Happy New Year from Open Sky!

What a year it will be! As we turn the page to 2019, we invite you to take a moment to catch up on all that's happening at Open Sky. Our first issue of the new year is packed with news, announcements, and a variety of interesting and inspiring articles - all of which will keep you informed! We'll be sharing some exciting news in the months ahead...so be sure to stay tuned to future issues! In the meantime, we wish you happiness, good health, and lots of outdoor adventures in 2019!

How Will Wilderness Benefit Me?

Senior Therapist, Mariah Loftin, MA, LPC Answers Young Adults' FAQs

Q: What’s the point of wilderness? Why not just see a home therapist? 
A: One of the reasons I chose to be a wilderness therapist is because the wilderness setting offers so many unique growth opportunities and constant support that just isn’t found in a traditional office setting. Instead of returning after a session to the same ruts, patterns, social pressures, and/or addictions in your life, you are immersed in...

Keeping it Real: Open Sky's Greenhouse Garden Provides Healthy Food Year Round

Video Preview: At Open Sky, we believe in the healing power of foods, and nutrition is a simple way to teach students about mind-body health. Our menu includes a balance of the highest quality whole foods and organic meats. Our fresh fruits and vegetables are free of pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics and are often grown in Open Sky's greenhouse! Click to learn more! 

Pursuing Their Heart's Work: Assistant Therapists Jenny McDermed and Nick Lenderking-Brill

Matthew Krugh, MSW, Family Services Director

Article Preview: Open Sky Wilderness Therapy is committed to advancing the standards and evidence-based, best practices of the wilderness therapy industry. Part of this commitment is expressed through the clinical internship experience Open Sky offers. We are grateful and excited to have clinical interns Jenny McDermed and Nick Lenderking-Brill on our team as Assistant Therapists. Jenny and Nick are graduate students from...

Cultivating Confidence: How Therapist, Kirsten Bolt Helps Adolescent Girls Thrive

Kirsten Bolt, M.Ed., LMFT, Senior Therapist, Adolescent Girls

Q: What led you to pursue a career as a wilderness therapist? 
A: I fell into wilderness therapy as a field guide during a transitional time in my life. I was drawn to the individual mentorship and intimate, personal conversations with students. I also enjoyed the often dynamic and challenging work with families. My heart was committed to...

Kim Kelley is now an EMDR Certified Therapist

We are thrilled to announce that adolescent girls therapist, Kim Kelley, M.Ed., LPC is now a certified EMDR therapist. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an effective treatment for a variety of traumas and other issues, including anxiety, depression, and grief. Kim is now one of only about 4,000 certified EMDR practitioners—a huge accomplishment!   

“This prestigious EMDR certification is the highest level of training available in this discipline, and is representative of Kim’s decades-long commitment to excellence,” says Open Sky Executive Director, Emily Fernandes. “Kim’s warm and humble nature and dedication to her clients is an inspiration. We are so grateful for the many ways Kim enriches the Open Sky community.”  Congratulations, Kim! 

Chris Blankenship Authors Chapter in Upcoming Book on Eco-Informed Clinical Practice

Eco-informed Clinical Practice: Family Therapy in an Age of Ecological Peril, edited by Markie L.C. Twist and Tracey A. Laszloffy, will be published spring 2019.

Therapist Chris Blankenship, LCSW has penned a chapter for the book, titled, “Wilderness and Adventure Immersion Therapy”. This chapter examines wilderness philosophy and the benefits of having sustained, immersive contact in and with nature. Examples of different ways that people can have these experiences are described.

Chris also discusses some of the challenges and barriers that people commonly face when they strive to disengage from modern society and immerse themselves in nature. Strategies are offered to negotiate around and through these challenges and barriers.

Clinical Therapist, Chris Blankenship, LCSW works with transition age young adults (18-20). Click HERE to learn more about Chris and his approach with this specific population.

Morgan Robak Begins Blog Series Entitled: Game Changers: Strategies to Treat Gaming Addiction through Wilderness Therapy

In June 2018, the World Health Organization included “gaming disorder” in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases. This sparked debate amongst medical, scientific, and mental health experts: can unhealthy gaming behavior be classified as a clinical disorder? Or are these patterns indicators of other mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and ADHD?

In her upcoming blog series, "Game Changers" adolescent boys therapist, Morgan Robak, LCSW will explore emerging trends and research on mental health and adolescent gaming. Morgan will further identify how wilderness therapy can be an effective intervention and outline strategies to support adolescents in establishing healthy screen habits at home and beyond.

Morgan's "Game Changers" blog series will begin in early 2019. Interested in other topics? Check out Open Sky's comprehensive blog archive.

Dr. Aaron Wallis Featured Guest on "In the Trenches" Podcast

Young Adults Therapist, Aaron Wallis, PhD, LP was recently featured in the podcast, “In the Trenches” with Andrew Taylor. In the episode, Dr. Aaron Wallis - The effects of cannabis and the science of motivation, Dr. Wallis discusses the common myths surrounding recreational cannabis use and the science behind motivation. 

"Dr. Aaron Wallis knows more about the science behind recreational cannabis use than anyone I know....We really get into the weeds in this interview. He's able to clarify some of the myths around casual and heavy cannabis use. Just for fun at the end we get into some of the science behind motivation and lack thereof," said Taylor. Click here to access the full podcast. 

To learn more about these two topics, check out Dr. Wallis’s blogs: Marijuana: Clearing up the Smoke and Deconstructing Motivation.

Jonathan Mitchell Celebrates 9 years at Open Sky!

Congratulations to adolescent boys therapist, Jonathan Mitchell, MA, LPC on 9 years at Open Sky! We are grateful for your incredible contributions to students, families, and the Open Sky community!

"You really understood our son from the start. You were transparent and built a beautiful relationship with him and with us. This has been by far our son's best, most productive experience with a therapist. You are a part of our family." - Alumni Parent, 2018

"Jonathan was excellent! He is a master at facilitating conversation. There isn't enough paper to explain all of the wonderful characteristics he possesses. An experienced, knowledgeable, and professional therapist." - Alumni Parent, 2016

"Best therapist, I've ever had. Jonathan helped me find joy as well as the benefits of engaging in weekly therapy." - Alumni Student, 2014

Where Are They Now? Checking in with Alumni Student, Mia K.

In her own words: “Open Sky probably saved my life. Coming into Open Sky, I had depression and anxiety and I was suicidal. I was disrespectful and rude to my family. I spent a total of 10 weeks at Open Sky last winter in Team Cleo with therapist, Kirsten Bolt. Open Sky introduced me to new friendships and a loving passion for hiking, nature, yoga, meditation, fire busting, etc. I also became closer with my family. A highlight was doing a challenge hike the week before my graduation: we hiked a total of 13 miles in 8 hours. It was the best experience of my entire life! After Open Sky, I went to a residential program, graduated then came back to Seattle and started high school. I have had some bumps along the way but I’m doing really well. I'm eternally grateful for Open Sky.” 

Open Sky Welcomes Joanna Rupe as Chief Human Resource Officer

Open Sky is excited to welcome Joanna Rupe, SPHR-CA, SHRM-SCP as Chief Human Resource Officer. Joanna joined the Open Sky team in the fall, bringing more than 20 years of HR management experience to her role.

"Joanna’s depth of experience and quality of character have been a wonderful addition to our executive team and the organization as a whole. She is dedicated to providing leadership and innovation through Human Resources and to reflect our commitment to excellence," shares Tom Holcomb, Chief Operating Officer.

Joanna is excited to provide advanced support in meeting our growing organizational needs. Welcome, Joanna!

Did You Know?

Southeastern Utah provides the perfect climate for wilderness therapy in the winter! Unlike its snowier Colorado counterpart, snow accumulation at our Utah base camp typically does not exceed 4 inches...and is often less than that. Throughout the fall and winter months, average daily high temperatures range from 42 to 67 degrees F. Our industrial wall tents and teepees offer warm spaces to sleep, practice yoga, cook, eat, and hold groups in inclement weather. Potbelly stoves heat our industrial wall tents up to 80 degrees and teepees up to 70 degrees!

We'll See You There...

Team Open Sky looks forward to learning and connecting at the 2019 NATSAP Conference in San Antonio, Texas, January 30 - February 1. Open Sky Program Director, Danny Frazer will participate as a panelist in a session, titled, “The Future of Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare,” Wednesday, January 30 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Don't miss this engaging conversation with Danny and other members of the OBH Council board! See you there!