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25 minutes | Apr 7, 2021
Episode 28: Young Adults, Anxiety, and the Pandemic
PREVIEW: It has now been more than a year since our lives changed drastically due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While we’ve learned to live with this new normal, the impacts on mental health and development have been significant. In this episode, clinical therapist Mariah Loftin discusses how the pandemic has affected mental health in young adults, how they and their parents can identify and manage mental health struggles, and what hope and transformation can be gained in the midst of it all. GUEST PROFILE: MARIAH LOFTIN, MA, LPC Senior clinical therapist Mariah Loftin has been working with young adults and their families at Open Sky since 2012, with years of clinical experience prior. She skillfully blends her background as a psychotherapist, behaviorist, and art therapist. Melding a variety of clinical modalities, Mariah helps young adult clients and their families examine and appreciate the many dimensions of themselves, including their mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. TOPICS COVERED: anxiety, depression, isolation, mental health, pandemic,parenting, substance abuse, therapy, young adults SELECT QUOTES: “I think it's a uniquely challenging time for young adults because they’re not being able to graduate, not being able to go to classes at college, not being able to actually launch from their homes because developmentally, that's where they are in their lives. So there's this sense of a lot of young people feeling stuck, stagnant, and like they’re being robbed of those opportunities.” “Let'sreflect on where we've been. Let's look at how has this last year unfolded and where are we at this point so that we can move forward.” “As a family, both individually and collectively, let's get honest with ourselves about what's been happening and what's not healthy. I think being able to define and even write it down: what's been going on, what are the things that we're concerned about for ourselves, for our families? And ask, what are the strengths from being together, so that we're not just caught and stuck in here are all the negative things that are happening.” “I think all of us have experienced some unhealthy behaviors perhaps emerging or increasing. And it's about asking, when does it cross a line? When does it become a concerning behavior? That, to me, is an important thing for parents and kids to be looking at.”See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
27 minutes | Mar 24, 2021
Episode 27: The Rise of Online Exploitation of Adolescent Girls
PREVIEW: With the closure of schools and the isolative nature of pandemic-life, the last year has clearly been challenging for teens, sometimes in unexpected ways. An emerging issue we’re seeing more and more is the online exploitation of teens online. Here to talk about the risks, signs, and prevention of online sexual exploitation is senior clinical therapist Kirsten Bolt. GUEST PROFILE: KIRSTEN BOLT, MED, LMFTKirsten has been working with adolescent girls at Open Sky since 2011. With her firm and direct approach, Kirsten confronts presenting issues and holds students and families accountable to their therapeutic work, while circumventing the shame that can interfere with progress. She incorporates humor and playfulness and quickly develops strong therapeutic relationships. TOPICS COVERED: adolescent, adolescent girls, teens, sexual exploitation, online exploitation, parenting tips, core values, therapy, wilderness therapy, treatment, parenting SELECT QUOTES: “First and foremost, if we can help our girls see their value in who they are as people, not how they look, that's number one in my mind. If we can help them recognize the sexual objectification that occurs for girls and women, that's a really great starting place. And if we can teach them to value themselves for their brains, for their strength, for their creative ability, for whatever it is.” “Have proactive conversations early with your children about online sexual exploitation. Have these conversations with your sons, have these conversations with your daughters. How they can honor their values? How can they protect their hearts and minds? Is this good for me? Or is this short-term satisfaction of that social connection that you're talking about?” “While this is certainly a concerning topic, there are lots of ways to intervene and to work with our kids. And the more that we're talking about this with each other, the more that we can actually help. The more that we teach our kids, they can spread the word.” “I don't want to downplay the gravity of this because it is dangerous and very, very risky. And there's a way forward, and it's actually through connection... Let's be in connection with our kids. Let's be in connection with other parents. Let's support our kids being in healthy connection with each other.”See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
25 minutes | Mar 10, 2021
Episode 26: Where the Magic Begins: Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone
PREVIEW: We’ve all become familiar with our own personal comfort zones; where we operate and interact with the most ease and predictability. Some of us are more inclined than others to step outside of their comfort zones, and maybe even crave the feeling of pushing those limits. Others find it difficult and sometimes even debilitating. How is it healthy and beneficial to step beyond our comfort zones? Clinical Therapist Mariah Loftin is here to discuss this topic in SKYlights episode 26. In her work at Open Sky, Mariah helps young adults launch into adulthood and independence by building confidence, grit, and resilience outside of their comfort zones. We’re grateful to have her back on the podcast! GUEST PROFILE: MARIAH LOFTIN, MA, LPC As a Licensed Professional Counselor, Mariah skillfully blends her background as a psychotherapist, behaviorist and art therapist. She is quickly able to assess and appropriately treat students, masterfully illuminating the issues that are difficult for them to face. She then pushes them to their edges to start working on those core issues. In her work, she melds a variety of modalities such as Art Therapy, Behavior Analysis, Relational Psychotherapy for Trauma, DBT, Family Systems Therapy, MI, and Acceptance & Commitment Therapy to best meet the individual therapeutic needs. TOPICS COVERED: young adults, comfort zone, grit, parenting tips, core values, therapy, wilderness therapy, treatment, parenting SELECT QUOTES: “However, if we stay in that place of predictability, of familiarity, of safety, life is not going to be particularly rich and we're not going to be able to build up the ability to deal with whatever it is that life throws at us.” “I love this idea of the wilderness itself being a place that people in general, but particularly young people, can come to heal because those trees, those mountains are not going to judge you.” “There are huge comfort zones that I would say most people bump up against when they're emotional challenges. Things like talking about our emotions and our feelings, and actually allowing other people to see us like that, to me, is vulnerability.” “For a lot of people, asking for help is actually outside of that comfort zone. And that's my biggest encouragement: look at what's going on, make a plan and accept support where you need it.”See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
28 minutes | Feb 24, 2021
Episode 25: Parenting the Defiant Teen
PREVIEW: Defiance and opposition can be normal and even healthy signs of adolescence. When do these patterns become unhealthy? How can parents effectively respond to their teen’s defiant behavior? What are the best strategies for parents who are at their wit’s end during this phase of parenting? Here to help us answer some of these questions is Open Sky Senior Clinical Therapist, Jonathan Mitchell. Jonathan will also share helpful examples from his work at Open Sky Wilderness Therapy and from his own experience asa defiant teen. GUEST PROFILE: JONATHAN MITCHELL, MA, LPC Jonathan has been working with adolescent boys and their families at Open Sky since 2009. His clinical approach draws on the teachings of dialectical behavioral therapy, Gestalt therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and years of experience as a field guide. As a therapist, he is appreciated for his pleasant and direct nature, intuitive connection with clients, and knack for working with defiant and strongly guarded adolescents. TOPICS COVERED: Parenting, defiance, opposition, oppositional defiance, defiant teen, defiant child, behavior problems, parenting tips, core values, therapy, wilderness therapy, treatment SELECT QUOTES: “Defiance is - in its roots - an exaggerated expression of independence or differentiation from the family.” “This is all the anatomy of defiance. It comes from a place of powerlessness and not being seen and heard by the world around them.” “It feels powerful but it’s so isolating. I know from myself and the kids that I work with who are really defiant, they’re really lonely. It’s the double edge sword of defiance in that it’s powerful but it also ostracizes us from the world around us and from relationships. We’re not connected to people when we’re defiant.” “The other tenet of what has worked for families who have been successful navigating this defiance issue is being consistent about leaning into the process and not giving up. Remaining patient, remaining open, continuing the healthy pressure on the child, and finding some support in the world around them.” See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
25 minutes | Feb 10, 2021
Episode 24: How to Stay Grounded During Times of Stress
PREVIEW: Stress is something we humans cannot avoid. From being cut off in traffic on our way to work, to navigating a global pandemic, we all face it regularly to some degree. So, how do we respond to stress? How do we prevent our thoughts from spiraling, our emotions from taking control, and our actions from causing even more damage? Open Sky Clinical Therapist Brian Leidal will address these questions and more in our conversation today. He’ll also provide five actionable steps for grounding the nervous system and responding to stress in alignment with core values. GUEST PROFILE: BRIAN LEIDAL, MA, LPC Brian joined Open Sky in 2013 as a Family Services therapist and now works as a primary therapist with young adults. He loves to help his students witness and understand how thoughts and thought patterns influence emotions, which then influence behaviors. He is on the podcast today to do the same for you, our listeners! TOPICS COVERED: Stress, nervous system, responding to stress, breathing techniques, coping skills, core values, therapy, wilderness therapy, treatment, emotion regulation SELECT QUOTES: “Under chronic stress, under a great deal of emotion, it’s normal for our stories that we’re telling ourselves to be skewed toward the negative. Even with people that we love; especially with the people we love. The practice here is to recognize when that’s happening, do something that’s more constructive for your relationships and your values, than acting impulsively.” “When those thoughts become repetitive and pervasive, they actually do have an effect on our nervous systems. And as a result, that’s where these negative core beliefs can become reinforced and entrenched.” “Try from that grounded space to think of a more compassionate alternative story than the one you just made up. By doing that last step, this is a way to reprogram these chronic stress stories that we tell ourselves about ourselves, the world, our families, our friends, the situation.” “It’s a constant practice for myself to not jump to the conclusion of the negative bias. This requires mindfulness, it requires practice, just like any skill that we learn. And it’s one that I continue to aspire to as well.”See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
25 minutes | Jan 27, 2021
Episode 23: How to Talk to Your Kids in a Way They Can Hear It with Clinical Therapist Nick Lenderking-Brill
PREVIEW:How often do we find ourselves in communication with someone where we realize we’re just missing each other? Where the person we’re talking to isn’t actually hearing what we’re trying to communicate? When it comes to parent-child communication, especially during the adolescent years, this can often become the norm.In this episode, Clinical Therapist Nick Lenderking-Brill offers perspective on why this stage is so hard for both kids and parents and how parents can improve their communication and listening skills to have more effective and meaningful conversations with their children. He outlines some of the most common communication mistakes parents make and offers tools and strategies they can use instead, providing plenty of examples of what these methods might look like in real-life conversations. RESOURCES:SKYLights Episode 19: How to Build a “Communication Toolbox” and Improve Family Relationships with Clinical Therapist Nick Lenderking-BrillOpen Sky blog: Family Connection in the Digital Age: Tips for ReconnectingGUEST PROFILE:NICK LENDERKING-BRILL, MA, LPCCNick Lenderking-Brill is a Clinical Therapist who works with adolescent boys at Open Sky Wilderness Therapy. He specializes in addiction counseling, attachment issues, trauma-informed therapy, depression, anxiety, and screen overuse. Rather than seeking to fix people’s problems, Nick hopes to empower people to reach their own goals. His curiosity about people and their relationships drives his desire to help people heal, internally and through human connection. With extensive experience on both our the Clinical and Family Services team, Nick is well-equipped to provide insight on this important topic of parent-child communication. TOPICS COVERED: Parent-child communication, identify formation, basic needs, communication styles, reflective listening, lecturing, advice-giving, comparison, judgment, shaming, unconditional love, acceptance, emotional regulation, self-careSELECT QUOTES: “I think kids, like all of us, want to be understood. This isn’t always possible. And sometimes we simply don’t understand. And sometimes that’s okay. All that we and kids really need is to be heard, simply to be validated, simply to be listened to.”“What kids really need from their parents is a deep sense of unconditional love, knowing that no matter what they do, their parents are going to be there for them. Their parents are going to love them. It doesn’t need to mean a parent accepts all their kid’s choices. It doesn’t need to mean a parent agrees with all their kid’s choices. But a kid does need to know that a parent is going to love them for who they are and not for what they do.”“First and foremost, it’s so important to be gentle with yourself. Be patient with yourself, and be patient with your family too. It is totally OK to make mistakes. The point is not perfection…It’s so much more beneficial to try and make mistakes and maybe not totally hit the mark than not try at all.”“I think that kids love to hear that their parents aren’t perfect. I think they need to hear that their parents aren’t perfect, that they’re walking this path together.” See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
29 minutes | Jan 6, 2021
Episode 22: How Can I Establish Boundaries When My Young Adult Child Is Struggling? with Clinical Therapist Mariah Loftin
PREVIEW:Many parents struggle with effective ways to set and maintain boundaries as their children transition from adolescence to young adulthood. Young adults are starting to seek more freedom and gain independence yet are still reliant on their parents in many ways. This dynamic can be particularly difficult to navigate when a young adult is struggling with mental health or other life challenges. In this episode, Clinical Therapist Mariah Loftin discusses the importance of establishing healthy boundaries in the face of these challenges. She offers tangibles strategies parents can use for setting appropriate expectations and offering appropriate guidance. She outlines how to use healthy communication skills when having conversations with young adults, as well as when co-parenting. She addresses the different challenges young adults face growing up in this day and age, why parents need to be able to resource and care for themselves, and when families may want to seek outside help. Mariah highlights that boundaries are crucial to supporting and guiding young adults and can help them launch into a successful life of independence. GUEST PROFILE:MARIAH LOFTIN, MA, LPCMariah Loftin is a Licensed Professional Counselor who works with young adults at Open Sky Wilderness Therapy. Mariah skillfully blends her background as a psychotherapist, behaviorist, and art therapist. She is quickly able to assess and appropriately treat students, masterfully illuminating the issues that are difficult for them to face. She quickly and easily establishes rapport with students and their families, building deep and positive connections with parents while supporting students through change. She is recognized by clients and peers for her positive nature, open personality, and tenacious dedication. TOPICS COVERED: Boundaries, expectations, consequences, parenting, co-parenting, communication skills, self-realization, transition from adolescence to young adulthood, family dynamics, therapy, empathy, patienceSELECT QUOTES:“We want to support that young person launching, and we also want to hold them accountable to the things they say they are going to do. That actually supports a young person being a responsible young adult. So if we are just saying ‘yes, you can do whatever you want,’ we’re not actually guiding them. So that’s the role I think parents need to think about playing, that you are supporting them and guiding them with your boundaries.”“True communication is supporting connection. It’s one person speaking and one person really hearing. Not to say that you can control how your child hears you, but in the same moment, you can control how you hear your child.”“If you are clear about those expectations and your child is not able to meet them, that actually gives you really important information. They’re not in a place where they can ‘adult.’ They’re not in a place where they can have the utmost responsibility. Or maybe they’re out of control, and you need to take a higher level of control. And that’s where a program like Open Sky can come in as an intervention.” “A key thing that happens with parents is they feel like an island, and they feel alone in these struggles. So be aware that there are people outside your family system who can be supportive. And I would most often say, talk to professionals. Because there is a reality that sometimes our extended families don’t know as much as a professional with an objective perspective might. Be open to help and recognize that you don’t have to do this alone.”
32 minutes | Aug 5, 2020
Episode 21: Strategies for Successful Transition Post-Treatment
PREVIEW: While your child is in wilderness therapy treatment, a big question mark can be: “what next?” The transition after wilderness looks different for every family. Whether transitioning home, to school, or to an aftercare program, how can parents foster a healthy environment for their child to continue thriving?On today’s episode, Clinical Therapist Chris Blankenship answers common questions parents have as they prepare for their child to graduate wilderness therapy. He addresses the risk of missing underlying successes and challenges by focusing solely on boundaries and details. He also guides us in how to best attune to each other in the transition period, focus on the big picture, and stay committed to family values. With the right approach, parents can help their child carry on with the skills, growth, and progress they gained while in wilderness therapy treatment, no matter what the next steps are.Visit Episode Webpage GUEST PROFILE:CHRIS BLANKENSHIP, LCSWChris is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a therapist for transition age young adults (18-20) at Open Sky Wilderness Therapy. These young adults have not been able to find a healthy sense of self and often experience depression, anxiety, trouble launching into adulthood, destructive relationships, substance use, personal trauma, and problematic dynamics with family members. Chris’s clear and direct therapeutic approach helps students deepen their understanding of their presenting issues as well as the underlying processes resulting in these symptoms. Using a relationship-based approach, Chris provides direct and supportive techniques that help families to understand not just their child, but their entire family system. He strives to help his young adults stabilize, to give them the tools necessary for growth, and to provide a sophisticated assessment for future treatment options to effect positive change and growth.
27 minutes | Jul 22, 2020
Episode 20: How to Support your Child in Wilderness Therapy Treatment with Clinical Therapist Mariah Loftin
PREVIEW: The first thing you can do after your child has enrolled in wilderness is BREATHE. Acknowledge this transition and the courage it took to get here. What next? In this episode, we give guidance on how to support yourself and your child while he or she is in wilderness therapy. We explain how both students and parents can cycle through the stages of grief as they adjust to this new phase in their life. We address the common fears parents experience about sending their child to wilderness and the growth opportunities their family can expect.It’s also important to note that the questions, fears, challenges, and opportunities for parents of young adults, specifically, are unique. What if my child wants to leave wilderness? What are the next steps after wilderness? Our guest today, Senior Clinical Therapist Mariah Loftin, works with young adults and their families at Open Sky Wilderness Therapy. She lends us her expertise and advice for parents on these topics. RESOURCES:Family-related Open Sky blogsMariah’s blog, How to Talk with your Young Adult About Wilderness TherapyMariah answers young adults’ FAQs in her blog, How will Wilderness Benefit Me?SKYlights Episode 6: How will Wilderness Benefit Me?GUEST PROFILE:Mariah Loftin, MA, LPCAs a Licensed Professional Counselor, Mariah skillfully blends her background as a psychotherapist, behaviorist and art therapist. She is quickly able to assess and appropriately treat students, masterfully illuminating the issues that are difficult for them to face. She then pushes them to their edges to start working on those core issues. In her work, she melds a variety of modalities such as Art Therapy, Behavior Analysis, Relational Psychotherapy for Trauma, DBT, Family Systems Therapy, MI, and Acceptance & Commitment Therapy to best meet the individual therapeutic needs.Mariah quickly and easily establishes rapport with students and their families, building deep and positive connections with parents while supporting students through change. She is recognized by clients and peers for her positive nature, open personality, and tenacious dedication.As a seasoned three-dimensional stained glass sculpture artist, Mariah likens what she does in her studio to the work she does in the field at Open Sky. As each sculpture is lit from within, the imperfections in the glass form are the very things that add character and individuality to the piece. Mariah helps students examine and appreciate the many dimensions of themselves, including their mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. She creates an environment that contributes to changes in the student’s inner world, developing a more integrated sense of self along with an increase in self-awareness, understanding, and acceptance.
28 minutes | Jul 8, 2020
Episode 19: How to Build a “Communication Toolbox” and Improve Family Relationships with Clinical Therapist Nick Lenderking-Brill
PREVIEW: A “communication toolbox”…it’s exactly what it sounds like! It is a set of skills and resources at our disposal to access at any moment to practice healthy communication and strengthen our relationships. These are tools to draw from when relationships get tense, confusing, or avoidant. They are also tools to practice regularly even when things are going smoothly.On this episode, therapist Nick Lenderking-Brill walks us through a set of specific skills/resources to include in a “communication toolbox,” such as the “I Feel” Statement, reflective listening, empathy, and the feelings wheel. He gives tangible tips for implementing them into our real-life conversations. Download some of these resources at the links below.RESOURCES:Downloadable Feelings Resource WheelDownloadable “I Feel” Statement and Reflective Listening guideNick’s blog: Family Connection in the Digital Age: Tips for ReconnectingOpen Sky blog: 10 Tips for Strengthening Family Relationships in the New YearOpen Sky blog: From Distant to Connected: Effective Communication Strategies to Improve Parent-Child RelationshipsGUEST PROFILE:Nick Lenderking-Brill, MA, LPCCNick, a Boston native, has always been fascinated by humans and how they interact. He earned his Bachelor’s of Arts in English from the University of Virginia, largely to delve deeper into the arts of communication and expression. His 12 years of experience working with individuals and families led him to a Master's Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Naropa University.From organizing and leading backpacking trips for teenagers, to supporting displaced families in urban Brazil, to teaching English to schoolchildren in Thailand, Nick has found joy and fulfillment in serving others through the connective tissue of human relationships. Since childhood, he remembers feeling a sense of solace in nature. In 2013, he thru-hiked the 2,180 mile Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. During this journey, Nick experienced his own "wilderness therapy," and knew he needed to help others heal, using nature as a backdrop. His passion took him to Colorado in 2015, where he decided to concentrate his Master's degree in the field of Wilderness Therapy. As a therapist, Nick has facilitated equine-assisted interventions, rock-climbing interventions, group work while actively canoeing, and therapeutic backpacking trips. Aside from his work at Open Sky, he has worked at a counseling agency leading groups and performing individual therapy with folks who suffer from addiction.Nick uses a humanistic approach in therapy. He believes that all beings are basically good, yet we are subject to several difficulties simply by being alive. He is direct but compassionate with his adolescent boys--he knows how to push them into their work in a playful way, because after all, he was once an adolescent boy too! Nick finds the most value in life through interpersonal connection, and it is his goal as a therapist and human to have meaningful interactions with everyone he encounters. Rather than seeking to fix people’s problems, Nick hopes to empower people to reach their own goals.He specializes in addiction counseling, attachment issues, trauma-informed therapy, depression, anxiety, and screen overuse. His own research includes the ways in which screen overuse affects the developing brain. Nick is fascinated by neurology and mindfulness, and often brings current research into his work with students and families.
26 minutes | Jun 24, 2020
Episode 18: Understanding the Link Between Trauma, the Nervous System, and Addiction with Clinical Therapist, Brian Leidal
PREVIEW: Clinical Therapist Brian Leidal walks us through his understanding, research, and expertise on the topic of trauma and addiction, and the link between. The foundation to any conversation or therapeutic work on trauma begins with a grounded nervous system and healthy connection: to others and to self. According to Dr. Dan Siegel, trauma is some thing or event that overwhelms our ability to cope. Our ability to cope is dependent on life experiences, outside events, family, our practices. This is where substance use and other behavioral addictions come in—without the ability to cope effectively, these become short-term releases that can become destructive in the long run. The foundation to any conversation or therapeutic work on trauma begins with a grounded nervous system and healthy connection: to others and to self. Brian gives examples from his own clinical approach at Open Sky Wilderness Therapy of how to dig beneath the surface of substance abuse and addiction. RESOURCES: Brian’s blog: Exploring the Link Between Trauma and Addiction CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences Study Justin Sunseri’s Polyvagal Podcast Johann Hari’s Ted Talk: Everything You Think You Know About Addiction is Wrong
29 minutes | Feb 6, 2020
Episode 17: Heroes and Legends of the Field: A Conversation with Robin Wolthausen
PREVIEW: Starting as Field Guide, moving up to Assistant Field Director, and now as Family QuestTM Guide and Transition Mentor—Robin Wolthausen has been fortunate enough to know dozens of the personalities at Open Sky. He’s also as passionate as ever about wilderness therapy, wandering the land as humans amidst the wilderness and weaving the therapeutic experience into every aspect of the journey. Robin values Open Sky’s emphasis on whole health, mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual. In this episode of SKYlights, the Open Sky Wilderness Therapy podcast, we talk to Robin about how his own journey led him to, away from, and eventually back to Open Sky. Robin shares why he believes that same journey prepared him for a career as our Transition Mentor, helping families to incorporate the skills learned in the wilderness into their lives at home. GUEST PROFILE: Robin Wolthausen, BA Robin Wolthausen has been involved in wilderness guiding and education since 2003 and specifically in wilderness therapy—supporting students and families in crisis—since 2008. Robin’s worked with families in crises within the field of wilderness therapy for half-a-dozen well-known organizations. Additionally, he currently works with a number of family crises intervention support organizations. Today, at Open Sky, his chief goal is to support families and students during post-program reintegration to their homes. While specializing in wilderness therapy, Robin prides himself in his diverse vocational experience pointing to his many passions and loves in working with youth and young adults outside in an array of positive activities. He is trained in technical rock climbing, backcountry canoeing, naturalist studies, wildlife tracking, survival skills, primary handcrafts, conflict mediation and crisis de-escalation, rites of passage, permaculture, natural building and sustainable landscape construction and land management. In his free time, he loves baseball, shooting bows, learning about wild birds, and gardening.
31 minutes | Jan 23, 2020
Episode 16: How Healthy Expression Fosters Healthy Masculinity with Adolescent Boys Therapist Morgan Seymour, LCSW
PREVIEW: Today we talk with Clinical Therapist Morgan Seymour about how societal expectations can discourage or prevent boys from developing emotional awareness, the skills to express emotions and feelings, or seeking help for depression, anxiety, social issues, or challenges at school. Additionally, Morgan explores how—in a new and unfamiliar environment in the wilderness—boys must face emotions they’ve previously avoided or covered up, and how wilderness therapy is an excellent way to strengthen, understand, and be aware of one’s entire self.
34 minutes | Jan 9, 2020
Episode 15: Emerging Adults: Supporting the Unique Needs of 18-20 Year-Olds
PREVIEW: Turning 18 is one of the biggest milestones young people experience. Overnight, one goes from being labeled a child to an adult. However, the growth that occurs in that one day is not commensurate with the change in expectations, nor cognitive development. In this episode, clinical therapist Chris Blankenship discusses how Open Sky helps young adults and families navigate this transition. GUEST: Clinical Therapist, Chris Blankenship, LCSW
32 minutes | Dec 19, 2019
Episode 14: “Winter Safety: Best Practices Promote Opportunities for Empowerment and Resilience in Wilderness Therapy” with Program Director Danny Frazer
PREVIEW: Program Director Danny Frazer discusses Open Sky’s winter course area in Utah. He describes what the winter climate is like, explains how our base camp infrastructure enhances the student and family experience, and talks about the training our field staff receive prior to and throughout the winter season. Danny details the winter gear our students receive—including insulated boots, long underwear and down jackets—and how students’ diets are modified to account for colder weather. He also explains the physical, mental and psychological benefits inherent to a wilderness therapy experience during the winter. GUEST PROFILE: Director Danny Frazer, BBA Danny graduated cum laude from Texas A&M University with a BBA in Management and Human Resources. He took his first wilderness therapy job as an intern while in college in 1996, working for a small, family-run wilderness program. This experience inspired him to pursue work in the field of wilderness therapy after graduating. In 1998, he began working as field guide for Aspen Achievement Academy, eventually becoming Field Director. For six consecutive summers, while guiding at Aspen, he worked for the Montana program of the Voyageur Outward Bound School, where he served as an instructor, course director, trainer, and logistics manager. In that early 8-year period, he accumulated over 700 field days working directly with adolescents and young adults. Since Open Sky’s inception, Danny has served in multiple leadership roles, starting as the field and operations director and then as the first marketing and business development director. He eventually landed in admissions, where he served as the director. He brings a vast history of working in the field with special emphasis on risk management, safety, wilderness programming, and personnel development to Open Sky’s leadership team. In addition, he chairs the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Council, the field’s leading organization representing over 20 wilderness programs throughout North America. TOPICS COVERED: Wilderness Therapy, coping skills, emotional and spiritual growth, self-confidence, emotional support, healing, young adults, recovery support, empowerment, destructive relationships, substance use, personal trauma, family dynamics, oppositional defiance, adoption/attachment issues, treatment resistance, navigating non-traditional and complex family systems, substance abuse, substance addiction, depression, anxiety, winter wilderness backpacking, winter backpacking safety
34 minutes | Dec 5, 2019
Episode 13: Understanding EMDR with Clinical Therapist for Adolescent Girls, Kirsten Bolt, M.Ed., LMFT.
PREVIEW: Today we talk with Clinical Therapist Kirsten Bolt about the effectiveness of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. EMDR is a treatment that has been used to address a wide variety of clinical issues and the underlying negative core beliefs about oneself. EMDR is a helpful way for people to reprocess experiences and develop adaptive core beliefs, providing relief from frozen neural pathways. This paves the way for students to harness other skills and resources taught at Open Sky Wilderness Therapy.
38 minutes | Nov 14, 2019
Episode 12: “Nature-based Expressive Arts Therapy” with Clinical Therapist and Education Director Melia Snyder, PhD, LPC, REAT
PREVIEW: Today we talk to Clinical Therapist and Education Director Melia Snyder, who’s not only an expert on nature-based expressive arts therapy, she wrote the book on it! In our conversation with Melia, we discuss how her background led her to therapy and education, her fascination with nature-based expressive arts therapy—and what it is—how this type of therapy promotes overall health, and how she helps her students craft a positive, productive, healthy and thriving life. GUEST PROFILE: CLINICAL THERAPIST AND EDUCATION DIRECTOR MELIA SNYDER, PHD, LPC, REAT Dr. Melia Snyder earned her MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and a Certificate in Expressive Arts Therapy from Appalachian State University. She earned her Ph.D. in Counseling from the University of North Carolina in Charlotte. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Registered Expressive Arts Therapist. During her doctoral studies, Dr. Melia immersed herself in studying factors and behaviors that contribute to wellness and thriving despite life’s inevitable challenges. She conducted her doctoral research on salutogenesis (the promotion of health) among young women in recovery from substance use disorders. Her study revealed that those who participated in a structured group therapy intervention that incorporated the arts, experienced significant gains in their sense of meaning, coping capacities, and ability to make sense of their lives in comparison to those who just participated in the usual treatment. Dr. Melia is excited to bring her passion for health promotion and the arts to students and families at Open Sky. Prior to joining the Open Sky team, Dr. Melia was a counselor educator and supervisor in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. She also directed the Appalachian Expressive Arts Therapy program, which teaches counselors, educators, and other helping professionals to incorporate the arts into their work. Her focus within her academic career was bringing the health-promoting capacities of wilderness, nature, and the arts into counseling—a topic she explores in her book Nature-Based Expressive Arts Therapy. Additionally, Dr. Melia brings more than 15 years of experience working with families in crisis. She has worked in a variety of settings including wilderness, community mental health, integrated care, and private practice. She is trained in Family Centered Treatment and Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and enjoys studying depth psychology and ecopsychology. Dr. Melia was drawn to Open Sky’s strong focus on whole person health, the depth-oriented and nature-based Student Pathway, and the integrity with which families are integrated into treatment. As a clinical therapist, Dr. Melia shares her expertise in issues relevant to adolescent girls, including cultivating resilience and addressing the need for connection and intimacy in relationships. She is passionate about helping her students develop skills to maneuver the challenges of adolescence, including those associated with technology and social media, body image, and sexuality. As the Education Director at Open Sky, Dr. Melia brings her knowledge and experience to support curriculum development at Open Sky. In her downtime, Dr. Melia enjoys writing poetry, eating good food, engaging in meaningful conversation, and exploring the beautiful San Juan Mountains with her partner and dog.
38 minutes | Oct 17, 2019
Episode 11: A Conversation with Open Sky Clinical Director and Therapist, Sebastiaan Zuidweg, MA, LPC
PREVIEW: SEBASTIAAN ZUIDWEG, MA, LPC Sebastiaan Zuidweg knew early on that his calling was a life of being in service to others. Sebastiaan believes in Open Sky’s holistic family systems approach as a catalyst for change, and the power of the wilderness as an effective medium for therapeutic work. His clinical approach is rooted in the belief that every individual has the ability to activate his or her potential, and pursue health and wellness. TOPICS COVERED: Wilderness Therapy, coping skills, emotional and spiritual growth, self-confidence, emotional support, healing, young adults, recovery support, empowerment, destructive relationships, substance use, personal trauma, family dynamics, oppositional defiance, adoption/attachment issues, treatment resistance, navigating non-traditional and complex family systems, substance abuse, substance addiction, depression, anxiety, meditation, mindfulness, motivation, self-harm
24 minutes | Oct 3, 2019
Episode 10: Understanding Self-Harm and Treating It in Wilderness with Kirsten Bolt, M.Ed., Lmft
PREVIEW: Clinical therapist Kirsten Bolt explores the reasons people self- harm and the steps involved in treating self-harm. With assessment and reassessment, we start to understand the history, severity, circumstances, and intentions surrounding the behavior, allowing us to help students to develop the skills to regulate emotions and communicate their needs to others. GUEST PROFILES: KIRSTEN BOLT, M.ED., LMFT Kirsten is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She graduated from Syracuse University in 1999, Summa Cum Laude, with a BS in Health and Exercise Science. Instead of following her projected course to study Biomechanics, she turned west, seeking something that felt missing. That trip landed her in Utah amid stunning red-rock canyons, wide sandy rivers, and abundant sunshine. Kirsten finds wilderness to be a uniquely powerful setting for young people to connect to themselves, to others, and to their means of contributing to the world. Kirsten finds inspiration observing the landscape, running whitewater rivers, climbing sandstone cracks, mountain biking, trail running, skiing, playing guitar and piano, and spending quality time with her husband, children, dogs, and cats. Kirsten is humbled daily by her personal experiences as a mother, stepmother, and partner, and she believes her clinical work is significantly deeper as a result. TOPICS COVERED: Wilderness Therapy, coping skills, emotional and spiritual growth, self-confidence, emotional support, healing, young adults, recovery support, empowerment, destructive relationships, substance use, personal trauma, family dynamics, oppositional defiance, adoption/attachment issues, treatment resistance, navigating non-traditional and complex family systems, substance abuse, substance addiction, depression, anxiety, meditation, mindfulness, motivation, self-harm
24 minutes | Oct 3, 2019
Episode 10: Understanding Self-Harm and Treating It in Wilderness with Kirsten Bolt, M.Ed., Lmft
PREVIEW: Clinical therapist Kirsten Bolt explores the reasons people self-harm and the steps involved in treating self-harm. With assessment and reassessment, westart to understand the history, severity, circumstances, and intentions surrounding thebehavior, allowing us to help students to develop the skills to regulate emotions andcommunicate their needs to others.GUEST PROFILES:KIRSTEN BOLT, M.ED., LMFTKirsten is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She graduated from Syracuse Universityin 1999, Summa Cum Laude, with a BS in Health and Exercise Science. Instead of following herprojected course to study Biomechanics, she turned west, seeking something that felt missing.That trip landed her in Utah amid stunning red-rock canyons, wide sandy rivers, and abundantsunshine. Kirsten finds wilderness to be a uniquely powerful setting for young people toconnect to themselves, to others, and to their means of contributing to the world.Kirsten finds inspiration observing the landscape, running whitewater rivers, climbingsandstone cracks, mountain biking, trail running, skiing, playing guitar and piano, and spendingquality time with her husband, children, dogs, and cats. Kirsten is humbled daily by herpersonal experiences as a mother, stepmother, and partner, and she believes her clinical workis significantly deeper as a result.TOPICS COVERED:Wilderness Therapy, coping skills, emotional and spiritual growth, self-confidence, emotionalsupport, healing, young adults, recovery support, empowerment, destructive relationships,substance use, personal trauma, family dynamics, oppositional defiance, adoption/attachmentissues, treatment resistance, navigating non-traditional and complex family systems,substance abuse, substance addiction, depression, anxiety, meditation, mindfulness,motivation, self-harm
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