What's Blooming at Open Sky?

Spring! Daylight hours are longer, nights are warmer, and the cycle of growth begins once again in the flowers and trees that surround us. The beautiful season of spring (and soon, summer) is upon us! Check out this month’s SKYlights to find out what's been "blooming" at Open Sky!

How Wilderness Therapy Helps Young Adult Women with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Chris Blankenship, LCSW, Clinical Therapist - Transition Age Young Adults

Article excerpt:

The first step to managing a neuro-atypical disorder like autism is obtaining an accurate diagnosis. Generally, females are diagnosed with ASD less frequently than their male counterparts because they tend not to display some of the restricted or repetitive behaviors that males do. ASD symptoms in young adult females often look different: a delay in maturation, attentional or executive functioning issues, and anxiety and mood disorders, for instance.

Wilderness therapy is an effective environment for assessment because students receive around-the-clock monitoring from trained staff, are removed from their regular sources of soothing, and are immersed in a peer group...

Alumni Spotlight: "Chris helped me discover who I am..."

Meghan W., 2019 - Team Eagle  (Transition Age Young Adults)

Open Sky honestly changed my life. When I first arrived, I had lost most of my self-confidence. I did not believe that I could do anything. Then I was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and I felt like I had found a missing part of myself, but I still struggled to grasp it.
Chris [Blankenship] helped me discover who I am and taught me how to be the best version of me… I left a confident young adult who felt like she could conquer the world and overcome anything. I am now back at college. Next semester, I am going to student teach and get my teaching degree. The following year I plan to get my master’s in special education and help teach students like me. Open Sky prepared me for...

Open Sky Welcomes Beth Walker, MA, LPCC, to the Clinical and Family Services Team

Beth grew up exploring the mountain trails and waterfalls woven throughout the Appalachian regions of Tennessee and North Carolina. She has continued to find solace and joy in the outdoors since. After earning a Bachelor of Science in Journalism and Psychology at Tennessee Tech University and a certificate in Worldview, Leadership, and Marriage/Family studies at the former Focus on the Family Institute in Colorado Springs, Beth pursued a Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Appalachian State University. As part of her program, she completed a certificate in Expressive Arts Therapy, with a special focus in nature-based therapies, and a concentration in Body-Centered Therapy. Simultaneously, she completed a 9-month yoga teacher training and is a Yoga Alliance-approved Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT-200). She is a Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC), a Licensed Professional...CLICK TO READ MORE

Do you know someone who's ready to make a difference? Open Sky is hiring Field Guides

Candidates for Open Sky’s guide orientations possess a wide range of professional backgrounds and encompass a diverse and unique array of skills. The vast majority of field guide applicants have professional experience working with youth in wilderness and therapeutic environments. Open Sky seeks out and provides mentorship for applicants who are passionate, professional, resilient, and above all, show a willingness to give and receive honest feedback. Ready to learn more? Check out our Careers page!

Field Notes: Senior Guide, Dylan Cohen reflects on life in the trenches at Open Sky

I've worked with adolescent boys since I started as a guide. Just like with every relationship, my connection to students starts off with a lot of rapport building, no matter their struggles or diagnoses. I let them know that ultimately, I’m on their side. By no means is my role the “disciplinarian”. I’m out there to help them become better people and figure themselves out in a deeper way. I’m there to create and uphold a culture of physical and emotional safety. Once I establish that we’re all on the same side...


Congrats to Kim Kelley on 2 years at Open Sky!

Adolescent Girls Therapist, Kim Kelley, M.Ed., LPC, EMDR Certified, celebrates two years at Open Sky this month!

"Kim was amazing! Our family has worked with many clinicians over the years and Kim really stands out. Her exceptional insight, direct support comments, and deep expertise came through on every call. Equally important it felt like she really knew our daughter and her strengths and challenges."
- Alumni parent, 2018

"Kim is the best therapist we have ever dealt with. She was insightful in assessing our daughter's issues and developing a plan for her. She effectively managed her treatment and relationship with us, pushing back effectively as needed. We were thrilled to work with Kim and will miss her!"
- Alumni parent, 2018

Open Sky Launches Monthly reConnect call for Alumni Students

Open Sky is pleased to launch the Thursday Night Alumni reConnect Call! This call provides a platform for alumni students to refresh their centering skills and practice mindfulness techniques learned at Open Sky. Additionally, the hour-long call will include time for alumni to check-in.

Family Wellness Counselor, Norman Elizondo will facilitate the call at 7:00 p.m. Mountain Time on the 3rd Thursday of every month.

Mark your calendars! The first call is May 16! If you are an alumni student and would like more information, contact: alumnirelations@openskywilderness.com

Talking about Cannabis in the Age of Legalization

Clinical Therapist, Dr. Aaron Wallis had the wonderful opportunity to present to the Family Rockstars in Denver, a group of dedicated family therapy professionals. His presentation was titled: “How to Talk about Cannabis in the Age of Legalization”. We’re grateful for the ways Dr. Aaron can share his knowledge, continued research, and passion for the benefit of families and professionals across the country!

Community Leadership

The local Region 9 Economic Development District of Southwest Colorado recently celebrated 30 years. Open Sky is proud to have an influential impact in the development of the Durango community. We were honored to be represented at the event by Open Sky Program Director, Danny Frazer. We love our Durango and are passionate about Open Sky's impact on our local community!

Senior Therapist, Mariah Loftin, MA, LPC, featured in the online series, Beyond Addiction

Open Sky Therapist, Mariah Loftin was interviewed recently by Sally Dyer for her series, Beyond Addiction, Help Your Teen or Young Adult Overcome Anxiety, Depression, Drug Use and Thrive in Their Life!  This online series features 21 industry experts sharing their personal stories and solutions to help struggling teens and young adults.

Topics include: wilderness programs, therapeutic boarding schools, the latest research on marijuana, available support groups, different types of therapy for anxiety, depression, and much more.

To subscribe to this free series, click the link! Beyond Addiction Series.

Congrats to Morgan Seymour on 2 Years at Open Sky!

Adolescent Boys Therapist, Morgan Seymour, LCSW celebrated two years at Open Sky last month! 
“Morgan is a compassionate and understanding person, who's tough when she needs to be and knows and understands what's best for me.”
Alumni student, 2018

“Morgan created an environment of trust and challenged and taught us how to grow as our son was in the program. I can't say enough about her ability to connect with our family.”
Alumni parent, 2017
“Morgan was a pro in every way. The most stand-out quality of her care from my point of view is the trust she established with our son, which allowed him to engage and grow. Her calls always included individualized care for my husband and me. We are enormously grateful. Words are inadequate.”
Alumni Parent, 2018