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Stories from the Field: Mental Health and the Outdoors

Jan 16, 2024

In this special episode Will discusses the announcement of the upcoming closure of Open Sky Wilderness Therapy, marking a significant moment in the private pay, adolescent-focused wilderness therapy sector. This closure is part of a larger trend, as Open Sky is the fifth program of its kind to shut down within a year. The episode offers an in-depth analysis of these closures, examining common challenges such as shifting societal perceptions, increased competition from other types of mental health treatment, and economic difficulties.

Listeners are taken through a journey beginning with a reading of Open Sky's closure announcement, offering a personal and direct insight into the issues faced by the program. The episode revisits previous interviews with Open Sky employees, highlighting their dedication to providing exceptional outdoor mental health care for adolescents. In a reflective essay, the Will draws parallels between the current state of wilderness therapy and a 'winter' phase – a time for introspection and preparation for future growth.

Significantly, the episode also revisits a January 2021 interview with Kenneth Rosen, author of “Troubled: The Failed Promise of America’s Behavioral Treatment Programs”, who had predicted these closures in a conversation with Will. This discussion offers a unique perspective on the challenges and criticisms facing the adolescent wilderness therapy sector, providing a comprehensive understanding of its evolution and the potential paths forward. This episode is a must-listen for anyone interested in the complex dynamics of wilderness therapy and the factors shaping its future.

We want to thank Adventure Recovery for underwriting Season 18 which focuses on addiction and recovery. 

Listeners are invited to explore the rich archives of over 200 episodes of this podcast on Stories from the