Evoke Therapy Programs has always incorporated the family into our therapeutic approach. When we started doing wilderness therapy more than 20 years ago we knew how essential it was to involve the family. Back then it looked like phone calls, letter writing, and what we called a transition camp where families were reunited with their child and practiced their newly learned tools. Now, it’s so much more.
It is my sincere hope that many of you who are reading this looked into what research that has been done about the field of Wilderness Therapy (WT), and the methods and outcomes, in an attempt to determine if this would benefit your child. In doing so, you likely came across the terms Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare (OBH) and National Alliance of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP). Partially I hope this so that you are more confident and educated consumers, and partially so that your mind may have been put at ease about your decision.
Often when I am working with a new family the fact comes up that I (and other therapists at Evoke) spend two days of the week in the field. At this point I can usually hear anxiety and concern in their tone, "You only see my daughter or son for two days? What happens the other five days of the week?"
"At the deepest level, the creative process and the healing process arise from a single source. When you are an artist, you are a healer; a wordless trust of the same mystery is the foundation of your work and its integrity."
I have been thinking a lot lately around my graduate studies and training to become a therapist. I remember having a mentor (and highly seasoned clinician) reach out to me to congratulate me on my graduation a couple of years ago. The first thing he said was, “Now, all you have to do is forget everything you learned and start actually doing therapy.” We both laughed, but the reality was that he understood there was some truth behind this. Graduate school and additional training did an adequate job preparing me for the job of being a therapist, but ultimately didn’t completely teach me the art of truly being with another person. This became an integral part of my post-graduate training, and something I am sure I will continue to work on for decades.
This past week, I took a vacation to the Sierras to camp and hike with a friend (yes, I spend my free time outside, too!). My hope was to get some time to unwind and unplug, and I was particularly excited to get some good, quality sleep. I spent five years as a Field Instructor at Entrada, and most nights in the field with the groups, I fell asleep promptly, slept deeply, and woke rested. I always attributed this to simply sleeping outside, away from phones and screens and all the typical nightly distractions.
I worked with a student recently who I will call Al. Al did not trust me and he had reason not to. He had been hurt by many people in his life and he was wary of putting his trust into another. In our first session together I noticed him watching me whenever I wrote a note. About half way into our session I asked him if he would like to read what I was writing. I was honest with him and shared what I had written and why. Al’s next statement of mistrust was to ask me, “What is your strategy here?”
Much of what I have learned about the work I do everyday holding space for parents regarding their struggling kids came from my experience working at a residential treatment center (RTC) for adolescent girls. I, myself, am not a parent , but through this job I got the opportunity to experience what it’s like to be around, engage with, set boundaries with, and love teenage girls in a highly intense environment.