Matt Hoag

How does wilderness therapy work? Using Yalom’s principles of group therapy to provide clarity

Posted by Matt Hoag on March 28, 2023 | 1 comment(s)

8448BA59 2F25 4B03 9C6F C889B0344D71 1 201 aWhen people ask me how wilderness therapy works, many different answers come to mind. I think of the outcome research that has been done in wilderness therapy using valid measures of tracking progress. I think of the thousands of young people I have worked with personally over the last 25 years. I think of the many stories I have heard from families of how their child responded in the wilderness. I think of the importance of the guides and the work they do with young people day after day. There are so many great answers to consider. Today, I wanted to share about some of the underlying principles that contribute to this success.

Read the full post

The Art of Writing Letters: Therapeutic Intention and Process

Posted by Matt Hoag on October 26, 2022 | 0 comment(s)

8448BA59 2F25 4B03 9C6F C889B0344D71 1 201 aEach week we ask parents and their adolescent children to communicate by writing letters. Letter writing can be one of the most powerful tools you have to establish new ways of relating and communicating hopes and feelings. Letter writing can be seen as an opportunity to re-author your relationship with your child. It also provides a forum for you to assess and consider patterns your child engages in when communicating with you through letters.

Read the full post

Understanding, Supporting, and Treating Young People with Pathological Demand Avoidance

Posted by Dr. Matt Hoag on February 23, 2022 | 1 comment(s)

 8F839954 F0C6 44E6 85EE ACB8101CDC7ELast month I presented at the National Association for Therapeutic Programs annual conference about a relatively new profile called Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA). PDA has been studied over the last 40 years by psychologists and mental health providers. Elizabeth Newson, a British developmental psychologist, and her colleagues, were some of the first to explore the profile of these young people referred for assessment, diagnosis, and treatment who reminded referring professionals of autism but differed in important ways (e.g., sociability and imaginative play) (Newson, Le Marechal & David, 2003). It became clear to Newson and her colleagues that these young people did not fit into traditional Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) type diagnoses, and they proposed a separate diagnosis (PDA) within the general diagnostic category of pervasive developmental disorders.

Read the full post

Wilderness Therapy: Sophisticated Clinical Treatment by Getting Back to Basics

Posted by Dr. Matt Hoag on June 23, 2021 | 0 comment(s)

8F839954 F0C6 44E6 85EE ACB8101CDC7EAt Evoke we strive for and look to be creative; not just engaging in the "treatment as usual" approach. Often when we meet as a clinical team, we find ourselves discussing challenging cases or processes with families. Mental health is messy. It is tough. We are often working with families and young people during some of their worst moments, on some of the most challenging days of their lives. We provide support and care; often in an emergency and often quickly when people are in crisis. The importance of compassion and thoughtfulness cannot be overstated.

Read the full post

The Importance of Doing Your Own Work: Lessons from The Audacity to Be You

Posted by Dr. Matt Hoag on January 20, 2021 | 0 comment(s)

8F839954 F0C6 44E6 85EE ACB8101CDC7ESo, you have just enrolled your teenager in a wilderness therapy program. You eagerly await that first call, waiting to hear how they are doing, wondering how they are settling in. You get the initial update, and it sounds like they are still repeating many of the same behaviors from home. You get the next few weekly updates, and they are still being __________ (fill in the blank with the concerning behavior). You start to wonder when the change will begin to occur, and when the magic of the wilderness will impact your child. You grow impatient and question, “Why isn’t this working?”

Read the full post

We ALL Grieve

Posted by Matt Hoag on November 25, 2020 | 2 comment(s)

251A1363 B7F9 470E B7CD 4FE397C2A40F 1 201 aWe all grieve! Yes, I used an exclamation point to draw attention to this idea. We all grieve; sometimes we grieve small things, sometimes we grieve significant losses in our lives. Grief and depression are common and “normal” responses to loss. Dr. Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’ book, On Death and Dying, describes a cycle of emotional states that are often characterized as the Grief Cycle. At some point in our lives, each of us faces the loss of someone or something dear to us. The grief that follows such a loss can seem unbearable, but grief is actually a healing process. Grief is the emotional suffering we feel after a loss of some kind.

Read the full post

What do you know about me? What do I know about myself?

Posted by Dr. Matt Hoag on October 28, 2020 | 0 comment(s)

2AEC91AA 57BC 49C7 AC20 A02667525C75One of the best parts about working with adolescents is the significant role they play in the change process for each other. Many parents question how other young people, typically with similar challenges and difficulties, could be helpful to their child in the wilderness. The wilderness group is like a microcosm of the social dynamic at home, with an overlay of therapeutic support and intention. This therapeutic support assists with supporting young people as they navigate making changes in their lives.

Read the full post

Heroic Parent Work: Writing Your Letter of Awareness

Posted by Dr. Matt Hoag on June 03, 2020 | 0 comment(s)

1matt resizedWilderness treatment began as an intervention where the identified patient, typically an adolescent or young adult, left their home to go and receive therapy in an outdoor setting. Yet, the patient’s challenges occurred within a family setting and dynamic, so wilderness therapy has evolved to include the parents in the treatment process, rather than just their child. Evoke has taken the lead in involving parents in Wilderness Treatment, as family systems and dynamics have increasingly become emphasized and explored. We offer the following interventions:

Read the full post

Our Field Instructors Rock!

Posted by Dr. Matt Hoag on March 05, 2019 | 2 comment(s)

1matt resizedI am often asked about the things that set Evoke Therapy Programs apart from other Wilderness programs. One of the answers that I share is regarding the quality of our staff. I think many programs speak about the quality or skill level of their staff, and at Evoke we really mean it. As the Clinical Director, I interview people from other programs, and as a researcher, I present with a variety of clinicians from other Wilderness and Treatment programs. I am struck by how differently we engage and utilize our Field Instructors compared to other programs. Our investment with regard to time and energy pays off as we watch staff develop in some incredible ways. Here are some of the strengths that stand out to me:

Read the full post

Why Research is Not Boring

Posted by Matt Hoag, Ph.D., Owner, Clinical Director and Therapist at Entrada on March 22, 2017 | 0 comment(s)

1matt resizedMany people hear words like research, statistics, and outcome and quickly become disinterested or stare blankly into space! Others get excited to hear about MANOVAS or degrees of freedom or significance levels. Research in psychology tends to be a bit more interesting, especially since it relates to human conditions that many of us can identify within our own lives.

Read the full post