Health and Education

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Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness Celebrates One Year!

This week we are celebrating one year as Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness! So much has changed in the last year and we are thrilled to share our evolution and growth. We are proud to continually serve and support families with a primary goal of setting up students and families on their path to healing and helping teens to reconnect with the best version of themselves.

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Cultivating a “Growth Mindset” in Wilderness Therapy

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.”

 

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What Wilderness Means to Me

AT White Mountains

I had no idea what I was getting into when I started as a field guide in 2011. What I did know, however, was that the wilderness provides a powerful backdrop for anyone searching for something. I had recently gotten back from a four and a half month backpacking trip from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachian Trail (The “AT”), where I had experienced that fact first hand. When I started the Appalachian Trail, on the surface I was a confident and probably somewhat arrogant recent college grad. However, internally I was scared to death by the fact that I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I had always liked the outdoors but unlike many of the people I met during the trip, I was not fulfilling a lifelong dream by hiking the full length of the AT. Rather, I was fulfilling a dream that I had had for all of about two months after realizing that I was about to have to graduate and this was something that could help delay my entrance into “the real world.”

 

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What Wilderness Means to Me

AT White Mountains

I had no idea what I was getting into when I started as a field guide in 2011. What I did know, however, was that the wilderness provides a powerful backdrop for anyone searching for something. I had recently gotten back from a four and a half month backpacking trip from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachian Trail (The “AT”), where I had experienced that fact first hand. When I started the Appalachian Trail, on the surface I was a confident and probably somewhat arrogant recent college grad. However, internally I was scared to death by the fact that I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I had always liked the outdoors but unlike many of the people I met during the trip, I was not fulfilling a lifelong dream by hiking the full length of the AT. Rather, I was fulfilling a dream that I had had for all of about two months after realizing that I was about to have to graduate and this was something that could help delay my entrance into “the real world.”

 

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Parent Workshop – December 7 & 8 in Clayton, GA

July 17, 2012, is a day forever burned in my memory. It is the day that I witnessed my son have his first grand mal seizure. He was nine years old. It is also the day that began our family journey toward learning about epilepsy and the number of kids on the autism spectrum that struggle with this comorbid condition.

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Parent Workshop – December 7 & 8 in Clayton, GA

BlueRidgeWilderness Parentstherapy

At Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness, we believe that respectfully addressing the family dynamics and improving communication between parents and children throughout the entire process is paramount. The family is essential to the progress a student makes.

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

AT Finish

 

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. 

 

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The Benefits of Mindfulness

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So why practice mindfulness?  As we take time to be present to our experiences, and practice focusing on the present, we actually rewire our brains by creating new neural networks.  What are neural networks, you ask? When we learn behavior (how to swim, how to write the alphabet, how to drive a car) we create a neural network in the brain--neural networks, essentially, are neurons collecting signals from others and this creates electric activity that creates connective branches in the brain. The more we repeat this behavior, the stronger the neural network becomes, and we establish this network as an “expert”—meaning that it is fully learned behavior (we don’t have to relearn it).  Students hiking through the wilderness is a beautiful metaphor for this process.  Imagine a single-track trail in the woods.  The more this single-track is used, the more established it becomes.  If we imagine how our road system started, many thoroughfares were once dirt roads, and the more certain roads

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What Wilderness Means to Me

AT Finish

I had no idea what I was getting into when I started as a field guide in 2011. What I did know, however, was that the wilderness provides a powerful backdrop for anyone searching for something. I had recently gotten back from a four and a half month backpacking trip from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachian Trail (The “AT”), where I had experienced that fact first hand. When I started the Appalachian Trail, on the surface I was a confident and probably somewhat arrogant recent college grad. However, internally I was scared to death by the fact that I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I had always liked the outdoors but unlike many of the people I met during the trip, I was not fulfilling a lifelong dream by hiking the full length of the AT. Rather, I was fulfilling a dream that I had had for all of about two months after realizing that I was about to have to graduate and this was something that could help delay my entrance into “the real world.”

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5 Things To Know About Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness

IMG_1737-min

"What's new with Blue Ridge?" This question is one we often get asked. We have a fantastic team, strong leadership, and a comprehensive, individualized, clinical assessment focused program for teens and their families. We’re taking the opportunity to share more about Blue Ridge’s program and communicate what’s changed (and what hasn’t). Here are 5 things to know about us.

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