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Category: Young Adults

 
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 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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 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. […]

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, […]

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? […]

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 […]

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 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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

July 9th, 2018

Promoting Growth through Art Therapy in the Wilderness

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. Art […]

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 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 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 Borderline Personality Disorder in the Wilderness

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 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 […]

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, our approach to OCD treatment is to come alongside students to help them understand their symptoms, treat the disorder […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]