All Kinds of News for September 15, 2021
Hello Colleagues and Friends,
After 18 years of consulting and over 40 as a mental health professional, I have decided to retire at the end of the summer, 2021. It has been a good long run and a pleasure to work with so many of you. I especially want to thank all of the admissions folks and therapists that I have gotten to know personally and grown to trust through our collaboration. Your professionalism and positive relationships with my families have made such a difference in their lives!
Thank you to all of the treatment programs that have generously hosted me over the years. It has been great to travel to so many beautiful places, get to know your programs, and meet your staff and clients in person. Tours and lunches with the kids were always a highlight (and delicious dinners with all of you, of course!).
Connie Wood, MS, at 248-519-1212 (circleofhope.net) and Hannah Mariotti, MA, at 973-495-1935 (schaffeldconsulting.com) will be receiving any of my new referrals.
My retirement plans/dreams include devoting more time to music and starting a band, caravanning around the country with friends in our campers, spending part of my Vermont winter in warm places, and lots more time with family and friends.
Please reach out if you are in Vermont, it would be great to see you!
Wishing you well, peace and happiness,
Kris Karge, LCSW
blueFire Wilderness, a wilderness therapy program for adolescents and teens ages 11-17, now offers report cards for middle schoolers as part of their academic programming. Academics at blueFire are presented through Dorius Academy, a Cognia-accredited program.
Wilderness therapy allows for hands-on, experiential learning that often serves clients well who may have struggled in a traditional classroom setting; upon admission to the program, clients at blueFire will receive a Learning Styles Assessment to better understand their strengths and weaknesses in education. Academic goals are included in each client's treatment plan as part of their overall journey.
Middle school clients can now receive report cards in traditional subjects such as Physical Education, English/Language Arts, Environmental Science, Psychology Daily Living, and Character Education. Report cards include the subject area, credit earned, and letter grade.
“Providing report cards to parents can help them get a better understanding of their child’s strengths as they prepare for their transition back to their home schools,” said Reid Treadaway, Director of Admissions at blueFire. “Parents can be assured that their child’s education is still being prioritized while in treatment.”
Experiential-based learning programs can help provide clients with a more positive educational experience that makes the transition back to their home schools easier. The opportunity to reset in nature and discover new ways of learning can initiate a client’s long-term success.
To learn more about programming at blueFire Wilderness, please visit bluefirewilderness.com or call (844) 413-1999 for more information.
About blueFire Wilderness
blueFire Wilderness is a wilderness therapy program based just outside of Boise, Idaho that offers teens ages 11-17 a comprehensive adventure experience. BlueFire Wilderness combines clinical expertise, academic assessments, and a family systems approach to help teens struggling with emotional, behavioral and social challenges.
Instead of celebrating International Podcast Day on September 30th, Joanna Lilley, of Lilley Consulting, and host of the Success is Subjective Podcast, opted to expand to celebrating September as “International Podcast Month.” During the month of September, listeners can catch a new episode each day of the work week throughout the entire month.
The creation of the Success is Subjective podcast started years before the first episode launched on February 3, 2020. In fact, in really started back in 2003 as Joanna started her own post-secondary journey. When asking Joanna about the premise behind the series, she said “this is everyone’s story. Most people didn’t go through their emerging adult years unscathed. A lot of people took breaks during college, or just didn’t go to college at all. I wanted to highlight that. That is a normal experience. As a society we put so much pressure on young adults to be ‘successful,’ yet success is so nebulous.”
This podcast was designed to reach the audience of young adults themselves, just as much as the parents of young adults. If anyone you know is contemplating what to do after high school, to potentially step away from college mid-study, or really struggling to find their path after earning a degree, you can find at least one episode on Success is Subjective that may bring hope, guidance, and relief. Life is not linear, and now that we’re living through a pandemic, what future success looks like is now even more ambiguous.
Episode 78 will kick off the series on September 1 for this self-proclaimed International Podcast Month. Anyone can find the published episodes on all podcast playing platforms (Amazon, Apple, Audile, Google, iHeart Radio, Spotify, Stitcher, and TuneIn Radio). You can also find each episode on the Lilley Consulting website.
About Lilley Consulting
Since 2016, Lilley Consulting has been helping families and young adults find treatment options during a time of transition or crisis. Joanna dedicates herself to working solely with emerging adults who unravel before going to college, when they land on a college campus, or right after college graduation. Young Adulthood can be messy, but it doesn’t have to be if you find the best treatment resources at the time that you need them.
Board Chair Jennifer Taylor is praising the Education Committee’s dedication and enthusiasm for next year’s Annual TCA Training. “Our annual training is back! This group of TCA Members, who stepped up to plan the largest ever TCA training, are going the extra mile for TCA.”
The training has moved to Denver to provide a variety of location, a new area for program and school touring, and for the amazing Keynote Speaker who lives in the Front Range Colorado area. The Annual training is planned to be in-person for March 29 and 30, 2022. The theme is “Consulting with Purpose.”
The Keynote Speaker is Zach Mercurio, author of “The Invisible Leader.” Zach’s speaking, training, and consulting programs forge purposeful leaders and positive organizations that activate more meaning, motivation, well-being, and performance in work and life. Zach will spend a half-day leading the attendees in a workshop specifically to support a therapeutic consultant’s personal and professional life. “As someone who has read this book and knows Zach personally and professionally, I truly believe this year’s guest speaker will be profound. I foresee this helping facilitate ongoing conversations within TCA about our individual and larger group purpose,” said Joanna Lilley, Treasurer of TCA.
In addition to Zach's workshop, the evening before is a round-table “speed dating” event of short introductions to therapeutic programs and consultants. It is a casual way to connect with clinicians and directors of programs, as well with the attendees, to kick off the event.
The second half of the conference day is expected to be an ongoing discussion about TCA's theme with presentations by members. As is customary, the final hours are updates by the Board and renewal of the hallmark themes of TCA: Ethics, Collaboration, Research & Life-long Learning.
TCA has grown to a membership of over 70 experienced therapeutic consultants, and they expect a majority to attend. TCA’s training is open to any referring professional who wants to attend. Membership in TCA is not a prerequisite. In fact, TCA invites newcomers who want to see what the organization is all about.
The Therapeutic Consulting Association (TCA) is a professional organization of experienced referring consultants with independent practices of various expertise. Our values are driven by 4 Pillars:
- Ethics, and
Our goal is to continually increase the value of a consultant to our community and to our program colleagues by challenging standards and trends. We are the leading-edge experts on independent educational and therapeutic consulting.
Denver, Colorado: Wonder – A Confident Living Company today announced a new program called Wonderland - A National Program. Wonderland expands Wonder’s unique approach to families outside their 7 home regions. This program is geared to provide virtual and in-person support to youth, parents, and families using Wonder’s systemic, relational, and activity-based approach. Wonder’s team creatively utilizes activity-based coaching in virtual sessions to keep youth engaged with the work. Coaches will travel to support families in their home environment with activities that will shift long-standing patterns and bring about healing.
“We’ve wanted to support families outside of our home regions and this program allows us to use our approach creatively, both virtually and in person. We are excited to reach more families!” says Dave Herz, Founder at Wonder.
Wonder has also released a new website with expanded information on their history, approach, expanded clinical teams, enrollment process, and enhanced programming. This new look and deeper dive into the company will provide more insight into Wonder’s ethos and focus of clinical work as well as easier opportunities for connecting with fellow professionals and families.
Wonderland - A National Program is available immediately. For more information, visit http://www.TeamWonder.org
Wonder is a national counseling organization dedicated to providing modern, dynamic therapy and coaching to distressed families, teens, and young adults. Wonder provides a continuum of care from early intervention to helping support transition home from an inpatient level of care. For more information, visit Wonder’s website at http://www.TeamWonder.org
On August 26th, as the National Wilderness Therapy Symposium in Park City, Utah commenced, Summit Achievement co-founder Will White was awarded the prestigious Eagle Award by the OBH Council. The Eagle Award is given by the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Council (OBH Council) to an individual for their service and contribution to the field of Wilderness Therapy. Will White has been a professional in the field of Wilderness Therapy for over three decades. Over the years, his research into the methods and history of therapeutic programs, his writings on the topic, his well-known podcast, his volunteerism on the OBH Council and the NATSAP Board, and his work with hundreds of families, have left a lasting impression on Wilderness Therapy, and helped to shape the future of the field.
The OBH Council knows that Will believes that Wilderness Therapy is the most effective mental health treatment for struggling young people. Will is a passionate advocate for the field, the author of the book, "Stories from the Field: A History of Wilderness Therapy" and the host of the podcast, "Stories from the Field: Demystifying Wilderness Therapy."
Will accepted the 2021 Eagle Award in Park City, Utah surrounded by peers and colleagues from the field of Wilderness Therapy who are fortunate to call Will a friend, a mentor, and a leader. When he accepted the award he remarked, "My family, the team at Summit Achievement, and those who have shared their stories on the podcast and book share this with me as they supported and helped me along the way. Thank you."
About Summit Achievement
Summit Achievement is, and always has been, guided by positive reinforcement and the power of choice. Our outcome-focused program employs effective therapeutic and educational principles. Through the process of engaging therapy, classroom academics, and exciting wilderness expeditions, students experience the therapeutic benefits of outdoor adventure-based activities while learning to manage the demands of a more traditional environment. As an intentionally small, owner-operated wilderness therapy program, we serve adolescent boys and girls, ages 13-20, from around the world.
Ascend Healthcare, leading provider of residential treatment for adolescents struggling with mental health & substance use disorders, has hired Kyle DiFulvio, PsyD, to lead the treatment team at Canyons House as full-time program director for adolescent clients & families. Kyle DiFulvio, PsyD, brings 7 Years of Clinical Expertise to Adolescent Girl’s Trauma and Anxiety Program
Dr. DiFulvio achieved his Bachelors's, Masters's, and Doctorate degrees at Antioch University. For the last few years, he was a Psychologist working with families, teens, adults/couples, and seniors of various ethnicities and cultural backgrounds. He can and does conduct psychological assessments and diagnoses and uses this in his work with patients experiencing different addictions, personality disorders, psychopathology, eating disorders, domestic violence, trauma, and abuse.
“I love working with teens because, developmentally, it’s the ideal time to intervene in a person’s life. The brain is rapidly developing, things start to click and make sense and connect properly, and it’s a great time to help change or alter someone’s trajectory,” said Kyle. He also shared his reason for working at Ascend’s Santa Clarita home. “I’ve known FE (Goldberg) for years prior to working here and I really enjoy his philosophy in treating people. It’s not about making money or mass-treatment of kids regardless of their individual needs, and I’ve worked for other centers that were like that before. At Ascend, teens and their families are treated comprehensively, individually, and well, and the staff is treated well too.”
Ascend Healthcare is thrilled that Kyle has accepted this position and looks forward to all of the positive and meaningful growth for clients, families, and staff that he will facilitate in his new role.
Ascend Healthcare operates three 6-bed residential treatment centers located in Los Angeles CA. Ascend offers a 45-90 day, an insurance-based program of treatment for mental health and substance use disorders. The treatment center’s program is designed to treat the entire family system and help teach teens to emotionally self-regulate in a healthy manner, helping families evolve into safe and supportive units.
If you would like more information about this topic, please call Seamus at 310-359-9403 or email email@example.com.
Ascend Healthcare is a behavioral healthcare provider for adolescents that offers 45-90 day residential treatment at three locations. Current residential facility locations include Encino and Santa Clarita, CA. These treatment centers serve teens aged 12-17 and their families, helping them develop and maintain educated, supportive family units. Ascend is licensed by the State of California to provide residential treatment, family therapy, and aftercare planning.
Foothills at Red Oak Recovery boasts more than 90 acres on its scenic campus and features several large horse pastures, peaceful streams, quiet sitting spots, large horse round pens in the foothills of North Carolina. There is plenty of beautiful green space to play, explore, and, in general, “be” on campus. Along with a challenging ropes course and horses, Foothills is thrilled to announce further growth of the campus with on-site campsites and hiking trails.
These new campsites offer several different spaces and purposes – with grills, firepits, picnic tables, and more - they offer the perfect respite for a community meeting, celebrations, downtime, camping, and other outside activities. “These new campsites have been wonderful to use for client camping both during the week and on the weekends, as well as training for our team,” says Tanner Balkcom, Operations Director. “My favorite spot is the slow cascade of water over the rocks next to the Mossy Oak Campsite. It is incredibly peaceful and renewing.”
There are new hiking trails also being created, with two already finished and a third trail in the works. These trails will allow for easy access to outdoor movement in nature and exercise in a serene setting, while keeping clients on campus and close to other Foothills’ activities and programming.
About Red Oak Recovery®
Red Oak Recovery® programs are located throughout Western North Carolina and include clinically-driven and gender separate trauma focused mental health and substance abuse treatment for young adult men (www.redoakrecovery.com), young adult women (www.thewillowsatredoak.com), and adolescent boys (www.foothillsatredoak.com).
Beacon Transitions, an Independent Living Program for young adults is excited to welcome Jason Clemares as Program Director. Jason has an extensive background in therapeutic wilderness and joins Beacon with over eight years of experience in Residential Treatment and Wilderness Therapy, filling several administrative roles. With a passion for program culture, staff development, and clinically informed mentorship, Jason is a valuable member of Beacon’s Leadership Team.
As a Field Director with a Wilderness Program in North Georgia, Jason directly oversaw the training of dedicated, professional Field Staff.
At Beacon, Jason is similarly responsible for oversight of the Residential Advisors, the heart of Beacon's organization. Jason ensures they are up to date on industry Best Practices, while developing a strong, growth-oriented culture. As a certified Positive Control Systems Instructor, Jason holds trainings on building rapport with students, making our relational approach viable and effective for facilitating change.
As a Program that relies heavily on Front-line Staff, Beacon is excited to have Jason leading the Team.
Beacon Transitions, an Independent Living Program located south of Asheville, NC brings a novel, collaborative approach to helping their students achieve targeted milestones of achievement. Using a community method, Beacon Transitions and their coalition of Mental Health Treatment Providers, Local Business Leaders, and educational professionals support Male-Identifying Young Adults develop the skills to live independently.
SYMMETRY is excited to announce three upcoming speaking engagements with CEO and founder Dianne Kosto. Dianne is presenting "You Don’t Need to be a Neuro-Guru to do Neurofeedback" at two different upcoming events. Participants learn how the biopsychosocial approach coupled with qEEG brain mapping techniques help solve clinical issues. The presentation also demystifies myths surrounding the process and demonstrates the practical application of neurofeedback. Register for the following conferences below to save a spot:
- On September 24th from 9 AM-12 PM, earn 3 NBCC credit hours by attending the presentation, live, in-person in Johns Island, SC at the Lowcountry Mindfulness Center, or virtually. REGISTER HERE for this event to hear from Dianne Kosto and Beth Matenaer of Think Boxing.
- Join Dianne at the 2021 ATTACh Annual Conference on September 30th-October 2nd in Minneapolis, MN. There will be a multitude of keynote speakers, workshop presenters, special gatherings, and opportunities to gain CE credit.
- At the NATSAP 2021 Southeast Regional Conference, Dianne Kosto and Angie Shockley from Q&A Associates will conduct a workshop, "Neuro-Guru Bootcamp: Learn the Basics of Neurofeedback and present, Train the Brain and Retain! Use Neurofeedback to Support Your Staff and Better Serve Your Families". Dianne Kosto states that “Professionals leave this discussion with valuable information regarding how neurofeedback benefits current services by working in tandem with traditional modalities for those in treatment, therapeutic or transitional programs.” This conference will be on October 22nd in Asheville, NC at the NATSAP 2021 Southeast Regional Conference. Register right now to save a spot.
Additionally, SYMMETRY is happy to welcome new growth:
- Solstice West has been working with SYMMETRY for quite a while and recently expanded its services to better care for the young girls who attend.
- Echo Springs is one of the oldest and most experienced young adult transitional programs in the United States and implemented neurofeedback into their UT and ID locations.
- Havenwood Academy is a long-term treatment center for young women who are experiencing trauma and attachment-related issues. Havenwood is now utilizing neurofeedback in its program.
SYMMETRY welcomes Business Development Representative Melodie Hayes. Melodie has spent her professional career helping others create better lives for themselves. She has worked in the mental health industry in many capacities for over 33 years. From a skills coach up through and including the Executive Director, she is motivated to help others achieve their best lives. Melodie’s focus includes therapeutic programs and facilities as well as professional practices in the Eastern portion of the US.
SYMMETRY is still looking for a full-time Business Development Representative to look over certain areas in the Western United States. This full-time position will be filled by a candidate who is able to work virtually and is a flexible team player that will be responsible for developing sales channels. To find more information about the Business Development Representative position, visit All Kinds of Jobs.
SYMMETRY is excited about the growth and changes that are occurring within the company. This expansion provides a path for more people to have access to neurofeedback and a well-regulated brain. Take the time to register for these upcoming events so that you do not miss out on opportunities to grow personally and professionally.
About SYMMETRY Neuro-Pathway Training:
Our Mission: When people have dysregulated brains, they suffer physical and emotional pain, life is hard and relationships are damaged. At SYMMETRY Neuro-Pathway Training we empower people by providing neurofeedback services and systems that help the brain regulate because everyone deserves the opportunity to thrive.
For more research and information about SYMMETRY Neuro-Pathway Training and the different partnership opportunities, contact Dianne Kosto, SCN, CEO & Founder. To schedule an appointment, follow this link: https://go.oncehub.com/DianneKosto. Follow us on LinkedIn or Facebook or visit our website: www.symmetryneuropt.com.
Trails Momentum, a young adult wilderness therapy program, is now working with ServSafe, a national restaurant association, to provide coursework that allows students to become ServSafe certified. The course covers food safety, hygiene, controlling time and temperature, preventing cross contamination, and sanitization. Students work through a textbook with five main chapters before taking the final exam.
Students who complete this exam can use their certification as an asset when applying for jobs and working in the food industry. Because it covers basic life skills such as kitchen safety, this knowledge is beneficial for all students even if they are not pursuing work in the food industry.
This is relevant learning; Trails Momentum students are very involved in cooking while on basecamp. They make all of their meals under the supervision of Nick Karikas, Kitchen Coordinator. Nick teaches students knife skills, new recipes, and the benefits of nutrition and how to maintain a healthy diet.
“Most students come to Trails Momentum with no previous cooking experience. We often see how anxious new students are in the kitchen because it is a place where they are not comfortable. After our students spend more time cooking, their anxiety around the kitchen decreases and many start to open up and start experimenting with food,” adds Nick Karikas.
Learning to cook healthy meals, nutrition and the mind-body connection is built into the core values at Trails Momentum. Students graduate from the program with the knowledge and skills needed to maintain both their physical and mental health.
To learn more about the life skills students learn at Trails Momentum, please visit https://trailsmomentum.com/life-skills or call (877) 296-8711.
Trails Momentum is an adventure-based outdoor program for young adults ages 18-25 who are struggling to launch themselves into adulthood. Students are guided on a journey of self-discovery where they develop self-concept and are empowered to make the transition into independence. Adventure programming, clinical services, family involvement, college coursework, and social skill development are seamlessly interwoven to maximize the transference of important life skills and address clinical and behavioral challenges.
Foundations Asheville, a transitional living program for young adults, just added a new house for students in their program. The Dayton House is for students that are ready for phase two of the program, preparing them for more independent living.
In order to be eligible to move into this new transition house, students must exhibit high functioning in the program’s six pillars: academics/vocational, financial management, social integration, personal health, functional living skills, and hobbies and interests. When students feel they have successfully met the six pillars, they are encouraged to advocate for transition into the Dayton House.
Mike Groves, Director of Operations states, “this house will be a crucial element in our programming for students to practice the skills that they have been working on but in an environment where there is more freedom and agency with a safety net to fall back on.”
In this new house, Foundations Life Skills Instructors are still present every day. They help students set goals, organize activities, and keep students accountable. Students in the new house have more independence while still having support each step of the way. This home is the intermediate step between residential and independent living in the program.
Students who progress through the program will ultimately advance to independent living.
To learn more about life at Foundations, please visit foundationsasheville.com or call (877) 318-7273.
Foundations Asheville is a program for young adults of all genders ages 18-24 who are struggling to find the motivation to launch into adulthood. Many of our students struggle with anxiety, depression, social skills, and learning difficulties. This program is committed to helping young adults develop and sharpen the skills they need to be successful in the real world. There is a focus on teaching students how to enter the workforce, develop vocational trades, and functional living skills. Located in Asheville, North Carolina, Foundations Asheville gives young adults the opportunity to gain confidence, find their purpose, and learn useful skills that will help them navigate through the adult years. For more information about Foundations Asheville, please call (877) 318-7273.
Next month Trails Carolina, a wilderness therapy program for pre-teens and adolescents, is expanding on family programming by offering a new Trauma-focused webinar. This webinar is specifically designed to help parents who have experienced trauma or have a child who has experienced trauma and will be presented by Family Therapist Erin Cantalini, LPC.
This webinar allows Trails parents to connect with each other in a shared group process. For many families, Trails Carolina is the first place that a parent has been able to connect with other parents to discuss their difficulties, without the fear of judgement. Being able to create space to talk about these issues in a communal setting helps to create validation and not feeling so alone.
Additionally, a child may reveal past traumas for the first time with their Trails therapist. If it occurred unknowingly to the parents, they are just now understanding its existence and impact on their child. Many parents feel deep shame or guilt. The webinar will help parents understand how they can best be supportive of their child. This webinar will be a safe and supportive space for parents to exchange their own experiences.
Parents may be referred to the class by their Trails Primary Therapist, Trails Family Therapist or their Educational Consultant. “We hope that by sharing this information, it allows parents to have more choices in how to intervene in the future and how to better understand the needs of someone who has experienced trauma, to help de-personalize their struggles,” says Erin Cantalini, MA, LPC, Family Therapist.
Cantalini is focusing on three elements regarding trauma in her webinar presentation: the past, the impact, and the future. She coaches parents through understanding trauma, how it impacts their families, and then provides them with information on how to support the ongoing work of healing from trauma.
To learn more about the family programming at Trails Carolina, please visit https://trailscarolina.com or call 800-975-7303.
Trails Carolina is a wilderness therapy for pre-teens and adolescents ages 10-17. The clinically sophisticated and time-tested program engages students through wilderness therapy, mindfulness and yoga, equine-assisted therapy, intentional transitions, and academic engagement. Recent outcome research demonstrates efficacy. Trails Carolina was created to help families reconnect and heal. For additional information about Trails Carolina, located just outside of Asheville, North Carolina, please call 800-975-7303.
Portland, ME: The Peaks to Portland Swim to Benefit Kids is one of the oldest open water swims in the world. Since the 1920s, thousands have braved Maine's Casco Bay each year to swim the 2.4 miles from Peaks Island to Portland's East End Beach. Cornerstones' Program Manager, Fred Poisson, and one of our current residents participated in the event this year which ultimately took place virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions. Participants were allowed to swim at their own pace in any desired water they choose – pool, lake, or ocean, to allow for distancing.
Training for the Cornerstones’ duo began in February, a cold winter month in Maine where the daily high temperatures are regularly below freezing. Between weather meant for hibernating and emerging from a year of COVID restrictions, the idea of swimming multiple times per week seemed daunting to the pair. And the challenges were only beginning. The participating resident immediately questioned his ability and confidence in being able to complete the process after just the first swimming session. "I was only able to do five laps that day, and I wasn't satisfied. I was devastated, actually. I expected to do so much more, or at least not tire so quickly. Fred helped me to process these feelings and simply said that I was psyching myself out. I wasn't giving myself any time to grow." says the Cornerstones resident.
The resident returned for the second scheduled training session and the third and eventually started independent swims, proudly texting Fred with their lap numbers from the day. The pair incorporated mindfulness techniques into training to shut off outside thoughts and focus only on the present and moving through the water. They added running into the regimen as well, meeting twice a week in the early mornings. Running was another way to strengthen their bodies, and exerting intense physical energy helped them release any anger and frustration they were feeling.
The swimming partners successfully completed the Peaks to Portland Swim on July 30 with 106 laps totaling 3 miles and swimming nonstop for close to two hours. Their training efforts allowed them to exceed the 2.4-mile goal but also left a lasting impression on their daily lives. "I am so happy that I ended up sticking with it. It showed me what I am truly capable of. If I don't give up on myself and work towards a goal, I realize that I can do great things." says the Cornerstones resident. And as for Fred, "Every year I grow a bit as well. I learn from each of the people I train with, and I push myself to become a better coach and a more balanced individual."
About Cornerstones of Maine: Cornerstones of Maine is a clinically-driven transitional living program designed to assist men, women, and gender-nonconforming young adults (ages 18 to 28) in their journey to becoming independent. Through transformative therapeutic work and individual and group support, our residents work towards independent living. Our individualized program includes professional development, academic re-engagement, and character-building experiences that teach a myriad of skills and create pathways for successful life habits. These experiences, along with enrichment opportunities, promote emotional growth, personal value, and life purpose.
Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness (BRTW) treats struggling youth in a wilderness setting, providing sophisticated clinical assessment through a holistic approach and a family-systems lens. Over the last nineteen years, Blue Ridge’s program has played a pivotal role in raising the bar for the Wilderness Therapy industry by pioneering new practices to increase student health, safety, and comfort, strengthening communication between the clinical and field teams, and addressing the needs of each student through individualized treatment plans.
Blue Ridge is taking the next step in achieving optimal results for families and students by welcoming Dr. Mark Braunstein, DO, ABPN onto the team to provide psychiatric services for all Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness families. Dr. Braunstein is board certified in General Psychiatry and has managed medication for wilderness therapy students for over fifteen years. He specializes in the treatment of substance abuse, oppositional defiance, depression, treatment resistance, personality disorders, anxiety, and ADHD. A New York native, Dr. Braunstein received his BS in Mathematics from the University of Florida and later earned his medical degree at Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine. He then completed his residency in General Psychiatry at the University of New Mexico and received a fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Maine Medical Center in Portland, Maine.
Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness strives to provide families and students with sophisticated care in every aspect of their therapeutic journey. It is not uncommon for students to arrive at therapeutic placements with medications that could be adjusted, changed, or removed from their medication management plans for better results. In his career, Dr. Braunstein has been able to help assess and stabilize students in need of pharmacological support, safely manage medications, build trusting relationships with treatment-resistant students, and provide life-saving services for students dealing with substance abuse and addiction.
The nomadic wilderness setting at Blue Ridge is an ideal environment to stabilize and reassess students’ current medications. Dr. Braunstein will provide Blue Ridge families and students with a high level of care and attention surrounding their medication and treatment plan by aligning with the wishes of each student’s family, performing thorough initial consultations upon admission, and collaborating with the rest of the Blue Ridge team to ensure that comprehensive care is ongoing.
Dr. Braunstein will have an initial consultation with every single student upon admission to establish a systematic review of every student’s history. This will allow Blue Ridge to provide a thorough intake and psychiatric assessment for every student, with a more targeted pharmacological perspective. Dr. Braunstein will not solely review student medications but will consider the student’s medical and clinical profile to best determine what their needs will be. His assessment and involvement with each student who walks through Blue Ridge’s doors will establish a comprehensive baseline, allowing the program to respond to student needs better than ever before.
Dr. Braunstein will provide psychiatric services to Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness adolescent population (13-18) as well as Emerald Arrow young adult students (18-29).
Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness offers clinically driven wilderness therapy programs encompassing advanced therapeutic skill, an immersive nomadic wilderness model, licensed therapy and assessment, and multiple treatment options for struggling teens ages 13-18 as well as young adults, ages 18-30 in their Emerald Arrow program. Their individualized approach, family support, and commitment to service translates to an unparalleled experience and better outcomes for youth and families.
Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness (BRTW), a North-Georgia based therapeutic wilderness program treating adolescents and young adults ages 13-30, is honored to announce Elizabeth Seib, LMFT as Primary Therapist for adolescent females. Elizabeth is well-versed in the treatment experience that BRTW provides students and families. She has worked for Blue Ridge as a Family Therapist since arriving in 2017 to establish and grow the BRTW Family Program. Now, Elizabeth will bring her valuable experiences and thorough programmatic understanding into her own group of adolescent females ages 13-18.
Elizabeth has accumulated many influential experiences and lessons which inform her clinical style and therapeutic instincts. After receiving her Bachelor’s in Human Development and Family Science from the University of Georgia in 2012, Elizabeth spent two years as a wilderness Field Instructor in the Utah Desert. She then worked with young adults in a transitional living program, where many of her clients had arrived from wilderness programs and other therapeutic placements. Later, Elizabeth attended Valdosta University, where she obtained her Master’s of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy. These experiences, along with serving for the Department of Juvenile Justice as an in-home therapist for at-risk youth, shaped Elizabeth’s understanding of human nature and how fundamental family involvement is to their child’s treatment process and long-lasting therapeutic success.
In explaining her treatment style, Elizabeth said “I wholeheartedly believe humans are inherently good and that we want to do well in our lives. However, we can fall into cycles of problem-focused thinking which keeps us from recognizing the skills we often already possess to generate effective solutions... I believe that facilitating ‘solution talk’ versus ‘problem talk’ orients our conversation towards empowerment and the exploration as to how to get needs in more adaptive, values-driven ways.”
Elizabeth is passionate about the ways in which wilderness therapy can serve as a catalyst for whole-family healing. She admires adolescents for their malleability and resilience, and champions the opportunities wilderness therapy provides adolescents to reconnect with themselves and their families. With a therapeutic approach rooted in family systems theory along with solution-focused brief and narrative therapies, Elizabeth helps her clients uncover their inherent skill-sets in order to identify and accomplish positive outcomes. She prioritizes cultivating collaborative and respectful relationships as she learns more about the backgrounds, values, and communication styles of her clients and families. While modeling unconditional positive regard towards her clients, Elizabeth orients herself to their perspectives and works synchronously with them to establish and pursue clear goals that are aligned within the contexts of their respective family systems.
Elizabeth is currently accepting new clients in her group of female adolescents ages 13-18. She specializes in working with individuals who are experiencing family conflict, low self-esteem and self-worth, grief and loss, attachment issues, substance abuse, social challenges, ADHD, anxiety, and depression. Blue Ridge strives to provide each individual with integrated, comprehensive care, and Elizabeth’s strengths-based and family-systems orientation will support positive, lasting outcomes for her students and their families.
Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness offers clinically driven wilderness therapy programs encompassing advanced therapeutic skill, an immersive nomadic wilderness model, licensed therapy and assessment, and multiple treatment options for struggling teens ages 13-18 as well as young adults, ages 18-30 in their Emerald Arrow program. Their individualized approach, family support, and commitment to service translates to an unparalleled experience and better outcomes for youth and families.
MAYER, ARIZONA, SEPTEMBER 13, 2021 —Jeannie Courtney founded Spring Ridge Academy as an experienced educator, knowing that academics were critical in adolescents' development. Today, academics remain a vital element of Spring Ridge Academy's programming, emphasized by the recent re-accreditation by Cognia.
Spring Ridge Academy's focus on academics is shown through the amount of time students spend in the classroom. The two-semester, year-round school year ensures that students get the in-person instruction that they need. "We have intentionally created space for academics. All aspects of our program are important — academics, therapy, family time, and community — so it is important to make sure that we give appropriate time for all of them," said Dr. Erin Smith, Director of Operational Excellence, certified teacher and Principal. "It's not just about giving students access to education when they are in treatment, but giving them excellence in education."
Students receive a class schedule of six college-prep classes that are on a rotating A/B block schedule. Each day students attend three 80-minute blocks. "It's about relationships. The more teachers, and I, for that matter, can build relationships with our students, the more they learn. Period. The block schedule gives teachers the flexibility to deliver content and get to know the students in their classroom," said Justin Zych, Principal.
The seven highly qualified faculty members have years of experience, trauma-informed classrooms. They are dedicated to Spring Ridge's mission to create an environment where students and their families can learn, heal, grow, and connect. In addition, they have multiple talents that they bring to the classroom.
Rick Derman, who has been at Spring Ridge since 2013, is an experienced art and history teacher. He has a master's degree from Penn in American Civilization and two Emmy Awards. Gretchen Foster has a degree in dance and yoga certifications and has been at Spring Ridge for over 13 years. She has combined both of these to create an artistic movement class that includes the fundamentals of yoga, acro-yoga, and dance.
Clayton Smith began teaching at the school in 2014. He is an English teacher but has also developed classes in Film and Photography. "One of the best parts of working at Spring Ridge Academy is that I get to meet the students where they are and what they are interested in. So they are excited to learn and can break through all the negative things they have been telling themselves and realize how brilliant they are."
Ken Stubbe, a math teacher, has been with Spring Ridge since 2007 and has seen countless students overcome a fear of math. Many students have thanked Mr. Stubbe over the years in graduation speeches. One student thanked him "for always being honest with me and never letting me give up."
Patrick Abney has taught at the school since 2017. He has recently taken on the role of a science teacher in addition to a math teacher bridging the connection between the two subjects more completely.
June Lombardi, an English and social studies teacher, and Leslie Kaw, a computer lab paraprofessional, joined the Spring Ridge team in 2020 and have been assets in the classroom and academic mentors.
"Each student is assigned an academic mentor who assists them in overcoming their academic obstacles. In addition, the teacher is a key member of the small treatment team that ensures a holistic approach to each students' care," said Dr. Smith.
"It wasn't long after I was hired as an English teacher in 2008 that I knew I would stake my career on Spring Ridge Academy. Job offers have come and gone, and I have never had the desire to leave the school. This is because spring Ridge aligned so perfectly with my mission as a teacher," said Dr. Smith. "I know that Spring Ridge values education because of the work I do day-to-day and because the school leadership supported me in getting my Ed.S. so that I could be a certified vice principal, and later on supporting me when I decided to get my Ph.D."
Spring Ridge Academy, located 1.5 hours outside Phoenix, Arizona, serves young women ages 13-17. Founded in 1997 as a female and family-owned Residential Treatment Center, Spring Ridge is licensed by the State of Arizona and accredited by the Joint Commission. The academic program/school is accredited by Cognia. Utilizing evidence-based clinical modalities with a traditional rigorous college-prep curriculum, including fine and expressive arts and team sports, Spring Ridge has created a relationship-based setting that allows the student's emotional, relational, spiritual, intellectual, and physical to grow.
Equinox RTC, a residential treatment center for teen boys ages 14-18, offers a variety of academic pathways for students to continue their academic success or get back on track with their education. Providing an opportunity for students to succeed academically sets the stage for increased confidence across other aspects of their treatment. Because of the partnership and collaboration of academics and therapeutics at Equinox, the program is able to provide a place for students to work on increased motivation and perseverance. Additionally, students practice communication and executive functioning skills such as focus and attention to detail, self-discipline, time management, self-regulation, working memory, task initiation, planning/ prioritization, organization, goal setting/reaching, flexibility, and stress tolerance. These are the skills that will be necessary to successfully transition to a more traditional environment and the Academy allows students to practice these skills in real-time.
Courses are taught by licensed teachers with an average class ratio of 1:6, and a maximum ratio of 1:10. Equinox provides a hybrid model of traditional approaches to teaching and learning and non-traditional (i.e.alternative) approaches, such as inquiry-based, experiential, and project-based learning. This diverse approach, with a relationship-driven classroom management model, offers students of all abilities and learning styles an environment that feels safe, supportive, and successful.
For students who need additional academic support, Equinox offers tutoring during individual classes as well as one-on-one sessions outside of the classroom. Equinox’s well-trained teachers can provide standard accommodations, including but not limited to preferential seating, extended time, guided or provided notes, small group instruction, scribing and/or reading aloud through staff support or software, audiobooks, and other language-based assistive technology. Secondarily, many of the therapeutic supports and modalities Equinox utilizes benefit school performance: neurofeedback, brainspotting, etc.
Equinox works with each student to create the right academic goals and objectives and provide the support they need to achieve them. At Equinox, academics serve as “experiential therapeutics,” allowing students and staff to assess in real-time the progress they are making with therapeutic skills like emotional regulation, frustration tolerance, asking for help, teamwork, feedback acceptance, and responsibility for class attendance even when not feeling 100%.
About Equinox RTC
Equinox RTC is a leading residential treatment center for boys ages 14-18. Equinox is unique in its focus on Trauma, Loss, and Attachment, providing clinically intensive treatment for boys struggling with anxiety, depression, OCD, ASD, learning disabilities, and other emotional and behavioral needs. Equinox offers a combination of clinically sophisticated support with a whole-person approach including adventure therapy, health and fitness program, and a whole foods diet. Equinox provides a fully accredited school, with broad course selections taught by licensed teachers in a college-preparatory environment.
Mountain Valley Treatment Center, a residential program for adolescents and young adults with anxiety and OCD, has recently added Occupational Therapy to its daily programming. Zack Schafer, MS, OTR/L, has joined MVTC as the Milieu Therapist. As Milieu Therapist, Zack's role is to understand the demands of the program, evaluate the strengths and challenges of individual residents, and support both the program and the individual residents in bridging the gap between daily activities and therapeutic interventions. Whether it be promoting residents' use of self-regulatory strategies in milieu, teaching independent living skills, or providing recommendations to residential staff on how to grade and prescribe therapeutic programming, the occupational therapy is focused on maximizing how the residents are therapeutically “occupied” throughout their treatment.
Zack explains that the roots of occupational therapy are grounded in mental health treatment. "In the late 1700’s and early 1800’s the 'moral treatment movement' led to many mental health institutions initiating the use of therapeutic activities, such as arts and crafts, gardening, and other work based tasks within the milieu. After recognizing the benefits of engaging persons with mental health challenges in meaningful and purposeful activities, a group of American Psychiatrists in the early 1900’s founded the field of Occupational Therapy. The goal of the profession was to focus on how 'occupying' one’s mind and body in activities influences their well-being and how prescribing 'curative occupations' could facilitate healing."
By hiring an Occupational Therapist to work in the milieu with the residents, MVTC can view daily activities through a new lens. All individuals have activities that they need to participate in to maintain their well-being (hygiene, eating, sleep, etc.) and activities they want to engage in to give meaning to their life (work, school, leisure, social, etc). Illness, injury, and other barriers can shape what activities one engages in and impacts a resident's overall capacity to engage in those activities. Zack, as the MVTC Milieu Therapist, works with residents to determine what activities they want and need to engage in, what the barriers are to meaningful engagement, and then provides interventions to support them in reaching their goals.
About Mountain Valley Treatment Center
Mountain Valley Treatment Center is a nationally recognized evidence-based treatment center for adolescents suffering from anxiety and OCD. Located along the New Hampshire bank of the Connecticut River, Mountain Valley Treatment Center stands apart from like providers because of its specialization, unique setting, and comprehensive approach to care.
On Wednesday, August 25th, a group of Tibetan monks from Gaden Shartse Thubten Dhargye Ling (GSTDL), A Center for the Study of Buddhism & Tibetan Culture in Long Beach, CA, visited students and staff at Red Mountain Sedona (RMS). This visit was a special stop during the monks’ Sacred Earth & Healing Arts of Tibet Tour, (https://www.sacredartsoftibettour.org) which was suspended in March of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Annually, the monks travel to Sedona to give a series of lectures, blessings, healings, and empowerments. Each stop of their tour culminates with the creation of a large mandala made of consecrated sand. Mandalas are symbolic representations of the universe and can also hold philosophical significance relating to impermanence and the enlightened mind.
Ryan McGinty, MS, Director of Operations at Red Mountain Sedona, arranged to have the monks include RMS on their 2021 tour schedule. As a mindfulness-based, young adult therapeutic program, Ryan wanted the community to have this educational and experiential opportunity.
“The monks are coming to Red Mountain to spend time with our staff and students,” McGinty said in an email. “Such an auspicious event!”
During their campus visit, the monks met with Red Mountain Programs founder, Josh White, MA, LPC, LCMHC, CGP, WPA who is an empowered teacher in the Zen tradition. The monks also gave a lecture and taught students to create their own sand mandalas using traditional tools.
About Red Mountain Sedona
Red Mountain Sedona is a mindfulness-based, trauma-informed young adult "Launch" program, located in beautiful Sedona, Arizona. Red Mountain specializes in helping young adults between the ages of 18-28, address the social, emotional, and behavioral issues holding them back from successfully transitioning into adulthood. Through a truly holistic program that provides structure, individual, group, and family therapy, life skills training, recovery support and mindfulness-meditation, yoga, and martial arts instruction, Red Mountain Sedona helps students gain the stability and maturity needed to move forward in life. For more information on Red Mountain Sedona call (855) 998-5272.
Boulder Creek Academy, a therapeutic boarding school serving ages 13 through 18, weaves coeducational, fully-accredited academics into a relationship-based therapy program and welcomes struggling students. Boulder Creek is excited to share what students are learning from the nursing department regarding nutrition and how it affects their bodies.
Getting outside, exercising, and being active have always been a focus at Boulder Creek Academy. Lead Nurse Heather Lorenz, RN-BSN enjoys educating the students about what fuels the body and what foods help the brain function at its best. She is excited to share her passion for good health with the students. With 25 years of experience in acute care, and having grown up in a medical family, Heather has a lot to share. “My goal for our students is to educate them, and answer the questions they are asking, as well as promote thought towards the things they may have never thought to ask.” The students love to share and to learn, and to have their questions answered.
Heather welcomes the opportunities to attend dorm groups to discuss personal health, personal hygiene, and how to take care of your body. The benefits abound. “I look forward to coming to school and interacting with the kids! They are so curious, it’s my opportunity to discuss health with each one of them, and to connect with them in their individualized sessions.”
Heather posts health topics on the Nursing bulletin board outside the nurses’ office. The theme for this month is all about “Nutrition for my Brain and Body”. Heather’s enthusiasm for sharing about health is infectious….
About Boulder Creek Academy
At Boulder Creek Academy, students rediscover their academic and social confidence. The key to our success is that we reignite our students’ belief in themselves by utilizing time-tested and proven methods. Students begin to experience academic achievement, regain self-esteem, learn to embrace their uniqueness and become capable learners who are confident in themselves. Each day at Boulder Creek Academy is purposefully designed to maximize experiences that allow students to practice social skills, improve self-worth and develop healthy identity, benefit from therapeutic learning and to have fun.
Boulder Creek Academy has been creating a therapeutic learning environment for high school students ages 14-18 with anxiety, depression, untapped academic potential, interpersonal relationship difficulties, limited executive function skills and overlooked strengths and talents for more than 25 years.
At the end of August, The Forge School hosted its second quarterly symposium with NY Times best-selling author Dr. Michael Gurian, where the topic of discussion was 'Helping Boys Thrive In a Post-Covid World.' The event took place right in a beautiful venue right on the Hiwassee River and consisted of a three-hour educational talk by Dr. Gurian, lunch for all, and a Q&A Panel with Dr. Gurian and The Forge School leadership team. The guest list consisted of community partners, mental health partners, and parents/ family members of students who are currently enrolled at The Forge School.
Dr. Gurian is considered to be one of the nation's leading gender experts with research that spans decades and includes multi-generational, multi-national, and multi-cultural conducted studies. His educational lecture offered SPECT scans as well as plenty of resources for research-based information and evidence. Additionally, 'Helping Boys Thrive in a Post-Covid World' was approved by the National Association of Social Workers – Tennessee Chapter (Provider Number: NASWTN 2021-0099) for up to 4.0 continuing education units which were given to all of the event's attendees.
The Forge School's focus is to create Maverick joy and heal families. With specialization in the neurobiological and emotional needs of teen boys, programming partnerships with Dr. Michael Gurian are an integral part of their primary goal.
About the Forge School
The Forge School is an emboldened residential treatment center and school developed in response to the neurobiological needs of boys and young men. At The Forge School we combine the immersion of extraordinary outdoor experiences, empathetic and attuned individual and family counseling, and exceptional educational rigor to help build greatness beyond an education. The Forge School also aims to reconnect boys to their bodies through meditation, yoga, mindfulness, fitness, and healthy nutrition.
ViewPoint Center, an assessment center and mental health hospital for adolescents of all genders ages 12-17, is thrilled to welcome Brandon Burr, LCSW to the clinical team. ViewPoint Center has a clinically sophisticated multidisciplinary team working to deliver a comprehensive assessment clarifying diagnosis and recommended treatment options.
Brandon brings with him a wealth of experience and knowledge. During his 25 years in the field, Brandon has worked in corrections facilities focusing on addiction work and has specialized for many years working with struggling youth in wilderness therapy and residential treatment programs.
Clinical Director Jordan Killpack comments, "We are excited to have Brandon Burr join our team at Viewpoint Center! He brings with him more than 2 decades of experience working with youth in a variety of settings. He has quickly become an integral and effective part of our team." Assessment Director Dr. Jordan Rigby notes, "Brandon's experience was obvious as soon as he joined our team. He has a clear understanding of the needs of the group and individuals he works with. We are so happy to welcome him."
Brandon is a seasoned therapist, having worked with adolescents in a number of different settings. His specialties include trauma, family trauma, anxiety, ADHD, addictions, family systems, equine-assisted treatment, and PTSD. Brandon is also passionate about giving back to his community and continues to provide treatment services to law enforcement officers and their families when in crisis.
Learn more about ViewPoint Center by visiting https://www.viewpointcenter.com/ or by calling (855) 290-9682.
About The ViewPoint Center
The ViewPoint Center is a comprehensive therapeutic assessment facility licensed as a specialty psychiatric hospital for adolescents of all genders ages 12-17. ViewPoint employs two tracks, to be used independently or in succession, to accommodate the individualized needs of each patient. The short-term stabilization track provides a safe and nurturing environment that helps to stabilize a patient psychiatrically and clinically so that they can return to a program/boarding school in a matter of 1-3 weeks. The assessment track provides a comprehensive multidisciplinary evaluation involving psychiatry, clinical, medical, academic, neuropsychological and social milieu
Solstice East, a residential treatment center for female and transgender students ages 14-17, hosted the annual Solstice East Career Fair.
The Solstice East academic team facilitated the annual 2021 Solstice East Career Fair this September for students to research and present their career interests. Each student was instructed to choose a career of interest and present their findings. Tables were set up in the gymnasium for students to present to each other. Each student created a poster board, designed professional pamphlets and flyers, researched salary ranges, and presented to interested parties. The career fair was similar to one you would see on a college campus.
The career fair proved to be opportunity-rich with fresh perspectives, sparking new interest in potential careers. The future is bright for students at Solstice East, as students demonstrated a variety of interests including veterinary science, animation, physics, and creative arts. Students were also able to teach staff about their career interests and pursuits.
Solstice East offers an on-campus college preparatory academy certified by the NC State Board of Education, fully accredited by Cognia and SEVIS certified. The teaching model is traditional, teacher-led with small class sizes. A full range of core classes, from special education to honors-level courses are offered to accommodate all grade 9-12 learning styles and levels. For more information about Solstice East, please visit https://solsticeeast.com or call (855) 672-7058.
About Solstice East
Solstice East is a residential treatment center for young women ages 14-17 nestled in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains just outside of Asheville, North Carolina. Solstice East is committed to treating each student through a combination of individual, family, equine, and adventure therapies as well as treating and diagnosing a range of issues including (but not limited to) trauma, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, suicidal ideation, self-harming behaviors, attachment, and identity issues. Solstice East assists adolescents and their families in developing excellence in relationships, influence, character, and health throughout their life journey. Our holistic approach acknowledges that mental health diagnoses are only one piece of the puzzle; we strive to help young women succeed in multiple areas of their lives.
Elements Wilderness and Elements Traverse has always prided itself in offering a robust array of in-person Family Services. However, during the pandemic it has proven difficult for families to take full advantage of these visits and family therapy opportunities. In response to the desire to better serve clients and families in the post-COVID era, Elements Wilderness Programs are adding additional services and staff to their Family Services Department. Starting in September 2021, Elements now offers parent coaching to all of its teen and adult clients’ families.
Elements has always encouraged parents to hire parent coaches. Over the years, Elements referred enough families to Solutions Parent Support (SPS) that SPS eventually developed a track specifically for Elements parents. This makes it a natural fit for Elements and SPS to formalize their partnership so that every Elements family will receive parent coaching during their child’s stay. Additionally, Jen Rapp Sheridan is returning to the Elements team as an in-house parent coach. Jen was with Elements when the company started in 2008 and wore a number of hats during those early years from field staff to therapist. “Jen coming home to Elements feels like we’ve come full circle,” said Elements’ Adolescent Clinical Director, Tara Stireman. “It was a pleasure to work with Jen in the early years, and I know she will add tremendous value to our families now.” Between Jen and SPS, all families will receive the additional support and guidance that coaching provides.
2021 also saw the addition of the Spotlight Seminars, Elements’ psychoeducational seminars for parents. These virtual seminars are offered every two weeks for one hour and provide parents with additional information about the Elements program, philosophy, therapeutic modalities, and more. On alternating weeks with the Seminars, Elements also offers virtual parent support groups. The support groups are moderated by Karen Davis, Elements’ Family Support Liaison, with the support of a member of the clinical team.
To lead this expanded department, Elements welcomes back Dagney Strossner as the Family Services Director. Dagney worked with Elements for years as a Field Mentor before starting the Elements’ Parent Visit Program. After finishing graduate school, Dagney explored other opportunities to gain experience as a clinician, and Elements is thrilled that she is back on the team.
The parent coaching, seminars and support groups are all in addition to the in-person work that Elements is so proud of: unlimited overnight parent visits and the 3-day Family Focus experience. Elements is excited to see these additional offerings better support parents with their parallel process and thereby improving outcomes for clients and families alike.
About Elements Wilderness
Since 2008, Elements Wilderness has been providing a specialized therapeutic intervention for adolescent boys aged 13-17. We at Elements envision a world in which everyone has the skills and support necessary to live a full and healthy life. Through innovative therapeutic and psychiatric intervention, a comprehensive outdoor living experience complete with expeditionary backpacking and adventure programming, a robust family program involving the family at every step, and evidence-based substance abuse treatment, we strive to provide our clients with intervention, treatment, and assessment. Elements is licensed and supervised by the State of Utah Department of Human Services and accredited through the Outdoor Behavioral Health Council and the Association for Experiential Education. For Young Adult wilderness therapy clients, there is Elements Traverse based in central Utah.
Phocus projects are an integral part of programming at EVN|SQ. During a client's stay, they will complete a self-directed project in which the sky is the limit; this project gives them the opportunity to discover new passions or redefine old hobbies, skills, or gifts that may have slipped away during recent years. 'Honest Engine' is a Phocus track that allows CEO and Founder Robbie Bills to connect with clients on a day-to-day basis outside the confines of traditional clinical modalities.
While working in the 'Honest Engine' garage and workshop, Robbie has the chance to build connection with clients, teach them a little about cars and how they work while simultaneously getting a unique glimpse into their minds, how they learn, process information, and communicate.
Last week, those participating in 'Honest Engine' finished a complete overhaul of a 1972 Chevy C-10. Over the course of several months, Robbie taught and worked with clients to replace the engine, transmission, brakes, suspension, exhaust, and interior making the truck a fully operational vehicle. Clients were extremely proud and excited to see the truck that they spent countless hours working on go for its first successful test drive.
About Balance House
Balance House is a year-long continuum of care for young men ages 18-32 years old. We are located in Salt Lake City, Utah at the base of the Wasatch Mountains. Balance House offers four, distinct levels of care from residential treatment to independent, sober living. Residents of the program are offered a chance to explore the outdoors, and beauty that Utah has to offer, as well as to participate in group and evidence-based treatment modalities. Our treatment program is different by design. We offer a space in which young men can help make decisions about their treatment plans and goals as well as feel supported as they begin to realize what is important to them outside of the treatment setting.
In May, Evoke Therapy Programs kicked off its first-ever Finding Community service project at the Southwest NATSAP conference in Southern Utah. In the same month, Evoke ran the same service project twice in its own home offices. Turnout was strong both at the conference and in-house, validating an idea that Kaysha Sorensen, Admissions & Outreach Counselor at Evoke, had months earlier.
“The idea came to me after my first conference in the Industry, the IECA in Austin. Austin is home to a large homeless community, and the need seemed overwhelming. It planted a seed.” A few more gatherings in other cities with needs, and Sorensen could not ignore her heart anymore. “I knew, if we banded together, we could make a dent in these needs. I brought the idea of building community within our industry, to help the communities we visited, and it was met with huge support. Covid delayed some of our plans, yet we are now finally able to act on our hopes for the Finding Community service program.”
At its first event in Southern Utah, about 25 NATSAP attendees gathered at the Utah Food Bank and filled grocery bags full of staples that families in need could use. The volunteer numbers at this event had to be restricted because of COVID; many more had wanted to take part. And in August at the Wilderness Symposium in Park City, Utah they did. Turnout doubled, as upwards of 50 people gathered to create lunch bags for children who identify as hungry to take home with them on weekends, when they are not able to get free school lunches.
As its public-facing service events thrived, Sorensen was busy getting similar events running at Evoke’s base in Santa Clara, Utah with its employees. “We start at the heart of Evoke,” she says, “so having our employees serve within our own Community, bringing everyone from field staff, to Admissions, to therapists together to give back felt important and natural.” Two fully-packed outings to the Utah Foodbank followed, and the next plan — working with a local charity called Tan’s Treats — is happening later this month.
Evoke has big dreams for this young program, says Steve Kirk, director of admissions at Evoke, “Our hope is that as we resume our travels to various regions throughout the country, gathering as treatment professionals, that we can continue building our partnerships with local charities and professionals to serve those in need in those communities. Service is contagious, and having participated in a couple of these events instills an even greater desire to continue building on what we have started.”
About Evoke Therapy Programs
Evoke Therapy Programs provides both outdoor-based therapeutic programs for adolescents, young adults, and families and Intensive therapy programs for individuals, families, and couples. Evoke is accredited by the AEE/OBH and is a NATSAP Research Designated Program. Evoke’s outdoor programs are based in Bend, Oregon and in Saint George, Utah. Evoke’s Intensive Therapy programs are in northern Utah.
Open Sky Wilderness Therapy is excited to announce that young adult students may now earn college credits while at Open Sky and pay for their treatment and education using college savings. In partnership with Western Colorado University, Open Sky is offering students in the young adult program the opportunity to take a three-credit college psychology course: Nature and the Human Psyche. Developed by Dr. Melia Snyder, education director and clinical therapist at Open Sky, the course is designed to both provide an enriching academic experience and complement students’ therapeutic work in the field.
“The course’s robust curriculum combines independent study, group engagement, and experiential learning,” said Dr. Snyder. “By enrolling in this course, students will not only deepen their experience in wilderness but also strengthen their core capacity for attention, curiosity, awareness, emotional intelligence, critical thinking, and connection.”
Many young adults at Open Sky face challenges with mental health, substance use, or independent living and have therefore had to postpone or forego attending college. Through Open Sky’s partnership with Western Colorado University, students may now pursue their educations while simultaneously receiving treatment.
“Now, our students don’t have the choose between their education and their overall well-being,” said Dr. Snyder.
Furthermore, students who enroll in the Western Colorado University course may apply college savings toward both treatment and education. When registered for three credit hours, families can use funds from 529 plans or AmeriCorps vouchers to pay for treatment at Open Sky and for Western Colorado University course credits.
“At Open Sky, we believe in educating the whole person – body, mind, heart, and spirit,” said Dr. Snyder. “We hope this unique opportunity will guide the lives and learning of the students we serve, prepare them to navigate unique and urgent challenges, and to positively contribute to society.”
For more information about college credits at Open Sky and the process for using a 529 plan or AmeriCorps voucher to pay for treatment, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Open Sky Wilderness Therapy
Open Sky Wilderness Therapy is the premier family-centered wilderness therapy experience for early adolescents (12-14), adolescents (14-17), young adults (18-30) and their families, since 2006. Nestled in the mountains of southwest Colorado and the canyon country of southeast Utah, the Open Sky approach transcends traditional wilderness therapy by emphasizing treatment for the whole family. This approach integrates the latest in evidence-based clinical modalities with innovative, research-driven holistic healing practices such as yoga, meditation, and other mindfulness practices. When a family partners with Open Sky, they embark on a rewarding adventure of self-discovery and learn valuable skills that promote lasting success. Learn more at www.openskywilderness.com.
Lehi, UT - outBACK Therapeutic Expeditions officially announced today that Jessica Jo Stenquist, LCSW, will be transitioning from her Primary Therapist role with the company and moving into private practice full time. Jessica Jo Stenquist has been a primary therapist at outBACK for nearly 3.5 years and will remain at outBACK until all students on her caseload have discharged. The estimated time of completing her caseload is set for mid- to late-October of 2021.
During her time at outBACK, Jessica Jo has served as a shining example of a collective approach to treatment, holds a beautiful blend of creativity and heart with logic and analysis, and has provided an unparalleled sense of grounding to the students and families she has worked with during her time at outBACK. Although it is with sadness that outBACK bids this outstanding professional farewell, it is also with deepest gratitude and appreciation that we wish her happiness as she moves on into her next venture. In her statement, Jessica Jo expressed the following sentiments about her time at outBACK Therapeutic Expeditions:
“I have learned the very definition of ‘cohesive team’ with my outBACK family. Time and again I have been so very grateful to have all of the incredible brains and hearts I’m surrounded with to not only give best care to all of my students and families, but also when things in MY life have been thrown up in the air. I have never felt so supported in being the person and professional I am and have truly felt like I was encouraged to grow into the best version of myself in all areas of my life. This through the incredible examples of each person at outBACK calling themselves and one another out when we may not be our best badass selves--as well as having weekly heart stretching, mind growing, and just straight honest conversations without feeling the need to hedge or cushion because everyone is looking for the same in return. I am so beyond blessed to have shared sacred space with every single individual who is committed to this work at outBACK.”
As outBACK bids Jessica Jo farewell, celebrates her contributions to the organization, and honors her overall greatness, here is what Clinical Director Greg Burnham had to say about Jessica Jo: “I have loved working with Jessica Jo. We have worked together for several years; both at outBACK and at another therapeutic program. Her drive to grow and learn is insatiable and she is a courageous human who lives true to her values and beliefs even in the face of criticism. She also has the art of knowing how to navigate complex relationship dynamics and work with very challenging family dynamics. I respect her and will miss working with Jessica Jo. I wish her well and know she will be amazing in any endeavor in which she engages. I wish you well my friend!”
outBACK Therapeutic Expeditions is currently accepting applications to fill Jessica Jo’s position as a primary therapist who works with students who have been assigned female at birth. For more information about this announcement, please contact Tracy Hopkins, Business Development Director | Inclusion & Belonging Specialist at email@example.com.
About outBACK Therapeutic Expeditions
outBACK Therapeutic Expeditions is a highly effective, clinically informed treatment program dedicated to bringing families BACK together. Utilizing the wilderness as an alternative to traditional treatment settings, we guide students (13-17) and families in their process of reconnecting to Self, re-engaging with Family, and recommitting to Purpose. outBACK provides an innovative clinical structure designed to yield the highest clinical value for students and their families by providing access to multiple therapists for each student; Primary Therapists who oversee treatment plan and Associate Therapists who are in the group daily. outBACK is a licensed wilderness therapy program in the state of Utah and helps teens with various areas of difficulties such as depression, anxiety, trauma, family conflict, engagement in dangerous behaviors, neurodiversity, ASD level I, electronic and gaming addiction, and more.
BlueFire PulsaR, a wilderness therapy program for young adults ages 18-28, has added wilderness expeditions based on the Hero’s Journey model as part of its clinical programming. These expeditions serve as a narrative-based learning experience for clients to work toward their goals.
The Hero’s Journey model includes several phases: the Ordinary World, the Call to Adventure, the Refusal of the Call, the Mentor, Crossing the Threshold, the Ordeal, and the Return. Each of these phases is modeled throughout PulsaR’s wilderness expedition, lending real-world examples to the arc of the story.
At the beginning of the expedition, clients were asked to identify what they wanted to let go of or leave behind in terms of habits or feelings that could be holding them back. Clients picked a rock in the desert to carry with them as they traveled to represent the emotion or experience they wanted to leave behind. When they felt like they were ready, the team held a ceremony to let go of the rock and the emotion associated with it, returning from their trip lighter and less burdened.
“Coming to wilderness therapy in itself is a rite of passage for many young adults,” says Jake Tucker, LCPC, Primary Therapist at PulsaR. “Using the Hero’s Journey as a metaphor really resonates with clients and gives them the opportunity to ‘zoom out’ and look at their lives and their journey through a new perspective.”
During the summer, the trip includes hiking, mountain biking, and other adventure activities. Each activity provides an opportunity for clients to practice new skills and learn new things about themselves.
PulsaR plans to continue offering the Hero’s Journey expeditions quarterly. For more information about blueFire PulsaR’s clinical programming, visit https://bluefirepulsar.com/clinical/ or call (866) 430-6807.
About blueFire PulsaR
blueFire PulsaR is a co-educational wilderness therapy program for young adults ages 18-28. Adventure therapy, equine therapy, academic opportunities, career counseling, and “family spark” help students open up and look at their life. This program is dedicated to helping students regain a better sense of the world around them while addressing their emotions by developing healthy coping skills and communication skills.
Call (866) 430-6807 or visit bluefirepulsar.com for more information.
Lehi, UT - outBACK Therapeutic Expeditions is thrilled to announce the launch of an innovative staffing model for field guides. Beginning Monday, September 20, 2021, outBACK will transition from the traditional two-shift model found in wilderness therapy to a groundbreaking move towards a three-rotation model. After carefully examining programmatic enhancements through the lens of those who spend the most time with clients, outBACK is poised to set the new standard for quality care. A three-rotation model will allow the field guide schedule and staffing responsibilities to be divided among three separate shifts of guide teams. This unprecedented model results in:
- Increased training for front line staff
- Increased planning & preparation
- Increased communication between staff and departments
- Increased quality of service
- Increased staff pay
- Increased rest and relaxation between shifts
The impacts of Covid-19 and overall mental health have been, and continue to be, felt in both the professional and personal lives of individuals across industries. As a premier mental healthcare provider dedicated to bringing families back together, outBACK recognized the critical need to redefine key areas of design in wilderness therapy. Given that employees in healthcare are not immune to the stresses of the pandemic, creating a structural design that effortlessly supports front-line staff with more training, more time off for rest, and more opportunities to plan and prepare will enhance overall quality of care.
Similar to the launch of this upcoming staffing model, outBACK is no stranger to steering outside the traditional ways of operation within the field of wilderness therapy. Back in January 2017, outBACK added masters-level clinicians as part of the field guide teams; increasing clinical access and contact, increasing billable hours for insurance, and increasing the number of clinicians working with each student during enrollment.
For more information on the various ways in which outBACK Therapeutic Expeditions continues to redefine wilderness therapy, contact Tracy Hopkins, Business Development Director | Inclusion & Belonging specialist at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About outBACK Therapeutic Expeditions
outBACK Therapeutic Expeditions is a highly effective, clinically informed treatment program dedicated to bringing families BACK together. Utilizing the wilderness as an alternative to traditional treatment settings, we guide students (13-17) and families in their process of reconnecting to Self, re-engaging with Family, and recommitting to Purpose. outBACK provides an innovative clinical structure designed to yield the highest clinical value for students and their families by providing access to multiple therapists for each student; Primary Therapists who oversee treatment plan and Associate Therapists who are in the group daily. outBACK is a licensed wilderness therapy program in the state of Utah and helps teens with various areas of difficulties such as depression, anxiety, trauma, family conflict, engagement in dangerous behaviors, neurodiversity, ASD level I, electronic and gaming addiction and more.
Orem, UT: STRīV is a transitional support program for young adults who are navigating the challenging landscape of independent living and the college experience. This support comes from therapists, coaches, and mentors, but it also comes from the student-to-student interaction through therapeutic and skills-building groups.
At STRīV, groups are an important and powerful way to start the day. Regardless of its focus (psychoeducational, process, skills-building), each group begins with mindfulness exercises to help participants prepare mentally and emotionally for purposes at hand. Mindfulness is a type of meditation designed to bring a heightened awareness of one’s senses and feelings in the moment, without assigning judgment. Rather than interpreting an experience as “good, bad, pleasant, or distasteful,” mindfulness helps slow down the thought process, which helps decrease reactivity.
Starting with mindfulness exercises sets a helpful tone for the group process. As described by Celesta Jones, primary therapist at STRīV, group can be a powerful experience. “In group therapy, clients are provided the opportunity for a deeper level of connection and processing. Through creating an environment of support, participants develop a recognition of shared experience – decreasing shame regarding their individual difficulties.” She goes on to say, “group members are empowered to explore and share their thoughts and emotions as they are happening, which serves to guide clients in developing a sense of self, building effective communication skills, and increasing problem-solving abilities.”
STRīV seems to have found a winning combination. Mindfulness, coupled with the meaningful interactions within the group process, creates a powerful experience.
STRiV (Strive Forward, LLC) is a transitional living and college support program for young adults who have struggled along their journey toward independence. STRiV provides social/emotional/academic support and life-skills development through one-on-one mentoring, executive skills coaching, and individual & group therapy within a semi-independent living environment. Located at the base of the Wasatch Mountains in Utah County, STRiV provides supported access to Utah Valley University, myriad vocational programs, unmatched outdoor recreation, and a wide variety of community-based entertainment.
New Focus Academy is excited to announce the opening of its new girls' program. This new program will be opening on November 1st, 2021, and is now accepting applications. Although the program is licensed by the state of Utah for 12 students, New Focus Academy will only accept 8 students in the first few months.
The girls' program will operate close to the existing New Focus Academy main house. Girls will have a separate residential house from the boys and be in female-only classes for the foreseeable future. Eventually, New Focus Academy hopes to have an integrated, co-ed academic program for students. Girls ages 12-18 struggling with social, emotional, or functional challenges can benefit from a stay at New Focus Academy. The program helps adolescents gain the skills needed to live independent, fulfilling lives. Just like existing programming for the boys' program, female students will participate in ongoing community involvement, building their confidence while learning life skills.
“We are thrilled to be opening the girls' program at New Focus Academy,” said Dr. Brandon Park, Ph.D., Founder of New Focus Academy. “The girls' program will give us the opportunity to help even more neurodiverse adolescents gain independence and build confidence as they grow and learn.”
A Virtual Launch Party will be held on Monday, October 18th; contact Director of Admissions Marisa Davis, email@example.com for details or to learn more about admissions or submit an application to the new girls program.
About New Focus Academy
New Focus Academy is a therapeutic residential treatment program for adolescents ages 12-18 with neurodevelopmental challenges. Located in Heber City, Utah, just outside of Salt Lake City, New Focus Academy prepares struggling teens for a purpose-filled, independent life. New Focus Academy creates an environment of success using a positive reinforcement approach and empowering students to take small steps leading to big changes and overall wellness.
Building Bridges Academy is continually looking to expand the vocational offerings to enhance the academic options for the students. Fall 2021 brought the Introduction of Automotive Service Technology course. David Mitchell joined the team last winter as the vocational teacher, David has taught vocational classes for many years, after retiring from his own engineering company, consulting with NASA and Boeing, among others. He left the business world to follow his passion of working with students. Last semester the students in his Industrial Engineering & Design class used industry-standard software (Solidworks) to collaborate on a single 3D printed project as well as complete an individual project of their own design.
All the students, whether they are enrolled at Thompson Falls High School or attending Bridges Academy, are eligible to participate in these classes.
Over the summer the Automotive Service Technology curriculum was finalized and the students are looking forward to working on their project car. All basic maintenance items will be covered including engine repair and tuning, braking systems, electrical systems, drive train (automatic and manual), and more.
Building Bridges Academy is to add to the vocational program with this class and will continue to add additional classes to enhance the students’ academic experience.
About Building Bridges
Building Bridges is a Therapeutic Boarding School in Thompson Falls, MT for boys 14-18 with substance and behavior issues. Our passion is creating a structure that mirrors real life including the opportunity of attending public school. We strive to show our students how substance use has created behaviors that have gotten in the way of pursuing their passions. We believe by teaching them how to have self-confidence and create a more positive manner they can see their growth through using what they learn in a normalized safe environment that will transfer to wherever their next step is.