Dr. Melia Snyder earned her MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and a Certificate in Expressive Arts Therapy from Appalachian State University. She earned her Ph.D. in Counseling from the University of North Carolina in Charlotte. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Registered Expressive Arts Therapist.
During her doctoral studies, Dr. Melia immersed herself in studying factors and behaviors that contribute to wellness and thriving despite life’s inevitable challenges. She conducted her doctoral research on salutogenesis (the promotion of health) among young women in recovery from substance use disorders. Her study revealed that those who participated in a structured group therapy intervention that incorporated the arts, experienced significant gains in their sense of meaning, coping capacities, and ability to make sense of their lives in comparison to those who just participated in the usual treatment. Dr. Melia is excited to bring her passion for health promotion and the arts to students and families at Open Sky.
Prior to joining the Open Sky team, Dr. Melia was a counselor educator and supervisor in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. She also directed the Appalachian Expressive Arts Therapy program, which teaches counselors, educators, and other helping professionals to incorporate the arts into their work. Her focus within her academic career was bringing the health-promoting capacities of wilderness, nature, and the arts into counseling—a topic she explores in her book Nature-Based Expressive Arts Therapy.
Additionally, Dr. Melia brings more than 15 years of experience working with families in crisis. She has worked in a variety of settings including wilderness, community mental health, integrated care, and private practice. She is trained in Family Centered Treatment and Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and enjoys studying depth psychology and ecopsychology. Dr. Melia was drawn to Open Sky’s strong focus on whole person health, the depth-oriented and nature-based Student Pathway, and the integrity with which families are integrated into treatment.
As a clinical therapist, Dr. Melia shares her expertise in issues relevant to adolescent girls, including cultivating resilience and addressing the need for connection and intimacy in relationships. She is passionate about helping her students develop skills to maneuver the challenges of adolescence, including those associated with technology and social media, body image, and sexuality. As the Education Director at Open Sky, Dr. Melia brings her knowledge and experience to support curriculum development at Open Sky.
In her downtime, Dr. Melia enjoys writing poetry, eating good food, engaging in meaningful conversation, and exploring the beautiful San Juan Mountains with her partner and dog.