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Category: Clinical

 
September 28th, 2020

Purposefully Present (Pt. 1): Understanding Mindfulness & Interoception

Welcome to Open Sky’s “Purposefully Present” blog series! By sharing the basics of mindfulness practice, we hope to empower you to regulate your nervous system, center yourself, and be in the present moment. To kick off the series, clinical therapist Brian Leidal (adolescent boys and young adults) gives us an introduction to mindfulness and interoception. […]

September 25th, 2020

Back to School, Pt. 2: School Refusal and Truancy

School refusal, truancy, and motivation issues may be exacerbated by this most unconventional school year. In the following Q&A, clinical therapist Jonathan Mitchell addresses these topics. Whether your child is skipping Zoom classes, ditching in-person school, or consistently withdrawing from school and extracurriculars, Jonathan shares tips to help families during these unprecedented times. (If school […]

September 21st, 2020

Supporting Young Adults with Gender and Sexual Identity Issues

One of the most important components of wilderness therapy treatment is creating an emotionally safe, open, and accepting space for students to truly be themselves—away from the pressures of school, society, and even family. This safe space is especially important for students exploring their gender identity, questioning their sexuality, or struggling with issues related to […]

September 10th, 2020

Helping Young Adults Navigate a Not-So-Normal College Year

(Note: We refer to “your young adult child” as they/them throughout the article. As you read, feel free to adapt the writing to the pronouns that your child uses.)   Let’s imagine September 2020 without coronavirus. Football teams would be competing in front of packed stadiums. Music lovers would be dancing shoulder to shoulder at music festivals. College […]

September 8th, 2020

Back to School, Pt. 1: Navigating Virtual School with your Adolescent Child

It’s that time of year. School has started up again…but with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the start of the school year is anything but typical. With many schools moving to virtual school, parents are grappling with how to set their kids up for success: academically, socially, emotionally, and physically. In part 1 of our “Back […]

August 28th, 2020

Academics at Open Sky

Students at Open Sky have the opportunity to earn 3.5 high school credits in six academic areas. In the following article, Education Director Dr. Melia Snyder describes the philosophy of Open Sky’s academic program, the ways it intertwines with the organization’s clinical approach, and the types of credits available. Melia has a Ph.D. in counseling […]

August 25th, 2020

Full Circle: A Conversation with Sam Verutti, Clinical Therapist for Adolescent Boys

Meet Sam Verutti, MSW, clinical therapist for adolescent boys at Open Sky Wilderness Therapy. Sam’s clinical approach is enriched by his childhood immersed in the outdoors, his experience as a wilderness therapy student, and over three years working as an Open Sky field guide. His journey has come full circle since earning his Master’s of […]

August 18th, 2020

Treating Emerging Cluster B Personality Disorders in Wilderness Therapy

People with personality disorders historically have been misunderstood and pathologized as having character faults. In reality, it’s not that one has a “broken” personality, as the name might suggest. Rather, this diagnosis typically results from childhood coping strategies that eventually become entrenched behavioral and emotional patterns if not otherwise interrupted. Individuals who don’t believe their […]

July 2nd, 2020

Challenging Addictive Patterns in the Wilderness

Choosing a New Way Forward Often, when young adults arrive in my team at Open Sky, our conversations tend to center around two pertinent questions: Why do you think your parents believe this is the right setting for you? and What do you hope to work on during your time here? These questions are often […]

June 23rd, 2020

SKYlights Podcast returns with all new episodes!

Open Sky Wilderness Therapy’s SKYlights Podcast returns this week with brand new episodes! Executive Director Emily Fernandes hosts new conversations with our clinical experts on a variety of topics such as healthy communication, parenting styles, the link between trauma and addiction, and successful transitions, to name a few. The SKYlights podcast is geared toward parents […]

June 19th, 2020

Morgan Seymour Featured on the Smart Social Podcast

Catch Clinical Therapist Morgan Seymour’s interview on the Smart Social Podcast! In the episode, “Identifying Warning Signs of a Gaming Disorder,” released on June 18, 2020, Morgan speaks with podcast host Josh Ochs about gaming addiction, warning signs, and what parents can do. Josh Ochs founded Smart Social to “keep kids safe on social media […]

May 26th, 2020

Opening Doors and Building Connection: A Conversation with Therapist Nick Lenderking-Brill

Get to know Nick Lenderking-Brill, therapist for adolescent boys! Nick began his time at Open Sky Wilderness Therapy as a Family Services intern while pursuing his Master’s degree at Naropa University. With family services, guiding, transport, operations, and clinical experience, Nick’s depth of knowledge and expertise is a huge asset in his work with students […]

May 1st, 2020

Empowering Strategies for Managing Anxiety

Anxiety is a powerful force, and in this day and age, triggers seem to pop up everywhere. In fact, the National Institute of Mental Health reported that “an estimated 31.1% of U.S. adults experience any anxiety disorder at some time in their lives.” It shows up in many different ways for a variety of people […]

April 23rd, 2020

Let’s Clear the Air on Vaping

Clinical Therapist Brian Leidal (young adults and adolescent boys) addresses the topic of vaping, a form of substance use that has surged amongst teens and young adults in recent years. With four years at Open Sky, previous work experience in inpatient drug and alcohol rehab, and a Master’s degree in Community Counseling with an emphasis […]

April 6th, 2020

An Outdoor, Indoor, and Online Guide to Experiencing Nature During the COVID-19 Pandemic

This article about getting outdoors during the COVID-19 pandemic was written with consideration of state and federal “stay at home” or “shelter in place” mandates and social distancing requirements. Be sure to consult your respective local and state government policies as well as official public health organizations (such as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) […]

March 30th, 2020

5 Steps to Grounded Response to Stress

As the world continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, the Open Sky Team is committed to providing supportive resources for this unprecedented time. To access Open Sky’s COVID-19 resources, CLICK HERE. We will continue to add new articles from our clinical experts in the weeks ahead. In this article, learn how to develop a healthy […]

March 25th, 2020

How to Take Care of Yourself in the Midst of a Pandemic

In an effort to “flatten the curve” and halt the spread of COVID-19, public health officials are asking people to shelter at home, drastically alter their daily lives, decrease physical interaction, and engage in rigorous hygiene practices. A few weeks ago, the term “social distancing” wasn’t even on our collective radar. Today, schools, businesses, and […]

March 3rd, 2020

Finding the Way to Self-Love: A Father Reflects on His Son’s Transformation

Testimonial contributed by Alumni Parent Charlie H. Our 15-year-old son went to Open Sky Wilderness from January 17, 2019, to April 17, 2019. Leading up to that point, my wife and I had grown increasingly worried as we watched him lose his way. We continually observed him making poor decisions, often not telling the full truth, […]

February 25th, 2020

Therapeutic Excellence in an Integrated Role: A Q&A With Therapist Mary Zaunbrecher

Mary Zaunbrecher, MS, LPC is a therapist for students and families on both the Clinical and Family Services Teams. In this integrated role, Mary works with students in the field, provides clinical coverage for primary therapists, and comes alongside families through our variety of family services. In the Q&A below, learn more about Mary’s clinical […]

February 19th, 2020

Where are they now? Alumni Student Nicole Embraces Her Inner Strength

Testimonial contributed by Alumni Student Nicole D. (2018, Team Firefly – Adolescent Girls)   The Challenges Leading Me to Open Sky I was sent to Open Sky at age seventeen for PTSD, depression, anxiety, and acute alcoholism. I had attempted to take my life three times over the course of two years. I was bullied […]

February 10th, 2020

How to Talk with Your Young Adult About Wilderness Therapy

When our children are hurting, struggling, and making poor decisions, there is an impulse as parents to swoop in and fix things for them. This is normal. However, it is important to identify when that hurting, struggling, and those poor decisions become a pattern. That is when parents NEED to step in and accept help. […]

February 3rd, 2020

Open Sky Celebrates Clinical Therapist Jonathan Mitchell’s 10-Year Anniversary

Open Sky is proud to celebrate Clinical Therapist for Adolescent Boys, Jonathan “Badger” Mitchell’s 10-year anniversary at Open Sky Wilderness Therapy. For the past decade, Jonathan has shared his extensive expertise serving adolescents, young adults, and families, while delivering an unmatched positivity and passion for his work. Following his undergraduate education in math and physics, Jonathan […]

January 27th, 2020

Exploring the Link Between Trauma And Addiction

Trauma and Health Risk Let’s start with a definition. What is trauma? We often quote the work of Dan Siegel, MD at Open Sky. Dr. Siegel defines trauma as an experience that overwhelms our capacity to cope. In other words, if one doesn’t have sufficient coping skills or resources to deal with an overwhelming experience, […]

January 1st, 2020

10 Tips for Strengthening Family Relationships

Are you ready to strengthen family relationships in 2020? At Open Sky, we inspire people to learn and live in a way that honors values and strengthens relationships. This is a key component of our mission. Below, members of our Family Services, Clinical, and Alumni Relations teams share tangible tips to enhance, enrich, and strengthen […]

December 11th, 2019

Wilderness Therapy and the Nervous System: How Slowing Down Promotes Healing

A Different Emphasis Wilderness therapy is an acute intervention through which students step out of the pressures of life and reevaluate their relationship with themselves and others. Most often, our students come from environments with a bombardment of stimuli and social pressures. There are pressures from work, school, social media, phone notifications, emails, and oh, […]

December 5th, 2019

The Power of Intentional Time Alone in Wilderness

Senior Clinical Therapist, Jonathan Mitchell, MA, LPC (adolescent boys) addresses common questions about the “solo” experience at Open Sky, from purpose to impact, and logistics to supervision. Jonathan celebrates his 10-year Open Sky anniversary this month. He has facilitated more than 1000 solos over the course of his tenure at Open Sky.   Question: What […]

November 26th, 2019

Clinical Team Attends Training: How to Talk About Cannabis Use in the Age of Legalization

Open Sky Clinical and Family Services staff recently attended the training: “How to Talk about Cannabis Use in the Age of Legalization.” Attendees walked away from the training up to date on the latest research on cannabis use. They were educated on the risks associated with use amongst a clinical population or for those with […]

November 22nd, 2019

A Systemic Approach for Lasting Success

A Systemic Approach to Family Therapy Now that your child or family member is enrolled at Open Sky, do you find that you are asking yourself, “what now?” While your loved one is hard at work in the wilderness, rather than simply waiting to see what happens, you also have a unique opportunity to also […]

November 19th, 2019

Adoption, Attachment, and Wilderness Therapy

Parents considering Open Sky for their adopted child often have a unique set of questions pertaining to their relationships, family dynamics, and clinical concerns. Below, we aim to answer common questions regarding our work with adopted students and their families. (article updated November 2019) Q: What is Open Sky’s approach to working with adopted students? […]

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 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  […]

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 […]

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 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 […]

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 […]

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 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, […]