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Stories from the Field: Mental Health and the Outdoors

Nov 16, 2021

Margo Kelly, MSW, MEd (they/them/theirs) is a course leader/therapist at True North in Vermont. Their journey to wilderness therapy began on a backpacking trip on the Long Trail when they came upon three different people who pointed them in the direction of True North. Margo was intrigued with an offer to be a therapist for the all-gender team and took the job.
Margo shares their gender journey, their recommendations for treatment with trans and non-binary youth, and why wilderness therapy works so well.


Margo's bio from the True North Website:

Margo (they/them/theirs) was born and raised in Chicago. They spent their childhood swimming in Lake Michigan, road tripping with their family, and camping throughout the Midwest. They received a bachelor’s degree from University of Washington in Seattle, studying Early Education and Anthropology. Margo then traveled to Romania to work with children living in group homes, gaining insight in how environments influence children’s resiliency and practicing a strength-based approach within a different worldview. Margo returned to Seattle and spent 8 years working in public schools to build students’ social emotional skills and provide wrap-around services for families.

Margo went on to work with clients in crisis who were experiencing sexual assault or domestic violence. This work propelled Margo to earn their Master of Social Work and Master of Education in Human Sexuality from Widener University in Philadelphia, PA. In graduate school, Margo gained valuable experience at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia within the Gender and Sexuality Clinic and Adolescent Health fellowship. They have experience supporting adolescents and young adults with anxiety, depression, disordered eating, gender variance, relationship health, and neurodiversity. Margo specializes in gender and sexuality development, identity formation, and sexual and relationship health.

Margo approaches therapy from a relational, trauma-sensitive, and strengths-based perspective and believes the wilderness offers experiential learning that cultivates growth within the mind, body, and spirit.

Throughout all their work, Margo maintained a strong connection to the outdoors in their personal life, backpacking throughout the pacific northwest, west coast, and now the northeast. Margo continues to enjoy the outdoors through hiking, camping, biking, or snowshoeing. They can also be found puzzling, dancing, rollerblading, cooking, or stooping on their front porch.

For more information about Margo and their group at True North, please take a moment to watch this brief video.