Summer SKYlights is Here!

Welcome to the Summer 2019 issue of SKYlights. In this issue, we shine a light on both new and familiar faces on the Clinical and Field teams, research-based approaches to diverse client profiles, and as always, our inspiring alumni community! We also announce a new and exciting platform to expand the conversation on these topics and more. Join us as we celebrate summer at Open Sky!

Meet Adolescent Boys Therapist, Brian Leidal, MA, LPC

Brian has facilitated over 133 Family Quest™ intensives for parents and families since joining the team in 2016.

Adolescent Boys Clinical Therapist Brian Leidal, MA, LPC has launched Team Kudu! Brian joined the Open Sky team in April 2016 as a Family Services Therapist, facilitating Parent Coaching and more than 133 Family Quest™ intensives for parents and families. In his work as a Clinical Therapist with adolescent boys, Brian utilizes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with a heavy emphasis on the student's current somatic experience. He helps his students to understand how thoughts and thought patterns influence emotions, which then influence behaviors. CLICK HERE to learn more about Brian!

What is Wellness Weekend?

Q&A with Norman Elizondo, Family Wellness Counselor

Article Excerpt:
Even though I was a part of developing Wellness Weekend and leading it since the beginning, it’s really hard for me to take it for granted 13 years later. Every time, people leave telling us it was life-changing. The depth of personal insight and the restoration of hope that can happen in just a three-day experience is astounding. It holds true that everyone benefits from the sense of belonging and connection in the community of parents. Parents leave feeling...

Open Sky Launches SKYlights Podcast!

Open Sky is excited to announce the launch of its SKYlights podcast. In each episode of SKYlights, Open Sky Co-founder and Executive Director, Emily Fernandes, LCSW, thoughtfully guides conversations with clinical therapists, family counselors, directors, field guides, and other experts about key topics related to wilderness therapy and Open Sky’s family systems approach. The model at Open Sky integrates the latest in evidence-based clinical studies with innovative, research-driven mindfulness and holistic healing practices. 

“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to talk with such dynamic and passionate people about topics related to wilderness therapy,” said Emily. “I’m grateful for this platform to share our conversations with a larger audience. It’s exciting that SKYlights podcast offers a unique perspective on the meaningful work happening at Open Sky.”

Select episodes of the bi-weekly podcast will be available anywhere you get your podcasts. To learn more about the SKYlights podcast and to subscribe, visit Open Sky’s podcast page, where you’ll find episode previews, guest profiles, and more information on the topics to be covered in each episode.

Podcast Episode 1 - Game Changer: Utilizing Wilderness Therapy to Treat Adolescent Gaming Disorder

Featuring: Morgan Seymour, LCSW, Clinical Therapist - Adolescent Boys

EPISODE PREVIEW: As electronic screens become ever more pervasive, researchers and parents wonder: How much is too much? Studies show that adolescents who use screens excessively experience an increase in impulsivity, distractibility, and relationship struggles, and a decrease in self-worth and well-being. In this episode, Clinical Therapist Morgan Seymour explains how wilderness therapy helps students address the underlying issues associated with excessive gaming and screen time use.

ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: "I had to step further outside of my comfort zone, dive deeper into my work, and connect with others in ways I had been avoiding for years."

Young Adult Alumni: Julian E., 2018 - reflects on his Open Sky Journey

I was a student at Temple University and had just finished my third year, with little success and connection. I tended to isolate myself and my parents grew concerned. I knew I wanted to get help, but I didn’t know how. We found an educational consultant, who encouraged us to pursue wilderness therapy. He recommended Open Sky, specifically, and mentioned therapist Mariah Loftin by name. He said that it is a safe setting where I would be well looked after and well fed, surrounded by staff that truly cared about my well-being and success. It was a setting where I would get the individual attention I needed as well as opportunities to build relationships within my team community.

When I was young, I was a Boy Scout and so I was comfortable in the wilderness and familiar with some of the skills taught at Open Sky. Despite that familiarity, the first two to three weeks were...

Alumni reConnect Calls Provide Opportunity to Refresh Skills

Alumni reConnect Calls are held the third Thursday of each month. Calls are facilitated by Wellness Counselor Norman Elizondo

This monthly call provides a platform for former students to refresh skills, practice mindfulness techniques and reconnect with others who have experienced the Open Sky journey.

The next Alumni reConnect call is scheduled for July 18! For more information or to participate, click the link below!

Open Sky Featured in West of 105 "The Best of Colorado" Magazine

The summer issue of West of 105 “Best of Colorado” magazine features Open Sky in the Positive Vibes section, which features Colorado companies making a difference. Check us out on pages 12-13 at: West of 105 Magazine!


Team Iris - Adolescent Girls

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

Dr. Melia's clinical approach incorporates her passion for utilizing nature and expressive arts clinically, with a foundation of salutogenesis (the promotion of health). With a rich background of research and clinical experience in these areas, Dr. Melia helps her students develop skills to maneuver the challenges of adolescence, cultivate resilience, and address the need for connection in relationships.

Team Helios - Adolescent Boys

Clinical Director & Therapist Sebastiaan Zuidweg, MA, LPC

As Clinical Director and Therapist for Adolescent Boys, Sebastiaan oversees the Clinical Team and works directly with clients and their families. He utilizes CBT, DBT, and motivational interviewing techniques, working from a solution-oriented and strengths-based approach. Sebastiaan's authentic therapeutic relationships with his clients help motivate change, increase self-awareness, and challenge dysfunctional behavior.

Shout Out to Chris Moeller on 1800+ Field Days at Open Sky!

Previously a Master Senior Field Guide and Program Mentor at Open Sky, Chris Moeller, MS, MSW transitions to the role of Clinical Therapist.

With a career of more than 2,250 days of field guiding and mentoring (1800+ at Open Sky, specifically), Chris Moeller, MS, MSW, has built a unparalleled foundation of wilderness skill and program knowledge. As a Clinical Therapist, Chris uses his field wisdom and clinical expertise to empower others to grow by developing healthy behaviors and living in line with one's values. He connects through his heart and believes in the process because he has seen it work over and over again with students, guides, and himself. By learning to feel and connect in wilderness therapy, Chris provides guidance and compassion to guides, students, and families. Not to be forgotten, Chris's best friend and constant companion, Pippin, has accumulated over 1,000 field days as a therapy dog and continues to be a source of joy and comfort for clients. Congrats to Chris (and Pippin!)

Open Sky Seeks Clinical Therapist to Join Our Team

Open Sky is seeking a passionate Clinical Therapist to join our team. Driven by our core belief that all people have the capacity to thrive, Open Sky provides individuals and their families with the skills needed for lasting success.

To be considered for the Clinical Therapist position, applicants must hold a clinical Ph.D., Psy.D., or Master’s level degree. Applicants must be licensed or able to be licensed in Utah and Colorado. Extensive experience working with family systems, young adults, and/or adolescents is also required, with wilderness therapy experience preferred. Other requirements include openness to mindfulness practices and holistic approaches to care; excellent verbal, writing and presentation skills; and interest in being part of a collaborative and highly-integrated treatment team. Must be living in or willing to relocate to Durango, CO. Must be able to pass a pre-employment drug screen and physical.

To apply: Please email resume, 3 professional references, cover letter, and salary requirements to: This position is open until filled.

For more information on the Clinical Therapist position: CLICK HERE.

Welcome Baby Asher!

Congratulations to Health Director, Margaret Kelso, W-EMT and her husband Josh as they welcomed a baby boy to the family! Baby Asher is happy, sweet and undeniably loved by his parents and big sister, Maysen.

Open Sky Welcomes 19 Guides 

Our Field team is growing, as 19 Apprentice Guides have officially stepped on board. Congratulations to our newest team members! The next Open Sky Guide Orientation will take place September 16-27. To learn more about the role of Guide at Open Sky or to apply: CLICK HERE.

Adolescent Girls Therapist, Kirsten Bolt, MEd, LMFT recently celebrated 8 years at Open Sky! We are excited for the ways Kirsten will continue to support and challenge students in Team Cleo. Congrats, Kirsten!

Congratulations to Transition Age Young Adults Therapist, Chris Blankenship, LCSW on 5 years at Open Sky! We are grateful for the clinical expertise, passion, and humor Chris brings to the team and his clients in Team Eagle!

Guides and students in adolescent boys team, Gaia take a moment to admire the sun setting on our Utah base camp...




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