Open Sky clinicians have earned Ph.D., Psy.D. or Master’s degrees; are trained in the most current, research-proven methods; and receive continuing education, training, and supervision. Training and specialized subject areas include assessment and diagnosis, adolescent and young adult development, family systems theory, cognitive behavioral therapy, attachment theory, transpersonal psychology, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), substance abuse treatment, motivational interviewing, and Gottman’s marital therapy.
Our clinical team has accumulated decades of experience in wilderness therapy helping students and families. In the field, clinicians provide therapy individually with each student and in groups. One of Open Sky’s core values is community, so the therapist also spends some “down time” with the group sitting around the fire, enjoying a meal together, and participating in daily activities.
Therapy at Open Sky is values driven. Clinicians help students to identify their personal core values and learn how to act on those values. As trust develops, the therapist becomes more challenging about past negative choices and helps the student identify the underlying needs that may be driving their behaviors. A main therapeutic goal is for students to discover and practice meeting their needs in ways that honor their values.
Wilderness therapy is effective for many reasons, one of which is the depth of work in the individual sessions. Students often report that they connect with their wilderness therapist in ways they never imagined possible. This strong relationship fosters greater openness and honesty that translate to a more meaningful therapeutic experience for students and a deeper understanding of themselves and their families.
Each Open Sky therapist spends two full days a week in the field. During that time, he or she will meet individually with each student and facilitate a therapy group with the student’s entire team. As the treatment team leader, the therapist meets with field guides twice a week to direct therapeutic interventions and discuss the student’s progress.
In addition to individual therapeutic sessions, students also participate in group therapy. This is facilitated by primary therapists and field guides throughout the week. The intention for a particular group therapy session may be to process individual, group, or family dynamics, or it may be to educate students about a specific topic and discuss how it relates to each student and the group as a whole. Topics could include value-driven behaviors, healthy communication, effective emotional regulation, stages of grief and loss, and other topics relevant to the group.
Group therapy helps students know they are not alone, find their voice, and begin offering support to others. Group therapy allows students to give and receive support from their peers. This not only normalizes the struggle, but also builds connections. These connections are paramount, as many adolescents have rarely connected with peers or adults who offer values-driven support. Group therapy facilitates the (re)learning of how to relate to oneself and others in healthy ways.