Justin Messinger, LCMHC Provides Neurodiversity-Informed Treatment at Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness
Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness Primary Therapist, Justin Messinger, LCMHC, works with adolescent boys with neurodevelopmental and learning differences. Justin’s work draws from a therapeutic curriculum he developed to specifically address the needs of this student population. This curriculum not only generates a culture of belonging and community for his students but also helps each member of the treatment team understand the subtle differences associated with providing neurodiversity-informed care in the wilderness.
Justin explains: “We provide and teach a clinically sophisticated approach: this model honors individuals’ differences in a setting that nurtures social learning, allows for the practice of relationship management, allows students to experience genuine connection, and helps students learn to navigate social nuances through relational success and challenge.”
By incorporating this approach with ongoing, interdepartmental staff training, Justin empowers each member of the Blue Ridge team to better support this group of students. Building upon foundational concepts from Social Thinking Theory, Justin’s students are met with compassion, curiosity, and unconditional positive regard in the wilderness.
Justin continues, “Simply put, I notice nuances and practice the art of not assuming. The traditional premise of therapy is hard for my students to conceptualize. Often, their experience involves difficulty seeing the point of therapy or why it’s needed. Building trust and rapport needs to look different with this population. When they don’t feel rushed, judged, and or invalidated, the pressure that is ever present for many of these students is relieved and rapport begins to develop, and we consistently attend and attune to how each student experiences relational pressure. Responding intentionally to these cues helps to create resilience, which sparks social confidence and increases the likelihood of positive engagement.”
About Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness
Located in the North Georgia and Western North Carolina mountains, Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness is a licensed treatment program that provides sophisticated clinical treatment in an immersive nomadic wilderness model. Foundational transformation for families occurs through utilizing individualized clinical treatment, together with intensive family-focused support, and whole-body health and wellness.