Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Stories from the Field: Mental Health and the Outdoors

Dec 7, 2021

What happens after a young person discharges from a wilderness therapy program? Do they transition home, therapeutic boarding school, or to a traditional school environment? This episode discusses aftercare planning at wilderness therapy programs for teens and how it has changed over 20 years, with more young people returning home or other traditional settings with support from coaches and outpatient therapists.
We dive into this topic with Nichol Ernst, Executive Director at Summit Achievement.


Nichol's Bio from Summit's Webpage:

Nichol is a lifelong Mainer. He was born in Portland. Nichol spent his childhood enjoying all that the ocean and mountains of Maine have to offer.  Nichol has only once lived out of the state to pursue his undergraduate degree at Brown University.  Nichol then fulfilled his lifelong dream of moving west by migrating west of Portland toward the border of New Hampshire, where he now lives.

Nichol spent many years as a field guide at Summit, beginning in the fall of 2003. Inspired by his work at Summit, Nichol received his Masters In Social work from the University Of New England. He began working full-time as a therapist at Summit in 2008.

Later, Nichol became the Clinical Director of Summit Achievement. He served in that role for many years, though now he is currently the Executive Director of Summit Achievement. While he loves his leadership role, he still carries a small caseload as a therapist. Nichol’s areas of expertise include cognitive-behavioral therapy, family systems theory, and social coaching. Additionally, Nichol is certified in EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy) and Mindfulness. In 2018 Nichol became a co-owner of Summit.

Nichol and his certified therapy dog, Baxter, are often found walking through the woods with students or joining them on their wilderness expeditions. When not working with students and families, Nichol can be found working on his small farm in Western Maine with his family cultivating therapeutic metaphors.