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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 in 2014. She hopes her update can encourage and inspire other Open Sky alumni and others thinking about embarking […]

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 (P. 1): 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

Q: What were some of the challenges that led you to Open Sky? How did you feel about coming to a wilderness therapy program? A: I was a student at Temple University and had just finished my third year, with little success and connection. I tended to isolate myself and my parents grew concerned. I […]

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

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 the masses as […]

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 & […]

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

An Interview with Operations Director, Greg Ooley 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 team flourishes under the leadership of Operations Director, Greg Ooley. Prior to joining Open Sky in 2013, Greg managed outdoor expedition companies in Alaska […]

October 1st, 2018

Family Matters: Parenting with Distinct Styles

  A United Front At Open Sky, we are committed to our vision of being the premier family-centered wilderness experience. This means we support the entire family system, rather than just focus on the student’s experience. We come alongside parents in their endeavor to grow personally and better lead their family system. This involves addressing […]

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 […]

September 7th, 2018

Planting the Seeds of Change: How Clinical Therapist Morgan Seymour Helps Adolescent Boys Flourish in Wilderness

  Q: What led you to become a wilderness therapist? A: In my senior year of undergrad, I did a NOLS backpacking and pack rafting trip in Alaska for 32 days. I learned an immense amount about myself. I came out of that experience a completely different person with a whole new level of confidence. […]

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 13th, 2018

The “Yes” Within the “No”: How to Parent So Your Teen Trusts You

  The Infamous Hair-Cut At dinner one night, a friend of mine and I were speaking about our teenage years and how much we pushed the envelope of our parents’ rules and boundaries. She lightheartedly recounted a vignette of what occurred years before when her son came home after smoking marijuana for the first time […]

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 31st, 2018

Pedaling Through the Mountains to Support Courageous Kids

Last week, Open Sky Finance Director, Erin Pinkham pedaled more than 100 miles up and down mountain passes (roughly 7,500 feet of elevation gain) in the Courage Classic bicycle tour to raise money for local families in need. Open Sky was proud to sponsor her team and the Courage Classic event. Learn more about the […]

July 25th, 2018

A Natural Fit: Wilderness Therapy and Adolescent Girls Therapist, Kim Kelley, M.Ed., LPC

Q: Why do you choose to work in wilderness therapy? A: In the early 90’s when I was in graduate training, I had never heard the term “wilderness therapy” before. It was at that time that my younger brother experienced wilderness therapy as a student. He expressed that the experience changed his life. I and […]

July 12th, 2018

Self-Harm & Suicidal Ideation in Adolescent Boys

Misconceptions In our society, boys and men often grow up without being taught the skills necessary to manage emotions. They are sent the message that it’s best they don’t talk about their feelings. Therefore, when a young man is struggling internally and feels he can’t discuss his emotions openly, self-harm can become a means of […]

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

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 home or continue treatment at an aftercare program, they may find […]

June 22nd, 2018

Codependency and Adolescent Girls: A Conversation with Therapist Sierra Williams, MA, NCC, LPC

 What is codependency? Codependency is a clinical term used to describe a relationship dynamic in which two individuals mutually rely on each other to meet their own needs and wants. Although not a diagnosable condition, codependency is a relationship phenomenon that is quite common – and quite problematic.   Another clinical term we could use to […]

June 18th, 2018

Working with Grief & Loss: A Q&A with Adolescent Girls Therapist, Kim Kelley

  Q: What is the difference between grief and loss? Grief is the response to a loss. It’s the emotional suffering that occurs when we lose something or someone. For example, this could be the death of a loved one, a divorce, a move, or a relationship break-up. Typically, the more significant loss, the more […]