Family involvement is central to treatment at Open Sky: a student’s likelihood of maintaining positive change increases dramatically when the entire family system is engaged in the therapeutic process. Open Sky offers parents a variety of powerful tools and opportunities to support their family’s journey to health. One of these services is Wellness Weekend.
Wellness Weekend, which lasts from Friday through Sunday, provides parents an encapsulated experience parallel to that of their child’s journey at Open Sky. Guided by a team of Open Sky professionals, parents learn about real-life applications to support overall health of the body, mind, heart, and spirit. Outlined below are the defining features of Wellness Weekend, how each one supports the overall health of the family system, and what Open Sky families have to say about their experience.
One of the central messages of Wellness Weekend is that the best way for parents to support their children is for them to reconnect with and care for themselves. Throughout the weekend, families participate in healing and rejuvenating activities, such as psychoeducational presentations, group discussions, yoga, and meditation. These mindfulness practices, which are the same ones that students learn and practice in the field, offer a variety of benefits for mental health and personal growth.
Upon arriving at Wellness Weekend, parents may feel awkward, uncertain, or even isolated. These emotions are similar to what students often feel when first coming to Open Sky. Over the course of the weekend, however, parents begin to open up, share their experiences, and form connections with other families facing similar challenges. They build a sense of community and belonging and come to understand that they are not alone in this journey.
Another core theme of Wellness Weekend is that parents must be able to role model the behavior they expect from their children. With the guidance of Open Sky professionals, parents learn and practice crucial therapeutic skills, such as how to build self-awareness, regulate emotions, and effectively communicate. Wellness Weekend is an emotionally safe space for parents to practice sharing “I feel” statements, complete four-line feelings checks, and engage in reflective listening. These are all requisite skills for repairing family relationships and maintaining boundaries.
The power of family-centered wilderness therapy is that it takes a holistic approach to treating the entire family system, rather than placing all responsibility to heal on the child. When students understand that their parents are also doing their part in the process of family healing, it motivates them to engage more deeply with their own therapeutic work. Reading a parent’s “I feel” statement in a letter or witnessing a parent do a feelings check later ignites a confidence and appreciation in a student.
The tools and skills learned during Wellness Weekend stay with parents long after the weekend ends. They prepare families to meaningfully reconnect at graduation and, for those who choose to participate, enhance the experience of the Family Quest™ intensive. They also support families through their transition out of Open Sky and into their lives back home. Many parents report that the communication and self-regulation skills they learned during Wellness Weekend enhance both their personal and professional lives. Many see their marriages, partnerships, and relationships with other family members improve, as well as find these skills useful when having challenging conversations in the workplace.
Wellness Weekend, which is included in Open Sky’s tuition, is a powerful service that empowers parents to cultivate personal wellness, model healthy behavior, and commit to their own healing. When this happens, the entire family system thrives.
To learn about more cornerstone experiences for families at Open Sky, click here.