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Treating Trauma, Grief, and Shame in Adolescent Boys

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As stated by EMDR Institute, Inc., “EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences.”  In sessions, clients shift patterns of avoidance and explore their memories and interpretations of past events. In between sets of eye movements, the therapist checks in with the client to follow how they are reprocessing the events and guide the client further. Typically, through EMDR, negative beliefs about self decrease and, following this, positive thoughts and perspectives are strengthened.

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Bilateral Stimulation in Wilderness Therapy: Treating Trauma, Grief, and Shame in Adolescent Boys

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As my training in EMDR was coming to a close, I had an interesting conversation with one of the primary facilitators, Frank. He described his efforts to bring EMDR treatment into public schools. He spoke with conviction about the need for and potential benefits of this treatment for children, and he lamented the opposition he’d encountered. Some of the students were very resistant, and this paled in comparison to parents who thought the protocol looked a lot like hypnosis. Though frustrated by this, Frank smiled as he described the solution he’d devised. Proudly, Frank displayed a toy ball that flashed when he slammed it against the table. “It’s the same thing!”, he exclaimed. “They can stare at this and get the same benefits!” Intrigued, I thought of my upcoming work at Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness. “What’s the difference in that and staring into a campfire?”, I asked Frank. “Nothing!”, he said. I explained my future work environment, and Frank encouraged me to explore my campf

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Field Instructor Training – May 17th to 23rd

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Thank you for your interest in Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness. We are a licensed treatment program that uses the wilderness setting to provide a clinically-focused intervention, teaching clients accountability, communication skills and healthy emotional and behavioral habits. BRTW’s main office is in Clayton, GA, in the southern Appalachian Mountains and borders the Chattahoochee and Nantahala National Forests. Clayton is conveniently located between Atlanta, GA, and Asheville, NC.

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Cultivating a “Growth Mindset” in Wilderness Therapy

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When my best friend first tossed the idea my way, I had two competing thoughts, of equal size and strength, immediately pop into my brain. Thought #1: “She believes in you, and wants what’s best for you. She wants to have a fun experience together.” Thought #2: “She is a lunatic, and even after being friends for 35 years, she is clearly trying to kill me.”

What was the idea she dared me to consider? To run a 10k race together, under the guise of “It’s for a GOOD CAUSE! Don’t you want to see these elementary school kids have the chance to have a new school?!”

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Putting On Your Oxygen Mask First: Self-Care for Parents and Givers

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As the Family Support Therapist at Blue Ridge, I work with the parents of our students in the field. My role is to offer space for families to experience their own process, which often parallels the student process but is distinctly different for obvious reasons. Teens are in the woods, with both the discomfort that it brings and the luxury of not having to attend to their “normal” lives. 

They get to be completely present with their feelings, wrapped up in 24/7 support. On the flip side, parents are trying to manage day to day life, kids, finances, responsibilities, etc. AND participate in this incredibly intense emotional experience. Parents have often been in crisis mode with their kids for months or years leading up to the wilderness experience and are quite simply exhausted. This sets the stage for discussion of self-care…before we can do meaningful work on family dynamics, parents must restore some semblance of their own emotional balance and stability. This is the essence of

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Putting On Your Oxygen Mask First: Self-Care for Parents and Givers

They get to be completely present with their feelings, wrapped up in 24/7 support. On the flip side, parents are trying to manage day to day life, kids, finances, responsibilities, etc. AND participate in this incredibly intense emotional experience. Parents have often been in crisis mode with their kids for months or years leading up to the wilderness experience and are quite simply exhausted. This sets the stage for discussion of self-care…before we can do meaningful work on family dynamics, parents must restore some semblance of their own emotional balance and stability. This is the essence of the oxygen mask.

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A Case for Inclement Weather -

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I don’t mean to craft the impression that it is all sunshine and rainbows whenever the weather turns bad because often the physical discomfort is exactly what is needed to bring old behavior patterns to the surface. We see big behaviors in bad weather. And, we often witness a powerful building of self-efficacy as they choose to respond to the weather with a sense of empowerment rather than as a victim of circumstance. It is truly incredible to see.

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Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness Blog

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The traditional backpacker’s diet is known for dried meat, pasta, beans, and grains. Not exactly a rainbow of colorful fruits and veggies! At Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness our pursuit of the best possible nutrition for our students is constantly evolving. We work alongside a nutritionist to identify the optimal combination of calorie density, nutrients, protein, and carbohydrates to support the activity of backpacking without loading up on sugar and processed foods. This is challenging, because we also have the concern of weight as well as traditional foodie favorites of our staff and students.

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The Importance of Multicultural Awareness in Wilderness Treatment Settings

Any seasoned wilderness therapy staff knows the importance of students remaining well-hydrated. Being that our bodies are comprised of so much water, drinking plenty of it every day helps keep students’ bodies functioning properly; it helps with regulation of body temperature, aids in removing toxins, helps acclimatize the body to new altitudes, prevents headaches and even irritability (both can be signs of dehydration) and helps the skin and hair maintain moisture and deliver essential nutrients to the cells.

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Thriving in Adversity - A Case for Inclement Weather

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It was a sunny day, and very cold. A bitter wind whipped across the gap where we were camping, moving in like roaring waves from the next ridge and quickly stripping away any ambient heat from the fire. Despite being early afternoon, it was very cold. Most of the new members of the group were working on personal assignments in the large 10-person tent that protected us from the elements

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