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Open Sky to Present at 2019 Wilderness Therapy Symposium

The Open Sky Team

Featured Team Members: Norman Elizondo, BS | Danny Frazer, BBA | Emily D. Fernandes, MSW,

This week at the Wilderness Therapy Symposium, catch presentations by Family Wellness Counselor, Norman Elizondo; Program Director, Danny Frazer; and Executive Director, Emily Fernandes! Details on their presentations are below. Open Sky is proud to be a member of the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Council, committed to collaborating with others in the industry on best practices and effective treatment in wilderness therapy. We are also thrilled to be a sponsor of the Friday night Jumping Mouse Ceremony and Celebration!


The Words That Scare You; A Mindfulness Approach to Discussing Race, Power and Privilege

Thursday, 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM | Location: Painted Horse

Norman Elizondo

Participants will learn how to use somatic meditation to resource themselves when discussing the emotionally charged topics of race, power and privilege.


Cultivating a Resilient and Effective Risk Management Culture

Friday, 9:00 AM – 10:30 AM | Location: Kokopelli 3

Danny Frazer

This workshop will be targeting a wide audience from administrators, admissions, clinical, field staff, medical staff and owners/partners. Participants will come away with a broader, more inclusive perspective on risk management as well as take away priorities for the risk management goals unique to their role and organization. We will discuss what risk is, how it is inherent in what we do, regardless of our program methodology and the role risk plays in outdoor behavioral healthcare. Introduce the evolution of risk management thinking including the more recent emergence that the culture of an organization is a leading contributor to successfully managing risk. We will look at our field as a whole compared to other adventure activities and sports programming and how we differ and what we can learn from one another. Discuss how to create and manage a risk management committee (which is a requirement for all AEE OBH Accredited programs), including the role of independent external team members, using data to inform decision making as well the role case studies can play to promote dialogue and program risk management practices. Do exercises utilizing a triage system (aka “heat map”) to determine high priority risk management issues for any/every facet of your organization.


Diversity Ed. Session #2: Are We Really Prepared to Treat the Marginalized Clientele We So Enthusiastically Seek

Friday, 2:15 PM – 5:15 PM | Location: Kokopelli 3

Emily Fernandes, LCSW will participate on a panel of current clinical leaders in the field of wilderness therapy, led by Dr. Dante Bryant. 

This session will focus on the importance of understanding the specifics of racial issues and their effects on mental health treatment in OBH programs. This presentation will use a unique format in which attendees have the opportunity to observe a group of leading wilderness therapists process with one another and this year’s keynote speaker and diversity educator, Dr. Dante Bryant. The group will explore their own beliefs, biases, values and personal ideologies and how they influence their and their programs’ treatment approaches. They will examine potentially marginalizing practices within wilderness therapy and explore how race and racial generational trauma plays a crucial role in one’s treatment approach with marginalized populations. And finally, they will challenge their beliefs, many of the common wilderness therapy practices and the therapeutic approaches of wilderness therapy and discuss alternative methods to potentially marginalized behavioral or cognitive conceptions. Attendees will be invited to offer observations and ask questions towards the end of the presentation.


Mindful Leadership

Friday, 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM | Location: Kokopelli 2

Norman Elizondo & Josh White (Red Mountain Sedona)

Just as we understand that there are inherent qualities that make someone a good leader, so too do we know that effective leadership qualities can be taught and therefore cultivated. As program administrators, group leaders and others in the “helper” role, we cannot ignore the influence we have on those with whom we work. As such, it is imperative that we approach our role with patience, integrity and “egolessness.” For leaders who find themselves struggling to embody the qualities of a “servant leader,” attending this presentation will help address the common pitfalls of leadership and will focus on how to better empathize with and ultimately inspire their constituents.


Closing Ceremony

Saturday, 3:00 PM – 3:20 PM | Location: Kokopelli 3

Our own Norman Elizondo will be leading the closing ceremony!

August 20th, 2019

The Open Sky Team