226 episodes

Stories from the Field: Mental Health in the Outdoors is an authoritative and enlightening podcast that explores the vast landscape of mental health therapies in outdoor settings. Hosted by seasoned mental health professional Dr. Will White, the podcast offers deep insights into outdoor therapies like Adventure Therapy, Eco-Therapy, Wilderness Therapy, and Experiential Therapy, among others.

Dr. White engages with a diverse range of guests, including leading researchers, practitioners, authors, executive directors, guide staff, mental health clinicians, and critics, helping to shed light on the nuances of these unique therapy practices. In addition to exploring the modern implications of these evolving therapeutic modalities, he delves into their rich history, providing a holistic perspective for listeners.

With over 30 years of experience at the juncture of mental health and outdoor environments, Dr. White's expertise is unparalleled. As a co-founder of the pioneering Summit Achievement, an adventure therapy program based in Maine, he has been a guiding force in the field since the 1990s. His scholarly contributions include the book "Stories from the Field: A History of Wilderness Therapy" and a chapter in "Adventure Therapy: Theories, Research, and Practice." His doctorate work, "Stories from the Elders: Chronicles and Narratives from the Early Years of Wilderness Therapy," traced the origins and evolution of this specialized field.

To connect with Dr. White, visit storiesfromthefield.com. Listen to this immersive podcast to understand the power and potential of outdoor therapies in addressing mental health concerns.

Stories from the Field: Mental Health and the Outdoors Will White

    • Health & Fitness
    • 4.7 • 96 Ratings

Stories from the Field: Mental Health in the Outdoors is an authoritative and enlightening podcast that explores the vast landscape of mental health therapies in outdoor settings. Hosted by seasoned mental health professional Dr. Will White, the podcast offers deep insights into outdoor therapies like Adventure Therapy, Eco-Therapy, Wilderness Therapy, and Experiential Therapy, among others.

Dr. White engages with a diverse range of guests, including leading researchers, practitioners, authors, executive directors, guide staff, mental health clinicians, and critics, helping to shed light on the nuances of these unique therapy practices. In addition to exploring the modern implications of these evolving therapeutic modalities, he delves into their rich history, providing a holistic perspective for listeners.

With over 30 years of experience at the juncture of mental health and outdoor environments, Dr. White's expertise is unparalleled. As a co-founder of the pioneering Summit Achievement, an adventure therapy program based in Maine, he has been a guiding force in the field since the 1990s. His scholarly contributions include the book "Stories from the Field: A History of Wilderness Therapy" and a chapter in "Adventure Therapy: Theories, Research, and Practice." His doctorate work, "Stories from the Elders: Chronicles and Narratives from the Early Years of Wilderness Therapy," traced the origins and evolution of this specialized field.

To connect with Dr. White, visit storiesfromthefield.com. Listen to this immersive podcast to understand the power and potential of outdoor therapies in addressing mental health concerns.

    From Addiction to Adventure: How Nature Transforms Lives with Nate Bennick

    From Addiction to Adventure: How Nature Transforms Lives with Nate Bennick

    In this episode Will sits down with Nate Bennick, the National Field Director for Adventure Recovery, to dive into the transformative power of combining mental health treatment with outdoor adventures. Nate shares his personal journey from battling addiction to finding solace and strength in the wilderness, leading him to his role in Adventure Recovery. Nate's story exemplifies the impact of nature-based immersions and adventure in fostering recovery and self-discovery, resonating with anyone looking for a path to healing outside the conventional therapy rooms.
    Nate shares his story from working in the confines of traditional residential treatment programs to the expansive possibilities offered by wilderness therapy. The episode delves into how Adventure Recovery leverages adventure and the natural world as vehicles for change, providing individuals in recovery with opportunities to challenge themselves, enhance resilience, and cultivate a sense of community. It further highlights the operational aspects of Adventure Recovery, including the preparation and certification of guides, the array of activities available, and the tailored support provided to clients on their recovery journeys.
    This episode not only illuminates the innovative approach of Adventure Recovery but also stands as a tribute to the therapeutic potential of the outdoors. Nate's dedication to aiding others in finding their recovery path through adventure is both moving and motivational, making this episode essential listening for anyone interested in the confluence of mental health treatment and outdoor exploration.
    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 Field.com.

    • 48 min
    Embracing Adventure for Recovery: The Foundation House Experience

    Embracing Adventure for Recovery: The Foundation House Experience

     In this episode Will talks with Dan Schmader, the Program Director at Foundation House, to delve into the therapeutic integration of outdoor activities in the realm of mental health and addiction recovery. Schmader unveils the unique approach of Foundation House, located in Portland, Maine, emphasizing its dedication to males aged 17 to 35. He outlines the transition journey of residents from structured care environments to a blend of Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP) and Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP), all while residing in a sober living house. Schmader highlights the program's success in leveraging the natural beauty and resources of Portland and Bethel, Maine, to foster recovery through a diverse array of outdoor activities, including wilderness outings, sports, and life skills workshops.
    The conversation further explores the profound impact of outdoor adventures on the residents' recovery process. Schmader shares personal anecdotes and the transformative experiences of participating in both local and international expeditions, such as service work in the US Virgin Islands and trekking in Patagonia. These adventures, rooted in challenges, accountability, and teamwork, significantly contribute to the mental, spiritual, and physical facets of recovery. Schmader’s own journey from a resident to a leading figure at Foundation House underscores the profound personal and communal growth facilitated by the program.
    Conclusively, this episode not only sheds light on Foundation House's innovative treatment model but also underscores the invaluable role of outdoor activities in healing and recovery. The discussion vividly illustrates how embracing adventure, confronting challenges, and fostering connections can pave the way for a renewed sense of purpose and well-being among individuals battling addiction.
    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 Field.com.

    • 45 min
    Navigating Controversy: Dr. Madolyn Liebing's Take on Wilderness Therapy's Future and Addiction Treatment in Outdoor Settings

    Navigating Controversy: Dr. Madolyn Liebing's Take on Wilderness Therapy's Future and Addiction Treatment in Outdoor Settings

    In this enlightening episode Will sits down with Dr. Madolyn Liebing, a historical figure in the wilderness therapy field and the clinical director at Legacy Outdoor Adventures and Juniper Recovery Center. Dr. Liebing provides an in-depth look at their blended program for adults, which combines intensive clinical therapy with experiential outdoor adventures, designed to support smoother transitions for clients into their communities. She discusses the therapeutic modalities employed, such as EMDR and emotion-focused therapy, and underscores the importance of addressing trauma, substance abuse, and family dynamics within a nurturing, natural environment.
    Dr. Liebing candidly addresses the controversies surrounding wilderness therapy for adolescents, including the criticism following the Netflix documentary "Hell Camp: Teen Nightmare." She shares her concerns about the field including transporting teens as well as generalizations that have tarnished the reputation of wilderness therapy, emphasizing the rigorous safety protocols and therapeutic benefits of well-run programs. Through personal anecdotes and client stories, Dr. Liebing illustrates the profound transformations that can occur when individuals are given the opportunity to heal in the wilderness, away from the pressures and distractions of their usual environments.
    The episode takes a deeper dive into the challenges faced by the wilderness therapy field, with Dr. Liebing reflecting on the closures of adolescent wilderness programs and the impact of social media and public perception. Despite these hurdles, she remains optimistic about the future of wilderness therapy, advocating for the expansion of outdoor-based therapeutic models that can reach more individuals in need. Dr. Liebing's insights not only highlight the innovative work being done at Legacy Outdoor Adventures and Juniper Recovery Center but also champion the crucial role of nature in recovery and personal growth, offering a powerful counter-narrative to the skepticism surrounding the field.
    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 Field.com.

    • 50 min
    Recovery in the Outdoors: Roy DuPrez's Journey to Sobriety and the Back2Basics Story

    Recovery in the Outdoors: Roy DuPrez's Journey to Sobriety and the Back2Basics Story

    In this episode Will sits down with Roy DuPrez, CEO and Founder of Back2Basics, an outdoor-based recovery program in Arizona.  Roy shares his personal journey of recovery, beginning with his early struggles with alcohol and substance abuse in Venice Beach, California. He describes the allure of alcohol in his youth, influenced by his social environment and the perception of success and attractiveness associated with drinking. Roy's journey through addiction led to various consequences, including legal troubles and professional setbacks.
    Moving to Flagstaff, Arizona, for a fresh start, Roy found a shift in his life. Despite continuing his drinking habits initially, he eventually reached a turning point in 2001, leading him to embrace recovery and sobriety. This transformation was bolstered by outdoor experiences, such as visiting the Grand Canyon, which provided a profound sense of perspective and renewal.
    Roy shares the story of starting Back2Basics in 2010, combining his experiences with a unique recovery model that integrates outdoor expeditions with clinical therapy. The program, initially private pay but later accepting insurance, targets young men aged 18 to 35, offering a 90-day minimum stay with most staying longer. This approach allows for the planting of seeds of recovery, personal growth, and the development of life skills in a supportive environment.
    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 Field.com.
     

    • 49 min
    Empowering Young Adults when “At the Crossroads” with Mike Hench

    Empowering Young Adults when “At the Crossroads” with Mike Hench

    In this enlightening episode Will welcomes Mike Hench from At the Crossroads, a program dedicated to helping young adults navigate the challenges of transitioning to adulthood. Mike shares the inspiring journey of At the Crossroads, which began in 2005 as a brainchild of Brian and Shannon Virgin, aimed at helping young adults in less restrictive environments than traditional residential programs. The program, located in St. George, Utah, offers a unique blend of real-life experiences, community integration, and outdoor experiences, catering to young adults struggling with issues like social anxiety, depression, and substance use.
    Mike delves into the evolution of client demographics at the At the Crossroads program, noting a shift towards individuals with complex psychological issues rather than substance abuse. He emphasizes the therapeutic power of nature, sharing personal experiences of transformative moments with clients during outdoor activities like hiking. These interactions highlight the significant role of nature in promoting mental wellness and personal growth.
    The episode also touches on the broader landscape of mental health and outdoor therapy, specifically the wilderness therapy field. Mike discusses the challenges and changes in the field, including the impact of the pandemic and shifts in treatment models. He underlines the importance of innovative approaches and the increasing need for services that address unique modern challenges faced by young adults.
    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 Field.com.
     

    • 40 min
    The Closure of Open Sky: Is this the “Winter” of Wilderness Therapy?

    The Closure of Open Sky: Is this the “Winter” of Wilderness Therapy?

    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 Field.com.
     

    • 29 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
96 Ratings

96 Ratings

New Portugese ,

Stellar podcast on mental health in the outdoors

Every time I listen, I’m challenged and encouraged. I find my skills as a mental health provider improved, and I find a joy in my steps as I listen to what others are doing to help people get healthy in the outdoors.

kmahler15 ,

A must listen for mental health professionals

The podcast I didn’t know I needed! Stories from the field is packed full of wisdom and personal anecdotes about how adventure therapy and challenging life events has the potential to elevate your life in unimaginable ways. Thank you Will as always for being such a strong advocate for this field, our work and the stories behind each and every one of us. Can’t wait to keep listening!

ashleybubba808 ,

Will White is Awesome

As a mental health clinician working in residential treatment, I have always had a preconceived idea of what wilderness therapy looks like. I have learned so much from this podcast that has really helped with my perspective on this powerful treatment. Will White is awesome! He knows how to hold a dang good conversation!!!! And I am so so so fortunate to be working closely with him this year, continuing to learn from his experience and wisdom! 🖤

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