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Category: Clinical

 
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 […]

September 7th, 2018

Planting the Seeds of Change: How Clinical Therapist Morgan Robak 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 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 […]

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

Art Therapy in the Wilderness: Promoting Growth through Creative Expression

  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 wilderness therapy in the first place. […]

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 […]

June 15th, 2018

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.   Q: What is Open Sky’s approach to working with adopted students? A: First and […]

May 25th, 2018

From Distant to Connected: Effective Communication Strategies to Improve Parent-Child Relationships

It is common knowledge that adolescent boys and girls face many challenges during their exciting and trying developmental years. And it’s no surprise that those challenges can often persist into young adulthood. Many parents struggle to reach out, connect to, and partner with their child throughout this phase of life. Most of the students and […]

May 17th, 2018

At a Crossroads: A Conversation with Transition Age Young Adults Therapist, Chris Blankenship, LSW

  Q: Why did you decide to become a therapist and what drew you to wilderness therapy? A: I had the goal of becoming a therapist from a very young age. When I was five or six years old, I had a friend with cystic fibrosis. I loved nothing more than sitting with him, listening […]

May 8th, 2018

Finding Connection Beyond the Screen

Over the past few years, I’ve been struck by the increasing number of Open Sky parents who report feeling exasperated regarding their child’s “excessive use of social media” and “cell phone addiction.” Though students at Open Sky live outside without access to electronic devices and social media, I witness its impact on the students’ relationships […]

May 3rd, 2018

To Inspire and Be Inspired: A Conversation with Young Adults Clinical Therapist, Mariah Loftin, MA, LPC

  Why did you choose Wilderness Therapy, as opposed to practicing therapy in more traditional settings? I am passionate about helping young adults heal, reconnect with themselves, and reach their goals. I’ve found that wilderness therapy is the most effective way for people to do that. My experience in outpatient and inpatient settings highlighted that […]

April 27th, 2018

Family Matters: Creating Systemic Change for Lasting Success

The “What Now?” 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 look inward and […]

April 24th, 2018

A Family Process: 3 Ways for Parents to Engage in the Open Sky Experience

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 are encouraged to look inward, to engage in their own work through Open Sky’s Family Pathway Workbook and to utilize the many resources available through our Family Services department. Though every […]

April 19th, 2018

Open Sky Launches New Adolescent Boys Group with Therapist, Brian Carr, MA, LPCC

Open Sky is pleased to announce the launch of a new adolescent boys group lead by therapist, Brian Carr, MA, LPCC.  Brian joined Open Sky’s clinical team in January 2017 as an Assistant Clinical Therapist. For the past year and a half, he has been immersed in Open Sky’s comprehensive therapist training and development program […]

April 11th, 2018

Deconstructing Motivation

One of the most common frustrations I hear from my clients and families is a struggle to understand and “fix” a lack of motivation. For example, “Why can’t I take action to actually achieve my goals?” or “Why doesn’t my child change an obviously unhelpful behavior?” These conflicts can feel obvious, paradoxical, and insurmountable, which […]

April 3rd, 2018

Assessing and Addressing Complexities in Wilderness (Part 1): Borderline Personality Disorder

The American Psychiatric Association defines Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) as a mental health condition that results in a pervasive pattern of instability in relationships, a negative self-image, as well as impulsive and self-damaging behaviors. What is evident from this definition and my work with individuals with BPD is how they can struggle in many aspects […]

March 20th, 2018

Mindfulness and the Adolescent Boy: Developing Practices that Benefit for a Lifetime

Research shows that the average person has more than 50,000-70,000 thoughts a day (Davis). That’s about 35-48 thoughts per minute! Imagine if we fixated, focused, or acted on each thought we had, not only would we be overwhelmed, but everyday tasks would become more difficult and almost impossible. Interestingly, “nearly 50% of our awake life […]

March 2nd, 2018

Family Matters: The Intentional Development of 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. This approach also includes innovative, well-researched, holistic healing practices such as yoga, meditation, and mindfulness. When a family partners with Open Sky, each […]

February 21st, 2018

Mindful Trauma Treatment in Wilderness Therapy

When an individual has experienced trauma in his or her life, a fundamental result is the belief that the world is not a safe place. The individual then internalizes and generalizes this belief, feeling personally unsafe even in safe situations. As you can imagine, this generalization breeds a distrust in one’s internal and external worlds. […]

December 16th, 2017

Understanding Self-Harm and Treating it in Wilderness

Q: What is self-harm? A: “Self-harm” refers to “non-suicidal self-injury,” or intentionally harming one’s body without suicidal intent and in a manner that’s not socially-sanctioned. Often self-harm includes cutting, scratching, burning, or carving words into the skin. Those tend to be the most common methods but there are more extensive forms of self-harm. Socially-sanctioned body […]

December 12th, 2017

Renewal of OBH Accreditation Symbolizes our Commitment to Quality

We are proud to announce that the Association for Experiential Education (AEE) has renewed Open Sky’s Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Accreditation. This accreditation is a symbol of our unending commitment to providing our students, families, and team members with the highest quality practices in the industry. AEE has a long-standing reputation for accreditation of experiential and […]

December 7th, 2017

Relief, Resurgence, Recovery: Treating OCD in the Wilderness

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is frequently used as a colloquialism for highly orderly or particular people. However, for those who actually meet the diagnostic criteria, it can be an extremely distressing and confusing experience. At Open Sky, we come alongside students with OCD to help them understand their symptoms, treat the disorder and empower them to […]

November 21st, 2017

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

Mary 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 of […]

November 14th, 2017

Parenting the Healthy, Independent Teen: Pitfalls and Tools (Part II)

In Part I of  Parenting the Healthy, Independent Teen: Pitfalls and Tools, I discussed how parents can listen so that their teens share more with them, as well as how to accept feelings, not behavior. Now, we move on to a few other critical points I have found in my work with teenage boys, and […]

November 7th, 2017

Teaching and Modeling Respectful Male-Female Relationships for Adolescent Boys

In wilderness therapy, we often address the topic of how male students view and treat the women in their lives. In the field, we are able to witness students’ attitudes and behaviors toward women through their stories from home, their words, and their daily interactions with female staff. How does Open Sky approach these issues […]

October 10th, 2017

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Body Image Perception and Its Impact on the Behavior of Adolescent Girls

The words in the blue box below are from a song I wrote a few years ago, inspired by my counseling sessions with adolescent and adults struggling with body image. Summer was approaching, and for many, this meant heightened worry about their bodies ‘being seen’. After acknowledging that winter and spring provide ‘protection’ through layers […]

September 26th, 2017

Transition Age Young Adults: How are they Unique?

Turning 18 is one of the biggest milestones that young people in our culture experience. Overnight, one goes from being labeled a child to an adult. However, the growth that occurs in that one day is not commensurate with cognitive development, the change in expectations, nor the decrease of dependency on others. Transition age young […]

August 23rd, 2017

Making Connections: Evaluating Technology Use with Mindfulness and Intention

My husband is a software engineer who telecommutes and is passionate about technology. As you can imagine, our home hums with machines and gadgets powered by the latest and greatest software. One positive about this is our ongoing conversations about technology addiction. When he worked for a large video game company, I would (somewhat jokingly) […]

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 […]

March 24th, 2017

Substance Use and Glasser’s Needs​

Substance abuse is a common issue that we work with at Open Sky, in both our adolescent and young adult populations. Substance abuse, while unhealthy, is a widely-used coping method for many young people. For some, substance abuse can be an occasional and short-term occurrence, and, for others, it can become a pattern that develops […]

March 3rd, 2017

Four Layers of Girls

Throughout my experience of working with adolescent girls and boys in wilderness therapy, one theme emerges clearly and repeatedly: girls are so much more complicated! Girls typically express their emotions, thoughts, wants, and needs in seemingly more layered and complex ways than boys. A simple Google search about differences between men and women will generate […]

February 28th, 2017

Parenting the Healthy, Independent Teen: Pitfalls and Tools (Part I)

When I was a teenager, I had an insatiable desire to “fight.” Nearly any directive or request that came from adults, authority figures, or anyone who seemingly had “more power” than I, was met with an indelible resistance wrought with righteousness. For example, the more I saw my parents squirm when I listened to music […]

February 15th, 2017

Culture and Community at Open Sky

In 2015, Open Sky’s leadership team unveiled a document which outlines the values of our program. We call this document Open Sky’s “Culture Pathway” in a nod to the Student Pathway and Family Pathway, which are instruments designed to guide students and their families through the program. The Culture Pathway encompasses Open Sky’s mission, our […]

February 10th, 2017

Tuning In: The Intentional Use of Music in the Wilderness

The young men of Team Geronimo have a myriad of interests and passions, not the least of which is music. A few weeks ago those young men were positively giddy because I, their therapist, had brought out a small set of speakers and some of their favorite songs. For one exciting hour the sounds of […]

February 1st, 2017

Marijuana: Clearing Up the Smoke

Marijuana is among the most commonly used substances seen in wilderness therapy clients. As such it is important to understand and contextualize many of the common arguments and beliefs espoused by our cannabis using clients, the most common of which is that marijuana is not addictive. The purpose of this article is not to vilify […]

September 9th, 2016

A Fond Farewell to Our Seasonal Therapists

With the nights growing longer and the leaves commencing their annual descent to the grassy ground below; summer is officially coming to an end. As we say goodbye to the luscious alpine Colorado course area, we also say goodbye to two unforgettable members of the Open Sky clinical team: Dr. Sarah Issenmann and Erin Crowley. […]

June 16th, 2016

Open Sky Wilderness Therapy Celebrates 10 Years of Helping People Thrive

This year Open Sky Wilderness Therapy celebrates its tenth anniversary. The Durango, CO based organization assists teens and young adults struggling with difficult challenges and unmanageable dynamics by providing life-changing experiences and long-term skills enabling them to thrive. Through its success, Open Sky has grown to employ over 150 staff, making it one of the […]