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130: The Research at the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Center

Stories from the Field: Demystifying Wilderness Therapy

Release Date: 06/22/2021

147: Learning differences and Wilderness Therapy show art 147: Learning differences and Wilderness Therapy

Stories from the Field: Demystifying Wilderness Therapy

Wilderness therapy programs have evolved over the last twenty years to better help those with learning differences that impact mental health. Many young people who enroll in wilderness therapy programs have undiagnosed learning differences, including dyslexia, ADHD, etc., that need to be addressed for a healthy change to occur.

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146: Margo Kelly, Course Leader/Therapist at True North show art 146: Margo Kelly, Course Leader/Therapist at True North

Stories from the Field: Demystifying Wilderness Therapy

Margo Kelly, MSW, MEd (they/them/theirs) is a course leader/therapist at True North in Vermont. Their journey to wilderness therapy began on a backpacking trip on the Long Trail when they came upon three different people who pointed them in the direction of True North. Margo was intrigued with an offer to be a therapist for the all-gender team and took the job. Margo shares their gender journey, their recommendations for treatment with trans and non-binary youth, and why wilderness therapy works so well.

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145: Jamila Minnifield: Primary Therapist at First Light Wilderness Therapy show art 145: Jamila Minnifield: Primary Therapist at First Light Wilderness Therapy

Stories from the Field: Demystifying Wilderness Therapy

Jamila Minnifield is a therapist at First Light Wilderness in Georgia. Jamila shares the story of her unusual journey to becoming a wilderness therapist, from her serendipitous learning about wilderness therapy on a backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail to being a field guide for over two years, although having already achieved her masters in counseling. Jamila is a trailblazer as she is the second black woman therapist in the field, and she is the first who was a field guide before being a therapist.

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144: How to get Insurance Reimbursement for Wilderness Therapy show art 144: How to get Insurance Reimbursement for Wilderness Therapy

Stories from the Field: Demystifying Wilderness Therapy

Mary Covington is the President of Denials Management, a healthcare advocacy firm specializing in mental health billing, claims, and appeals. Mary explains the critical steps in getting insurance reimbursement for wilderness therapy and how to appeal a denied insurance claim. Mary shares how insurance companies view outdoor behavioral healthcare and how Denials Management has helped parents recoup over 12 million dollars in reimbursement from insurance companies for wilderness therapy treatment.

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143: Financial Help for Wilderness Therapy Treatment, Part 2 show art 143: Financial Help for Wilderness Therapy Treatment, Part 2

Stories from the Field: Demystifying Wilderness Therapy

The cost of wilderness therapy treatment is expensive, yet several organizations will help. In this second of two episodes, we hear stories from leaders of non-profit organizations that help families by providing funds to help pay for wilderness therapy treatment. We talk with John Hunt from Jason William Hunt Foundation, Liz Bounds from the Parker Bounds Johnson Foundation, and Derek Daley from the Loa Fund. We will hear about the history of the organizations, how to apply for funds, and other resources.

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142: Financial Help for Wilderness Therapy Treatment, Part 1 show art 142: Financial Help for Wilderness Therapy Treatment, Part 1

Stories from the Field: Demystifying Wilderness Therapy

The cost of wilderness therapy treatment is expensive, yet several organizations will help. In this episode, we hear stories from leaders of non-profit organizations that help families by providing funds to help pay for wilderness therapy treatment. We talk with Debbie Roelands from Skys the Limit Fund, Brad Matheson from Choose Mental Health, and Miriam Miller from Charles N Miller Scholarship fund. They will share the history of the organizations, how to apply for funds and other resources for families.

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141: Philip Stallard, Founder of New Wave Wild Project in Ireland show art 141: Philip Stallard, Founder of New Wave Wild Project in Ireland

Stories from the Field: Demystifying Wilderness Therapy

Phil Stallard is the founder of the New Wave Wild Project in Ireland. Philip is the first person outside of the U.S. to become a Certified Clinical Adventure Therapist. Philip's journey into the field was filled was paved with the intention of legitimizing the Adventure Therapy profession in Ireland. He shares his story of how he became interested in the field and why he choose to become a clinical social worker. He goes into the evolution of New Wave and why he was awarded Entrepreneur of the Year.

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140: Harpa Erlendsdottir: Manager of the Icelandic Adventure Therapy Association. show art 140: Harpa Erlendsdottir: Manager of the Icelandic Adventure Therapy Association.

Stories from the Field: Demystifying Wilderness Therapy

Harpa Erlendsdottir is a clinical occupational therapist and the General Manager of the Icelandic Adventure Therapy Association. Growing up in the majestic beauty of Iceland inspired Harpa to become involved in the field. She shares her story of being involved in Scouting and learning about Experiential Education. She would travel to the U.S. to take a course at Project Adventure to learn more. She shares stories about her experiences in the field and the Gathering of Adventure Therapists in Europe.

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139: Andy Hardie: Clinical Manager at Venture Trust in the United Kingdom show art 139: Andy Hardie: Clinical Manager at Venture Trust in the United Kingdom

Stories from the Field: Demystifying Wilderness Therapy

Andy Hardie is the Clinical Manager of Venture Trust in the United Kingdom. Andy shares his journey into the field, which began when heading to the only university that accepted him to study Outdoor Leadership. He would go onto work at the original Outward Bound school. Andy shares how Venture Trust began as a 21-day “boot camp” style wilderness therapy program and has evolved to be a social change agent, including providing Outdoor Therapy for free to young people age 16-25 and ex-service members.

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138: Cindy Ross, author of 138: Cindy Ross, author of "Walking Toward Peace-Veterans Healing on America's Trails"

Stories from the Field: Demystifying Wilderness Therapy

Cindy Ross is the author of the new book, "Walking Toward Peace- Veterans Healing on America's Trails," which profiles combat veterans who found healing through the outdoors as well as long-distance expeditions. She shares her journey of writing the book and what she learned from veterans.

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More Episodes

In this episode, Dr. Mike Gass talks about research in the field of wilderness therapy that is occurring at the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Center (obhcenter.org) at the University of New Hampshire.
Dr. Gass reviews the history of the center, its leadership team, and the researchers. He shares how researchers address biases and how the center is funded. He educates about the research related to the safety of participants, transports of young people to programs, and a new million-dollar research study.

Bio from the OBHcenter.org website.

Michael Gass, PhD, LMFT, is a Professor and the Director of the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Research Center (obhcenter.org) at the University of New Hampshire.

Dr.  Gass received his PhD in educational research from the University of Colorado/Boulder and his postdoctoral work in clinical marriage and family therapy. With Drs. Gillis and Russell, he has published the leading textbook in the field (Adventure Therapy published by Routledge Press). Dr. Gass was the inaugural Chair of the AEE Accreditation Council for its first 10 years of existence as well as President of the Board of Directors of AEE in 1990. Some of his current research projects include: Risk management statistics of adventure therapy programs, adventure competencies for therapists, enhancement of NATSAP Practice Research Network database, researching adventure therapy programs with vulnerable populations, cost benefit analyses of outdoor behavioral healthcare programs, supporting emerging scholars/researchers in adventure therapy, and publishing and presenting in traditional mental health/psychology venues (e.g., APA). He is a licensed marriage and family therapist.