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Nomadic Wilderness as a Relational Model of Healing Substance Use

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I have worked in a multitude of treatment settings from sober living communities, drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers, a university, and most recently found myself in a new container: the wilderness. I assumed that this treatment modality would be similar to the other environments I have worked in, only, it was doing therapy out in the woods. It had been a long time since I thought about how being outside unquestionably impacted my childhood. However, it didn't take long for me to remember just how profound a connection to the wilderness can be. I see this vital relationship to the outdoors forming in my students, and I know that they are learning so much from it, just as I have.

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You are Murdering My Childhood

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Between the ages of 9 and 12, Scotty’s life took a new path and no longer was he the carefree boy who would try anything without fear. No longer was he a dreamer of his future; instead he wanted to escape reality and live in Middle Earth. The blonde-haired, green-eyed boy with a heart and soul of kindness was angry, resentful, rebellious and putting on weight rapidly. We brushed it off as puberty, and I am sure part of it was, but I knew there was something deeper happening. I just didn’t understand it all. Why should I? I’ve never been depressed; I don’t understand the lure of that deep bottomless pit of despair. Instead, I live in the thought that the world is my oyster and full of possibilities. Why oh why did God give me children who see the world and life so differently from me? I don’t feel equipped. Now what?!

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Major Mom Guilt and the Start of the Suicide Watch

BRTW 8

A few years ago, it was early morning, and I was walking down the stairs to make a cup of coffee. I have this odd sense about me, and I know something is wrong. I can’t pinpoint it, and I am too exhausted to try. I feel tingly and weird and in full adrenaline mode. I turn the coffee maker on and notice we need paper towels; I go to the garage to get the towels. I see my husband’s sailing ropes laying on the ground. They are tied. My groggy brain brushes this observation off, and I go back to the kitchen to the coffee maker and look out the window. That’s weird, Scotty (age 12) is sleeping out in the grass with our Labrador, Fudge. Why? Part of me knows something isn’t right and part of me can’t comprehend why. I go outside, and he wakes up. He said Fudge was barking so he went out there to be with him. I am a smart person, I am a very intuitive person, yet I bought it, hook, line, and sinker. If only I had drunk my coffee before going in the garage, maybe I would’ve been aware and aw

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Struggling Story of 9 year's old Scotty and His Mother

A few years ago, it was early morning, and I was walking down the stairs to make a cup of coffee. I have this odd sense about me, and I know something is wrong. I can’t pinpoint it, and I am too exhausted to try. I feel tingly and weird and in full adrenaline mode. I turn the coffee maker on and notice we need paper towels; I go to the garage to get the towels. I see my husband’s sailing ropes laying on the ground.

scotty

They are tied. My groggy brain brushes this observation off, and I go back to the kitchen to the coffee maker and look out the window. That’s weird, Scotty (age 12) is sleeping out in the grass with our Labrador, Fudge. Why? Part of me knows something isn’t right and part of me can’t comprehend why. I go outside, and he wakes up. He said Fudge was barking so he went out there to be with him. I am a smart person, I am a very intuitive person, yet I bought it, hook, line, and sinker. If only I had drunk my coffee before going in the garage, maybe I would’ve been aware and a

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Struggling Story of 9 year's old Scotty and His Mother

scotty

A few years ago, it was early morning, and I was walking down the stairs to make a cup of coffee. I have this odd sense about me, and I know something is wrong. I can’t pinpoint it, and I am too exhausted to try. I feel tingly and weird and in full adrenaline mode. I turn the coffee maker on and notice we need paper towels; I go to the garage to get the towels. I see my husband’s sailing ropes laying on the ground. They are tied. My groggy brain brushes this observation off, and I go back to the kitchen to the coffee maker and look out the window. That’s weird, Scotty (age 12) is sleeping out in the grass with our Labrador, Fudge. Why? Part of me knows something isn’t right and part of me can’t comprehend why. I go outside, and he wakes up. He said Fudge was barking so he went out there to be with him. I am a smart person, I am a very intuitive person, yet I bought it, hook, line, and sinker. If only I had drunk my coffee before going in the garage, maybe I would’ve been aware and aw

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Parent Workshop – January 11 & 12 in Clayton, GA

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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.

Our next parent workshop is January 11 & 12 in Clayton, GA. These workshops are designed to be small to individualize the focus on your specific families.

  • Learn more about your child’s experience.
  • Understand and practice the tools they are using.
  • Learn how to identify the needs beneath the behavior and make a plan for your family.
  • Get support from and connect with other families.

There are times when the workshops can correspond to a visit or discharge, so feel free to talk with your field therapist about this as well.

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Asking Questions and Living the Answers: Finding Identity in the Wilderness

 

Tim

I discovered this incredible work by chance while searching through a listing of outdoor jobs on an online database in the summer of 2011. As a recent college graduate, I was neck deep in the angst of entering the job force. I had never heard of Wilderness Therapy before, and honestly, I remember feeling unsure if I wanted to do it or not. I pictured a boot camp where students just cried all day and yelled at each other as field instructors ran around saying things like, “take accountability for your actions!” or, “let the tears flow!” Nonetheless, something about it captivated my imagination. So I applied for a job as a Field Instructor and read every book about it I could get my hands on. As I read Shouting At The Sky, a book describing a writer’s personal wilderness therapy experience, I started to understand that this wasn’t like anything else I had ever heard of; it sounded compassionate, powerful, raw, even sacred.

 

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Finding Identity in the Wilderness

Tim

I discovered this incredible work by chance while searching through a listing of outdoor jobs on an online database in the summer of 2011. As a recent college graduate, I was neck deep in the angst of entering the job force. I had never heard of Wilderness Therapy before, and honestly, I remember feeling unsure if I wanted to do it or not. I pictured a boot camp where students just cried all day and yelled at each other as field instructors ran around saying things like, “take accountability for your actions!” or, “let the tears flow!” Nonetheless, something about it captivated my imagination. So I applied for a job as a Field Instructor and read every book about it I could get my hands on. As I read Shouting At The Sky, a book describing a writer’s personal wilderness therapy experience, I started to understand that this wasn’t like anything else I had ever heard of; it sounded compassionate, powerful, raw, even sacred.

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Parent Workshop – January 11 & 12 in Clayton, GA

dkamf-12-min-1080x675

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.

Our next parent workshop is January 11 & 12 in Clayton, GA. These workshops are designed to be small to individualize the focus on your specific families.

  • Learn more about your child’s experience.
  • Understand and practice the tools they are using.
  • Learn how to identify the needs beneath the behavior and make a plan for your family.
  • Get support from and connect with other families.

View more details of this Event

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Field Instructor Training – January 11th to January 17th

 

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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.

 

view full details and application form

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