Learning to Thrive

How do we adapt and thrive in a changing landscape? How can we build resilience, support ourselves, and strengthen our families in times of uncertainty? In addition to interviews, staff spotlights, and articles from our clinical experts, this edition of SKYlights is full of strategies to help individuals thrive. Whether supporting a child in or post-treatment, helping a child to navigate virtual school or college, or learning new communication tools to strengthen your family relationships, this issue has something for you!

College Interrupted: Helping Young Adults Navigate a Not-So-Normal College Year 

Young Adults Clinical Team • Open Sky Wilderness Therapy

Article Excerpt: Even without COVID and its mental health and academic impacts, transitioning to college can be a struggle. According to a study by the American Psychological Association, 61% of college students seeking counseling reported having anxiety. A survey of college presidents found that the most frequent mental health issues on campus were anxiety, depression, substance addiction, food insecurity, and suicidal ideation. Combined with the added stress and unpredictability brought on by COVID, it’s safe to say these mental health issues are enhanced. In fact, a study conducted by the nonprofit Active Minds found that one in five college students say their mental health has significantly worsened during the coronavirus pandemic. What can parents do to help? Click below to learn more!

Back to School, Pt.1: Tips to Support your Child with Virtual Learning

Jonathan Mitchell, MA, LPC • Senior Clinical Therapist • Adolescent Boys

Article Excerpt: It’s that time of year. School has started up again...but with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the start of the school year is anything but typical. With many schools moving to virtual platforms, parents are grappling with how to set their kids up for success: academically, socially, emotionally, and physically. In part 1 of our 2-part “Back to School” series, Clinical Therapist Jonathan Mitchell shares tips with parents seeking to create a supportive and structured environment for their child attending school, virtually...

Academics at Open Sky: Outdoor Classroom Offers Unparalleled Opportunities for Learning 

Melia Snyder, PhD, LPC, REAT • Education Director & Clinical Therapist

Students have the opportunity to earn 3.5 high school credits in six academic subject areas.

Article Excerpt:
Each student is unique and our therapeutic and academic approaches are individualized to each person’s needs and learning styles. Our method is very dynamic and experiential, with a lot of opportunity for reflective learning...Some learn better kinesthetically, so we can support them in that by getting them up and moving. We can take many different angles to approach learning and meet students where they are. In the process, we help to shore up deficits, but more significantly...

Coming Full Circle: Get to Know Therapist Sam Verutti

Sam Verutti, MSW • Clinical & Family Services Therapist • Adolescent Boys

Meet Sam Verutti, MSW, clinical therapist for adolescent boys at Open Sky. Sam’s clinical approach is enriched by his childhood immersed in the outdoors, his experience as a wilderness therapy student, and over three years working as an Open Sky field guide. His journey has come full circle since earning his Master’s of Social Work degree and returning to Open Sky as a family services therapist and clinical therapist. Learn more about Sam's journey...

Clinical Corner: Treating Emerging Cluster B Personality Disorders in Wilderness Therapy

Kirsten Bolt, MEd, LMFT • Senior Clinical Therapist • Adolescent Girls

Article Excerpt: Wilderness therapy is a unique and highly effective setting for helping this population because we create a contained and supervised microcosm of the home environment. Students with emerging Cluster B personality disorders show their problematic behavioral patterns so clearly in this environment, allowing us to address them on a daily basis. Therefore, these students have the opportunity to experience success beginning in...

Do you have a Communication Toolbox?

On episode 19 of the SKYlights Podcast, therapist Nick Lenderking-Brill walks us through a set of specific skills to include in your “communication toolbox” and tangible tips for implementing them into your relationships. Nick shares helpful tools to practice, whether relationships are challenging or smooth.

Tune in to begin building your own communication toolbox!

How can I support my child in treatment?

The first thing you can do after your child has enrolled in wilderness is BREATHE. Acknowledge this transition and the courage it took to get here. What next? In episode 20, therapist Mariah Loftin gives guidance on how to support yourself and your child while he or she is in wilderness therapy. She explains how both students and parents can cycle through the stages of grief as they adjust to this new phase in their life. We address the common fears parents experience about sending their child to wilderness and the growth opportunities their family can expect. 

How can I support my child's transition post treatment?

While your child is in wilderness therapy treatment, a big question mark can be: “what next?” Whether transitioning home, to school, or to an aftercare program, how can parents foster a healthy environment for their child to continue thriving? In episode 21, therapist Chris Blankenship answers common questions parents have while preparing for their child to graduate wilderness therapy. With the right approach, parents can help their child continue the skills, growth, and progress gained in wilderness therapy treatment, no matter what the next steps are.

Alex Bond
5 years at Open Sky!

We are honored to recognize Assistant Field Director & Field Guide Recruiter Alex Bond for five years at Open Sky! Alex began at Open Sky as a field guide, a role in which he valued the intimate connection to nature, others, and himself. He now shares his love for wilderness therapy with field guide applicants through the interview process and orientation, assessing for the important skills and character required for the role. His efforts have culminated into a deep and robust Field Team!

"The passion that Alex demonstrates for wilderness therapy is without a doubt part of what inspires our recruits to want to become part of Open Sky. He embraces the challenge of recruiting with excitement and competence."
- Joanna Rupe, Chief HR Officer

Leah Dworkin
5 years at Open Sky!

Help us congratulate Assistant Field Director Leah Dworkin on five years at Open Sky! Starting out as a guide in 2015, Leah accrued more than 400 field days. In her current role, she focuses on staff development, integrating her passions of wilderness and mentorship. In this role, she is an advocate for guides in their personal and professional growth. Her leadership empowers guides to boldly step into their own leadership potential, directly supporting the needs and growth of our students. 

"Leah exemplifies passion and determination for the work we do. Her strong leadership and deep connection to the outdoors inspires guides to thrive and find success within, as guides and as humans."
- Tori Moon, Assistant Field Director

Team Kudu (adolescent boys) on expo in early August! 
"The climb speaks to our character, but the view, I think, to our souls."
     - Lori Lansens, The Mountain Story

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