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Kendall R. E. Smith, MA, LPC, NCC


Kendall knew from a young age that she wanted to be a therapist and to work with people in the outdoors. Growing up outside of Washington, D.C. there were not a lot of examples pointing her toward Wilderness Therapy. She left the big city to earn her undergraduate degree at Colgate University in the heart of New York state—beautiful, rural, and with plenty of opportunity to be in nature.

One summer Kendall worked as a wrangler for a ranch in Steamboat Springs. It was here she fell in love with Colorado, horses, and living in connection to the land. When graduation arrived, she had secured a job as Coordinator of the Cognitive Development Lab at Colorado University in Boulder. While working there she discovered the Transpersonal Counseling Psychology program at Naropa University. To her surprise and delight, there was a track specifically designed for Wilderness Therapy. Over the course of three years in graduate training, Kendall traveled through the West, learning how to utilize different landscapes with different populations and exploring the value in nature-based interventions. During her final year of graduate school, she received a grant to provide experiential therapy workshops to the families of her adolescent clients at the addiction recovery center where she interned.

During graduate school, Kendall spent summers as a wilderness guide for a small program in Boone, North Carolina. Students in this program were children in the foster care system from Miami, Florida. This demanding, wildly rewarding, and challenging work secured Kendall’s career vision to provide holistic, integrated, present-centered, strength-based treatment. She went on to work as a primary therapist at a residential treatment center, as the clinical director for an equine-assisted psychotherapy ranch, as a yoga therapist in a private clinic, and as a college counselor at a prestigious university. When the opportunity arose to move to Durango and work in Open Sky’s Family Services Department, she was delighted to seize it and put her clinical background into practice again in the wilderness.

In her current role as the Family Services Supervisor, Kendall appreciates the opportunity to recruit, train, and develop new staff. She loves to work with families in the field, parents on support calls, and groups of caregivers at Wellness Weekend. One of Kendall’s favorite aspects of her role is teaching family members the skills that students are learning in the field. Her strong belief in the value of the family system and the importance of these foundational relationships inspires her to coach parents, siblings, step-parents, and grandparents on how they can grow alongside the student in the program. This is the reason she joined the Open Sky team. She is continually amazed by the transformative effect of Wilderness Therapy on the family system.

In her time away from work, Kendall loves to practice what she preaches: self-care. She can usually be found far away from technology in the mountains with her therapy dog, Ollie. She also enjoys good food, gardening, travel, visiting family on the East Coast, and soaking in hot springs.


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About Open Sky

Since 2006, Open Sky Wilderness Therapy has been providing the premier family-centered wilderness therapy experience. The Open Sky approach transcends 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 with innovative, well-researched holistic healing practices such as yoga, meditation and mindfulness.