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Category: Clinical

 
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

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 […]

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, […]

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 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 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 […]

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 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

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 […]

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 […]

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

Transition Age Young Adults: At a Crossroads

  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

Inspire and Be Inspired: Young Adults Therapist Mariah Loftin

  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 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 […]