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228: Embark's Closure of New Visions and the Future of Wilderness Therapy

Stories from the Field: Mental Health and the Outdoors

Release Date: 03/19/2024

238: Adventure Therapy Innovations with Kim Sacksteder and Nick Magle-Haberek show art 238: Adventure Therapy Innovations with Kim Sacksteder and Nick Magle-Haberek

Stories from the Field: Mental Health and the Outdoors

In this episode Will welcomes Kim Sacksteder and Nick Magle-Haberek from to share their story. Discover how they have expanded their training and supervision programs, emphasizing safety, clinical efficacy, and the integration of outdoor activities into therapeutic practices. Kim and Nick discuss their journey from initial training sessions to becoming leading voices in adventure therapy, providing invaluable resources and training to clinicians across the country. Whether you're a mental health professional or someone interested in the transformative power of nature, this episode is packed...

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237: Climbing Mount Moosilauke: Therapy, Adventure, and Personal Triumph show art 237: Climbing Mount Moosilauke: Therapy, Adventure, and Personal Triumph

Stories from the Field: Mental Health and the Outdoors

In this week’s episode Will sits down with Zack Shaffer, executive director of , to discuss their recent hike up Mount Moosilauke. They recount the challenging Memorial Day hike with ten residents and adventure coordinator TJ Bauman, exploring the profound physical and emotional benefits of outdoor adventures in addressing anxiety. The episode delves into exposure therapy, adventure therapy, and the therapeutic effects of nature, highlighting how these experiences foster personal growth and resilience. Zack also shares a deeply personal story about the significance of the day, marking the...

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236: Healing in Nature: David Segal and Bonnie Dyck on Nature-Based Therapy show art 236: Healing in Nature: David Segal and Bonnie Dyck on Nature-Based Therapy

Stories from the Field: Mental Health and the Outdoors

In this episode, Will welcomes David Segal and Bonnie Dyck from the . They dive deep into their journeys into nature-based therapy, sharing how personal experiences and a profound connection to the natural world led them to the field. David discusses the systemic and experiential approach of Human Nature Counselling, emphasizing the importance of reconnecting individuals and families with nature to foster mental health and well-being. Bonnie elaborates on the comprehensive training programs they offer, designed to equip therapists with the skills needed to integrate nature into their...

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235: Thriving After Wilderness Therapy: Colin MacDonald's Path to Not Therapy show art 235: Thriving After Wilderness Therapy: Colin MacDonald's Path to Not Therapy

Stories from the Field: Mental Health and the Outdoors

In this episode, Will talks with Colin MacDonald, co-founder of . Colin shares his journey from being a wilderness therapy client and therapeutic boarding school student to graduating college and then entering the work-force.  Not finding deep meaning in his initial career path, Colin decided to become a certified young adult life coach to help others. He recounts the challenges he faced as an adolescent, including struggles with ADHD, depression, and substance abuse, and how wilderness therapy helped him turn his life around. Colin also discusses the mission of , which aims to...

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234: Enhancing Adventure Therapy Practice: Insights from Westminster University show art 234: Enhancing Adventure Therapy Practice: Insights from Westminster University

Stories from the Field: Mental Health and the Outdoors

In this episode Will talks with Dr. Patrick McMillon and Alex White from Westminster University in Utah. They discuss the Graduate Certificate in Adventure Therapy, a program designed to train clinicians in integrating adventure therapy into their practice. Dr. McMillon, the program coordinator, shares insights on the program's structure, which includes three intensive courses focused on theory, professional practice, and clinical application. Alex White, with over ten years of experience, highlights how the program prepares students to implement effective, ethical, and culturally relevant...

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233: Wilderness Therapy Under Fire: A Deep Dive with Reporter Jessica Miller show art 233: Wilderness Therapy Under Fire: A Deep Dive with Reporter Jessica Miller

Stories from the Field: Mental Health and the Outdoors

In this timely episode, Jessica Miller from the Salt Lake Tribune shares insights from her investigative article on the closures of wilderness therapy programs for teens in Utah. She discusses the factors driving these closures, such as negative media attention and financial challenges. Jessica provides an in-depth look at the current state of wilderness therapy in Utah and explains how the state government regulates the field. Tune in for an eye-opening discussion that sheds light on this crucial topic. Jessica Miller, an investigative reporter from the Salt Lake Tribune, reveals the...

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232: Exploring Outdoor Therapy with David Wynn from Blue Ridge Treks show art 232: Exploring Outdoor Therapy with David Wynn from Blue Ridge Treks

Stories from the Field: Mental Health and the Outdoors

In this episode Will chats with David Wynn, LCMHC, an outdoor mental health provider from Blue Ridge Treks. David shares his transformative journey from a river guide and camp mentor to a mental health professional, revealing how natural environments play a crucial role in psychological healing. He delves into the power of nature to transcend traditional therapy boundaries, offering clients a unique blend of psychological insight and environmental interaction. David discusses his approach to integrating therapeutic techniques with outdoor experiences, providing profound insights into how...

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231: Surf Therapy: A New Wave in Therapeutic Practices with Cash Lambert show art 231: Surf Therapy: A New Wave in Therapeutic Practices with Cash Lambert

Stories from the Field: Mental Health and the Outdoors

In this compelling episode, Will engages with Cash Lambert about his groundbreaking new book, "Surf Therapy: The Evidence-Based Science for Physical, Mental, and Emotional Well-being." Cash discusses his evolution from a journalism student, initially participating in a surf therapy event to fulfill volunteer hours, to an author dedicated to documenting the profound impacts of surf therapy. His journey began with witnessing the transformative effects of surfing on children with autism, leading to his first book, “Waves of Healing: How Surfing Changes the Lives of Children with Autism” that...

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230: Everest Inc.: Debunking Myths with Author Will Cockrell show art 230: Everest Inc.: Debunking Myths with Author Will Cockrell

Stories from the Field: Mental Health and the Outdoors

In this episode, Will talks with Will Cockrell, author of the new book, "Everest Inc.: The Renegades and Rogues Who Built an Industry at the Top of the World." Cockrell delves into the untold stories of the Everest guiding industry, offering a nuanced perspective that challenges the sensational narratives often associated with Everest. His book presents a counter-narrative, focusing on the complexity of the industry and the passionate individuals involved, rather than the common portrayals of chaos and disaster on the mountain. Cockrell explains his motivations for writing the book,...

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229: Healing in the Outdoors: 'No Child Left Inside” author Bryn Lottig on the Journey to Emotional Well-being show art 229: Healing in the Outdoors: 'No Child Left Inside” author Bryn Lottig on the Journey to Emotional Well-being

Stories from the Field: Mental Health and the Outdoors

In this episode, Will talks with Bryn Lottig who shares her compelling journey from an aspiring pilot changed by 9/11 to a pioneering force in the field of outdoor experiential education. Through her personal experiences with adversity, including a challenging childhood and a transformative experience with Outward Bound, Bryn discovered her passion for the outdoors and its profound impact on personal development. This realization led her to pursue a career that not only embraces adventure but also utilizes it as a tool for fostering social and emotional growth in individuals. Bryn co-founded ,...

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More Episodes

In this special episode, Will sheds light on the upheaval in the wilderness therapy landscape, particularly spotlighting the closure of Embark Behavioral Health's New Visions Wilderness Therapy programs. This narrative delves into the broader implications of private equity's role in the mental health care industry, with a focus on how these financial underpinnings have influenced the recent pivot away from wilderness therapy models, especially in the context of adolescent treatment. The episode underscores the closure of not just New Visions in Wisconsin and Deschutes Wilderness Therapy but notes a startling trend: the total cessation of ten adolescent wilderness therapy programs in the past year alone, signaling a seismic shift in the field.

In discussing New Visions Wilderness Therapy, the episode shares a brief history of the program and spotlights the utilization of trauma-informed care as a factor in its growth and success. The incorporation of trauma-informed practices into their treatment model did play a role in differentiating New Visions in a growing behavioral healthcare marketplace, aiding in its expansion and the subsequent interest from larger, investment-driven entities. This examination underscores the complexity of the adolescent wilderness therapy field, where clinical innovation intersects with business interests, leading to significant changes in the availability and approach to adolescent mental health care.

This episode navigates through the nuances of these closures and the broader implications for the changing wilderness therapy landscape, offering a dive into the intersection of financial decisions, clinical practices, and the changing dynamics of adolescent mental health treatment. As the wilderness therapy sector faces this pivotal juncture, White's analysis provides essential insights for professionals, families, and stakeholders, charting the ongoing evolution of treatment modalities in the face of economic and clinical challenges.

Article and podcast episodes talked about in this episode:

Wilderness Therapy Industry's Decline Accelerated by Embark Behavioral Health's Exit

Podcast episode with Steve Sawyer in which we talk about trauma-informed care

Podcast Interview with Drew Hornbeck, Co-founder of New Visions

Podcast Interview with Steve Sawyer, Co-founder of New Visions