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Open Sky Launches New Program for Early Adolescents, Ages 12-14

Lori Armbruster | Communications Director

Enrollment scheduled to begin June 1

Open Sky is excited to introduce a new program focused on providing treatment for early adolescents. For 15 years, Open Sky has been blending sophisticated clinical treatment with holistic wellness practices to empower adolescents, young adults, and their families to live in a way that honors values and strengthens relationships. We are thrilled to build on our history of success by expanding our services to include a younger population.

Open Sky’s early adolescent program fulfills an important need in wilderness therapy, as it is specifically designed to meet the unique developmental needs of individuals ages 12 to 14. Many early adolescent students need creative, play-based, experiential activities as vehicles to develop important intrapersonal and interpersonal skills. In addition to our core program experience, we are excited to partner with Medicine Horse Center to provide students with weekly equine-assisted therapy. Medicine Horse Center is a nonprofit based in Mancos, Colorado that has 22 years of experience working with early adolescents. They have designed and created the A.W.A.R.E. program exclusively for the early adolescent population. In addition to equine therapy, Medicine Horse Center will also incorporate drumming, art, journaling, clay, and other creative activities into their work with the students. Our early adolescent program meets state curriculum standards, allowing students to earn 3.5 accredited hours of academic credit. Through experiential learning, dynamic group processes, and intentional community partnerships, we offer an educational experience that activates and empowers the unique potential of each student to thrive.

Mark Sobel and pre-teen Open Sky student

Powered by Open Sky’s commitment to family-centered treatment, the early adolescent program also extends beyond the child and actively engages the entire family system in the therapeutic process. This new and exciting program is led by a team of experienced mental health professionals: Program Director Liz Lucarelli and Clinical Therapists Mark Sobel and Julia Lehr. Liz, Mark, and Julia specialize in early adolescent treatment and boast a wealth of experience working with this population and their families. We invite you to learn more about our amazing early adolescent team below.

Early adolescent program Open Sky


Liz Lucarelli Open Sky Early Adolescent ProgramLiz Lucarelli, MS, NCC, LCMHC, RPT
Program Director

Liz Lucarelli comes to Open Sky with extensive experience working with early adolescents and their families in wilderness and residential settings. Her journey began in 2005 when she worked as a wilderness therapy field instructor. After leaving the field to further her education and experience, Liz set a personal goal to work specifically with early adolescents, as she was drawn to the wisdom, creativity, playfulness, and authenticity that comes with a younger population.

Prior to Open Sky, Liz worked as a therapist at several wilderness therapy and residential programs. She has also led international adventure travel trips and worked as both a program director and lead instructor for a wilderness leadership program. Liz earned her master’s degree from Western Carolina University in community counseling and a Bachelor of Arts in wilderness leadership and experiential education from Brevard College. Liz is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor and a National Certified Counselor. She is also a Registered Play Therapist through the Association of Play Therapy.

As the Early Adolescent Program Director, Liz will be supporting families through their journey at Open Sky. She will facilitate parent coaching and work alongside the field and clinical team to deliver a powerful clinical and wilderness experience to students in the field. Liz believes wilderness is the ideal place for families to reconnect, shift into new patterns of interacting, improve communication, and build confidence and resiliency. She has experience working with families whose child is dealing with anxiety, depression, social issues, oppositional behaviors, ADHD, identity development, trauma, loss, and significant transitions in their life.

Mark Sobel Open Sky Early Adolescent ProgramMark Sobel, LCSW
Clinical Therapist, Early Adolescent Boys

Mark Sobel has more than a decade of experience working with children, adolescents, and families. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in theater from the University of Rochester, Mark worked as a schoolteacher in Costa Rica and a wilderness therapy guide in New Hampshire and Maine. He went on to earn a Master of Social Work from Fordham University in New York City, where he gained experience as a school social worker and a counselor at an intensive outpatient clinic. Mark then spent four years at a residential therapeutic school for children and adolescents in Colorado. There, he served dual roles as both a clinical therapist and the admissions manager.

Mark specializes in attachment issues, emotional dysregulation, anxiety, depression, and complex family system issues. Inspired by Open Sky’s humanistic philosophy and family-focused approach, Mark’s goal is to help families harness the skills necessary to make real, lasting change while supporting his client’s growth towards self-actualization. He approaches his clients with patience and playfulness, believing that humor and joy are essential parts of treatment.

Julia Lehr Open Sky Early Adolescent ProgramJulia Lehr, MSSW, CSW, AMFT
Clinical Therapist, Early Adolescent Girls

Drawn to the relational aspects of the therapeutic process, Julia achieved a Master’s of Science in Social Work while specializing in Couples and Family Therapy at the University of Louisville. With a dual theoretical background, Julia views the therapeutic landscape through a multisystemic lens and works to expand the client system to include families in order to increase progress towards treatment goals and create lasting change.

Fueled by both her passion for family therapy, as well as the healing elements of nature, Julia has worked in a variety of roles within the field of wilderness therapy. She has created space for students and families within the role of Field Therapist, Family Therapist, and Primary Therapist from Utah’s West Desert to the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina. Julia pulls from experiential approaches, such as techniques of emotionally focused therapy and animal assisted therapy, to cultivate change. With a background in teaching yoga, she incorporates mindfulness and breathing techniques into her sessions to promote grounding experiences, as well as to support clients in increasing awareness of their external and internal worlds. Julia’s specialties lie in supporting girls struggling with anxiety and depressive disorders, externalized behaviors, extensive trauma histories, attachment issues, and complex relational conflict.

More information about the early adolescent program will be available upcoming on both the Open Sky website and in a special edition of the SKYlights Newsletter. As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our admissions team with questions. They are happy to speak with you at any time.

April 15th, 2021

Lori Armbruster | Communications Director