Open Sky is excited to welcome Dr. Melia Snyder as Clinical Therapist and Education Director!
As Education Director, Dr. Melia will focus on developing an educational curriculum for Open Sky students. As a Clinical Therapist, she will work primarily with young adults as they overcome challenge, form connection in healthy relationships, and begin to thrive.
Dr. Melia is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Registered Expressive Arts Therapist. Much of her training is in Family Centered Treatment and Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She received a Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and a Certificate in Expressive Arts Therapy from Appalachian State University. She continued her education at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte, where she earned a Ph.D. in Counseling.
Throughout her doctoral research, Dr. Melia studied salutogenesis—the promotion of health—among young adults seeking recovery from substance use disorders. Her research found that those who participated in interventions that incorporated the arts saw the greatest gains in their health and recovery.
In her book, Nature-Based Expressive Arts Therapy, Dr. Melia expanded her research to look at the ways the wilderness, combined with the arts, can play an impactful role in treatment for mental health issues. The book explores the health-promoting capacities of wilderness, nature, and the arts in counseling.
Prior to joining the Open Sky team, Dr. Melia worked for 15 years in a variety of settings: wilderness, community mental health, integrated care, and private practice. She served in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program at Appalachian State University as a counselor educator and supervisor and directed the Appalachian Expressive Arts Therapy program. Her wide-ranging education, research, and experience are invaluable assets to her work at Open Sky.
“The values found in Dr. Melia’s professional body of work and in who she is as a person resonate profoundly with Open Sky’s humanistic, wilderness-based approach to health and healing,” said Emily Fernandes, Executive Director. “A gifted clinician and educator, Melia is already enriching Open Sky programming. We look forward to sharing exciting developments in our student and family curriculum in the year to come.”
Dr. Melia looks forward to sharing her passion for health promotion and artistic expression in her work with clients at Open Sky. “The work we do at Open Sky changes lives,” she said. “Outside the distractions of daily living back home, in the direct reality and presence of the wilderness, students learn that they are competent, connected, and resilient.”
“Habitual patterns shift and in that disruption of the norm, there is space for tuning into values, to emotions, to the impact on others, and to the alive world all around,” Dr. Melia added. “In the Utah desert and the mountains and meadows of Southwest Colorado, young people and their families transform the landscape of their lives. This is perhaps the most courageous thing I can imagine, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to be a part of such life-changing work.