own Voice”, Dr. Wallis and Woodbury discuss the topic of motivation in young adults. Parents often question how to motivate their young adult who struggles […]

August 28th, 2018

From Student to Guide to Jumping Mouse Award Recipient!

Article contributed by Field Director, Evan Meyer. Every year at the OBH Wilderness Therapy Symposium, a Jumping Mouse Ceremony is held to recognize an exceptional Field Guide from each participating program. Award recipients demonstrate outstanding commitment to the work of field guiding and represent the qualities and characteristics most valued by the programs for which […]

August 17th, 2018

Diversity Education Series at Wilderness Therapy Symposium

Open Sky Wilderness Therapy is proud to be a Diversity Education Series sponsor at the upcoming Wilderness Therapy Symposium. The Symposium will take place August 23-25 in Park City, Utah. The Symposium brings together a cross-section of clinicians, field instructors, educators, educational consultants, professors, research specialists, students, and programs to share theories, insights and best […]

August 7th, 2018

Riding to Pay-It-Forward: Greg Arpante’s Bicycle Tour to Support Sky’s the Limit Fund

On May 27, 2018, Greg Arpante dipped his bicycle into Washington state’s Pacific coast and started pedaling east. So began his dual trans-US bicycle tour, a ride from Seattle to Bar Harbor and from Canada to Mexico. What was born as simply a personal summer challenge evolved to be a ride for a cause: a […]

July 9th, 2018

Promoting Growth through Art Therapy in the Wilderness

Article contributed by Clinical Therapist, Mary Zaunbrecher. Art therapy is the use of artistic media and creative expression to identify and communicate feelings, thoughts, and beliefs. At Open Sky Wilderness Therapy, this type of self-expression is a valuable tool for students as they begin to explore and work through the issues that brought them to […]

July 1st, 2018

Navigating the Transition Process After Open Sky

Article contributed by Family Services Therapist Aaron Belson. Updated November 2019. At Open Sky, students are immersed in a new environment and removed from many of the distractions that kept them from thriving at home. This is an essential part of stabilization, assessment, and initiation of real change. When students leave our program to return […]

May 30th, 2018

Enhanced Family Services: Parent Coaching

Article contributed by Family Services Therapist, Jessica Chacon. At Open Sky, we live with the core purpose of activating the potential of the human spirit and by the belief that all people have the capacity to thrive. We apply this purpose and belief to our work with not only students, but families as well. Parent […]

April 24th, 2018

Three Ways for Open Sky Parents to Engage in the Process

Updated November 2019 Open Sky was founded with the desire to actively engage parents in their child’s therapy experience. To pursue healing for the family system, parents with children enrolled at Open Sky are encouraged to look inward, to engage in their own work through Open Sky’s Family Pathway workbook and to utilize the many […]

March 8th, 2018

Family Matters: The Family Quest™ Experience

Updated October 2019   A Family Quest™ intensive is a multi-day family therapy intervention in the wilderness with the individualized attention of a Family Services Therapist and Wilderness Guide. The concept comes from the age-old Native American practice of the “vision quest”, a rite of passage in which an individual enters the wilderness to gain […]

March 2nd, 2018

Family Matters: Family Programming in Wilderness Therapy

Since its founding in 2006, Open Sky has transcended traditional wilderness therapy by emphasizing treatment for the whole family (not just the adolescent or young adult), and the application of evidence-based clinical modalities. Our family systems therapy approach also includes innovative, well-researched, holistic healing practices such as yoga, meditation, and mindfulness. When a family partners with […]

February 14th, 2018

Breaking Down the Barriers to Love 

Article contributed by Family Services Therapist, Jessica Chacon. “We are as attracted to love as we are intimidated by it. We are motivated by love, controlled by it, inspired by it, healed by it, and destroyed by it. Love is the fuel of our physical and spiritual bodies. Each of life’s challenges is a lesson […]

January 5th, 2018

Fire Busting: A Daily Challenge with Lifelong Rewards

Article contributed by field guide Anna Hanson. The sun sets, the sky glows orange and the last signs of daylight disappear behind the juniper trees. Camp is set up and our team begins to make a fire with their bow drill sets. I feel excited as I see the team dedicated and working hard. As […]

December 28th, 2017

Monday Night Parent Support Group: Guidance Throughout the Open Sky Journey

Whether one week or ten weeks into the Open Sky journey, it can be an emotion-filled experience for parents. Parents may feel anxious, overwhelmed, concerned, hopeful, relieved, or a combination of all of the above. The Monday Night Parent Support Group call provides an opportunity for parents at all stages of the journey to come […]

November 21st, 2017

Mary Zaunbrecher, MS, LPC, Joins Open Sky Clinical Team

Mary Zaunbrecher began her studies in counseling with the intention of helping others through the use of alternative and creative therapies, including art and play. She received a Master’s of Science in Counselor Education from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. During and after her graduate experience, Mary worked with diverse populations utilizing a variety […]

October 10th, 2017

Open Sky’s Utah Winter Base Camp

Updated November 2019 Summers at Open Sky are spent in the high country of southwest Colorado, amongst the aspen groves and mountain peaks of the San Juan National Forest. As the season changes from summer to fall, so does our location. In early October, we make the annual move to our winter base camp and […]

August 30th, 2017

Wilderness Therapy Symposium: Learn, Grow, and Honor

Last week, Open Sky staff members had the opportunity to attend the 2017 Wilderness Therapy Symposium in Park City, Utah. The Wilderness Therapy Symposiumprovides opportunities to explore topics related to wilderness therapy, advance knowledge, build community, and recognize excellence. The event is held bi-annually by the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Council (OBHC). Open Sky’s Program Director, […]

August 4th, 2017

Field Guiding and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

If our students acquire the tools necessary to meet their needs for physical safety, emotional safety, love and belonging, and self-esteem, then the realization of their full potential is within reach.

July 10th, 2017

Open Sky announces dates and locations for Alumni Parent Wellness Retreats

Connect, Recharge, and Thrive with Open Sky!   Open Sky is pleased to announce dates and locations for our Alumni Parent Wellness Retreats! These inspiring two-day wellness retreats will be facilitated by Family Therapist, Kendall Smith, MA, LPC, NCC and Wellness Counselor, Norman Elizondo. Open Sky Alumni Parent Wellness Retreats are designed to further personal […]

June 26th, 2017

Open Sky Welcomes Kim Kelley, M.Ed., LPC, to its Clinical Team

Open Sky Wilderness Therapy is pleased to announce the addition of Licensed Professional Counselor, Kim Kelley to its clinical team. “Kim is an excellent addition to the Open Sky clinical team,” said Clinical and Family Services Director, Tony Issenmann. “She is a confident, talented, and humble clinician who brings tremendous knowledge and experience to Open […]

June 5th, 2017

Open Sky Therapists Author Chapters In New Book

Dr. Tony Issenmann, Kirsten Bolt and Kendall Smith, author chapters in the recently published book: Family Therapy with Adolescents in Residential Treatment Open Sky Clinical Team and Family Services Team members Tony Issenmann, Ph.D., LMFT; Kirsten Bolt, MEd, LMFT; and Kendall R.E. Smith, MA, LPC, NCC were honored to contribute chapters to Family Therapy with Adolescents in Residential […]

April 25th, 2017

Annual Senior Guide Retreat Provides Training, Appreciation, and Team Building Opportunities

In many ways, Open Sky’s wilderness field guides are the heart and soul of our program. They live in the field with students 24/7, including holidays. Guides not only ensure the safety of our students; they also serve as mentors, role models, teachers, and friends. Our guides are passionate about our mission and encompass a […]

April 4th, 2017

Open Sky Welcomes Therapist Morgan Seymour

Please join us in welcoming therapist Morgan Seymour, LCSW, to Open Sky’s clinical team. Morgan is incredibly passionate about her work and brings significant depth and experience as both a wilderness guide and wilderness therapist. Like Open Sky, Morgan emphasizes a values-driven and family-centered approach to her work. Morgan will be working with adolescent boys […]

November 25th, 2016

Thanksgiving in the Field: A day of Community, Connection and Fun!

Every year, millions of families partake in a gloriously gluttonous gathering to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday and life’s many blessings. For many, Thanksgiving takes place around a table in the comfort of a warm home. For Open Sky students, Thanksgiving is celebrated outdoors, under the warm desert sun.  In many ways, Thanksgiving in the field […]