Open Sky Family Wellness Counselor Norman Elizondo was recently featured on the podcast, “Stories from the Field: Demystifying Wilderness Therapy”. In this podcast episode, listeners get a glimpse into Norman’s past and how he found his way to a career in wilderness therapy.
Norman immigrated to the U.S. from the Philippines when he was six years old. A “city kid” from Manila and Chicago, Norman didn’t have the upbringing you’d expect of someone who would become an expert field guide, experiential education instructor, and innovator in the field of wilderness therapy. Since his time as a field guide, he moved up the ranks into field leadership positions and would eventually co-found Open Sky Wilderness Therapy in 2006.
Norman’s conversation with podcast host, Dr. Will White, includes stories from these experiences, his perspective as a minority in this field, and advice for those who want to pursue work in wilderness therapy.
Norman also discusses his passion for mindfulness and meditation, and its integral role in his career path in wilderness therapy. “I believe that [my meditation] practice has helped with my longevity, in terms of keeping my heart open, or at least noticing when it’s starting to shut,” he shared. “And—this is why good therapy works—this moment where we can accept things exactly as they are, before changing it. Then the whole manner in which trying to change it unfolds in a completely different way, when there’s that moment of unconditional love given toward the person or the situation.”
When asked to provide his definition of wilderness therapy, Norman responds: “It’s one of modern man’s expressions and attempts at getting back into connection with what is sacred. Wilderness therapy helps people do that by immersing them in a place where the natural world is unavoidable. There’s the sacredness of connection to other humans. There’s an environment provided that instigates genuine connection, communication, and love.”
“Stories from the Field: Demystifying Wilderness Therapy” is a podcast that educates listeners on the history of wilderness therapy and various trends related to outdoor therapeutic treatment. Dr. White interviews wilderness therapy researchers, program founders, field guides, clinicians, and others on a variety of wilderness therapy–related topics. Dr. White has worked in wilderness therapy for more than 30 years, co-founded a wilderness therapy program in the 1990s, and is a published author.
To access Dr. White’s interview with Norman Elizondo, visit “Stories from the Field” or listen on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. To hear more from Norman about his work at Open Sky, listen to episode 2 of Open Sky’s SKYlights podcast: “Mindfulness, Meditation, and other Superpowers”. And, be sure to catch his three-part guided meditation series!