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Over Stressed? Taking the Trauma Out of Wilderness Therapy


Steve Sawyer, LCSW, CSAC Chief Clinical Consultant | Co-Founder of New Vision Wilderness in Wisconsin, Deschutes Wilderness in Bend Oregon, and First Light Wilderness in Georgia


Brenda Zane is a Sky’s the Limit Fund board member, Founder of Hopestream Community, and podcast host of Hopestream

About the episode:

An informative discussion with Steve Sawyer about stress and trauma. His conversation helps us understand extensive stress and differentiates going from Trauma Informed to Trauma Responsive treatment.

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Will White’s podcast, Stories from the Field, episodes 71 and 154. 

Brenda 0:00
Hello, welcome to another Sky’s the Limit Fund Speaker Series. I am Brenda Zane. I’m your host. Today, I’m a board member for Sky’s the Limit Fund. And I’m the lucky person who gets to talk with these incredible people about wilderness therapy and all of the different aspects around that. And just a quick introduction, if you don’t know, Sky’s the Limit Fund, we are a nonprofit that helps families in crisis have access to wilderness therapy, when it might not be an option for them on their own. And so we have incredible partners that we work with wilderness therapy programs, and we work together with them to get kids into wilderness therapy when they need it, when the family is in crisis. And then after the wilderness therapy, we also wrap that family in services, both the young person who is coming home, to give them some scaffolding around them, and then also for the parents with coaching. So incredible organization, if your current donor, thank you so much for everything that you do to help us get these kids there. And if you’re considering giving it is an incredible organization to give to. And the funds go directly to these kids who are getting help. So I am really honored to be here today with Steve Sawyer, we are going to be talking about trauma, which is I think, getting more and more airtime that I see. And I think it can be very confusing for parents to understand. Has their child been traumatized? If so, what was that experience? And what what impact can it have? And so I’m really excited to talk with Steve today. And I will let him introduce himself. But he is the co founder of New Vision Wilderness in Wisconsin, Deschutes Wilderness in Bend, Oregon and Firstlight Wilderness in Georgia. So if anyone knows wilderness therapy, this is the person. So welcome, Steve to the Sky’s the Limit Fund Speaker Series.

Steve 2:04
Thanks for having me. Looking forward to this.

Brenda 2:07
I am really excited to talk about this because it is a topic who it’s really sensitive to parents, obviously, we not only worry about what what trauma or kids might have experienced in childhood, or, you know, in their young adult years, we don’t really understand what trauma is. And then, and I think you’re gonna talk about this the difference between childhood trauma and adult trauma, and then how this all relates to wilderness therapy, because as an alumni parent of wilderness therapy, I can tell you, it’s very scary to think about sending your child away. So thrilled to have you here. And I know you’ve got some slides, but why don’t you give people just a quick introduction to who you are. And what’s brought you to the to the place that you are right now.

Steve 2:58
You bet. Yeah, thanks. So throughout the years, I guess I would probably turn myself as a stress scientist. I’m a faculty member of the Institute of Heart Math. I am a trainer for brainspotting International, in a developer with both those organizations, and my my track of work for the last 20 years has been mentored by two psychologists, in my earliest part of my career, that that really talked about being trauma informed before that became a term, we see that a lot in the therapeutic world being passed around. Now, back when I was in my training and immersion that that term had not really even surfaced yet. And so inside of the work of outpatient therapy world, before we started our wilderness therapy program, I was in the depths of learning how to work therapeutically with those those modalities and working with these cutting edge organizations to do it effectively. And so now we fast forward years later, we wanted to build an experience for for any immersion into an environment that allowed our students to have a wilderness experience that was trauma free. That was really responsive. And I really like to now differentiate the term trauma informed gets thrown around a lot, but really transitioning to trauma responsiveness. And so I’m a licensed clinical social worker and dually certified as a dual diagnosis clinician, so I’m trained in addictions work and and mental health work, and, you know, work a lot on educating communities and people about how to more effectively heal, especially children and adolescents and young adults, processes with trauma and have spent a big amount of my life’s work has been building and continue to work on our programs that capability to offer that environment as we’ve grown and now hopefully program locations in, you know, spanning the country, being able to keep that, that model an understanding is, you know, an ongoing day to day work for me on a regular basis.

Brenda 5:13
Awesome. Well, I know you’ve got some slides that we’re gonna go through. And so I want to make sure that we dive into those. And I’ll have some questions along the way, but I don’t want to jump in. So let’s, let’s have you talk about those. And I might pipe in with some questions along the way.

Steve 5:32
Yeah, yeah, thank you. Um, so, you know, a small deck, we have here to just kind of walk through a couple of principles and ideas that you know, come from science and research, we’re going to talk through them. But you know, moving from trauma informed to trauma responsive means that we are not just aware, a lot of the trauma informed movement has been about training about what the brain does when it’s been traumatized. And, and that’s, that’s fantastic. It’s been a huge evolution in the field of treatment throughout the years, and then the next kind of layer of evolution is being able to understand how do we be responsive to that system. And it’s one thing to be informed that this is what happens, it’s another to know how to intervene effectively with it. And so, as you mentioned, you know, in today’s world, there’s a lot of things going on, let’s be candid, right, like there, we’re actually right now, at this moment, stepping into intervening in a world war situation. Overseas, we’re coming through this pandemic, that has been two years of stress. What we do understand is that, you know, human stress, you know, has a different kind of staying power than human trauma. And so to talk about that a little bit, this slide here is a good one. I caught this slide at a trailhead many years ago, and in earlier days of our program, when a student was pre testing to go into the field, and we test our students for stress. And we, we test their ability to manage their stress. By time, a lot of our students come to wilderness therapy, they’ve had a lot of different therapeutic intervention. In a lot of cases, not all of them. But in a lot of cases, there’s been a therapist has worked with them, and has that individual learn some skills for managing their stress. So we actually trusted testers at the trailhead, we now have a published study based upon our gathering of this data for the last 12 years. It’s published with the APA, and was a pilot study on the effectiveness of a trauma informed wilderness therapy model in healing trauma. And that research was based upon this kind of scientific measurement. This individual as a young lady at a at a at the trailhead, her first day going into the field. And as I was testing her, a spider climbed up the back side of my screen on my computer, and then jumped off the top of the screen and swung down right in the middle of screen while she’s doing a stress test. So yeah, yeah, it was, was quite a capture. And, you know, inside of this scan, actually, this young woman had had some pretty good intervention, she had a lot of stress resiliency. And so when we look at this, this, the slide, you can see clearly where the spider landed in the middle of the screen by following this kind of up and down movement. This is a heart rate variations stress test, and I have a couple more results for their head to talk about on this. But you can see when the spider hit the screen, you know her Her heart rate, elevated to beyond 150 beats per minute, while she’s sitting there immediately, this is what stress response looks like. And inside of the stress response, she was actually able to reregulate herself relatively rapidly, it took her about a minute before, before her heart rate kind of came down. So for those you that are looking at these results, you can see this big spike in the middle and it kind of returns back to a baseline. That’s a sign of somebody’s stress, resilience, the ability to have a stressful event and then to return back to a normal physiology you’re going to kind of state or the ability to use a technique to get there actually shows something that we call self regulation. This was a spider right? This was any initial interaction with a spider is a very humbling moment for me. When we look at when we put our students out into the wilderness setting how stressful day to day, simple things can be, you know, we’re not even talking about relational interaction yet. We’re talking about one environmental interaction here. And, and it was very humbling because it’s like suddenly, well, there’s a lot of other experiences day to day that could bring upon this kind of stress response, and how are we responding to it? I’m informed that this is a stress response for but now, how do we build a model and think systematically about how we interact with this fear state when it shows us so this young lady had the capability to reset herself quite effectively. But most and a lot of our students don’t when they’re when they’re at that Trailhead. So, understanding that stress is immediate, that even the experience of coming to wilderness has its stressors. We’ve been talking about transport on podcast lady lately and stuff like that. One thing to understand about stress is its cumulative. It’s cumulative, it builds upon it. So this young lady has this frightening experience with a spider, she’s able to regulate herself. What happens five minutes later, an hour later days later, builds into this corner being held in the nervous system and shifting physiology. Stress is different than trauma, we’re going to talk about that more here in a moment, we can progress. Now, this is a progressive slide. So because it’s in a PDF format, can’t can’t see each of the images as I have them built in my deck to reveal themselves. But when we look at survival responses, and we’re looking at high acuity level of stress, they fall into a number of categories that are commonly understood. And I have a couple in here that are less understood or less talked about that I think are highly important that our field needs to involve evolve into, but we have the fight response, people talk about the three F’s fight, flight, and freeze. These are all meant and how each one of them have their own purpose for enhancing our survival capability in any given moment. When this has happened a lot and our nervous system, there’s a saying out there neurons that fire together wire together. The more fight experiences I have, the more propensity my nervous system has to go to fight response when I’m in another stressful situation. So as we build into from stress responses of a big Oh yikes a spider into trauma, we start to see a theme of how people’s nervous systems are built to respond. So if I’m a fighter, I’m like this gazelle, you can’t quite see it. There’s a lot of cheetahs on the gazelle I explode and it throws them off at me, I’m a fighter, I’m going to leave the stress be I’m going to take off I’m going to run away from we run in this often we’re therapist actually train their clients to avoid stress by taking space for example. And that is a natural and helpful part of the process initially, but do we teach the capacity to face stress is a really important thing. So we’re not building ongoing flight response into somebody underneath the image of fawning is freeze and there’s a gazelle trap between two to two cheetahs, one behind it and one in front of it. And it’s it literally has a way out to the left and to the right, but it’s locked up. And the nervous system locking up like that was kind of meant to get the predators to not pay attention to us to kind of forget about us or maybe not see our movement, and then take off when the opportunity presents itself. So the whole system freezes. Inside of the next one is a collapse response and collapse responses, the body really giving up. And this isn’t like I give up. It’s the nervous system, the body just collapses. And in this image is a gazelle that’s very still alive, but the whole body is limp. We call that immobilization fawning response, when I’m scared, I go closer to somebody that I feel a genuine connection to. And when we get into an unhealthy response of appeasement, I see closeness to somebody that I’m very afraid of. So in this picture, there’s an alpha wolf and and in and the sub alpha is showing compliance. And this is a very important fact. And inside of, we look at high levels of care when there’s a high need of compliance versus actual connection, like fawning and differentiating these two. And so compliance doesn’t last, that wolf walks away, and it doesn’t have a genuine connection to the alpha wolf. It just manipulated his way around that. And one of my colleagues out there says, you know, I’ll show you somebody who can master like the the ability to master appeasement with stress sources. I’ll walk I’ll show you somebody who walks through 15 treatments and never touches their pain. Because navigate around it. They say to their therapist, you’re the best therapist ever. And the therapist is like, Oh, great, and their ego just kind of falls into it. So these stress responses are, are in companies in all of us. And we’re programmed to go towards more one or the other. So for example, a caretaker a parent to really wants to care take their child, when they’re stressed might do the fawning response where it’s like I this is somebody I feel close to, so I’m going to really take care of them. And that’s more you know, the mother doe taking care of the baby. But these are these responses are shown And everywhere in our human stress response. And then when they’ve happened a lot, it becomes ingrained. So now it becomes our primary mode of operating the world around us. Now it has residual lasting power. That’s when we start to talk about trauma, trauma, the key differentiator from that and just acute stress response is lasting adaptation that shows itself in that person’s life in the long term, post the event or the stressor. And it shows up in a lot of places, not just one. So go ahead and we could progress. Wow,

Brenda 15:30
so interesting. And you’re right, you don’t hear about the fawning and the appeasing, you really just hear about those three F’s. So thank you for taking us through that. Because that that made a lot of sense when you said that.

Steve 15:42
And they’re, they’re highly impactful when we get to this level of of care when people have the survival mechanisms online to get back to doing what I want to do, etc. Like, our you know, students embody this stuff. Um, if we could go back one slide, I think. Okay, I’m sorry, go ahead, progress. So a key element that that happened years ago here is that we started examining what happened in children versus adults. Those of us that have been around trauma science for as long as I have, we can see and even in our practice, see a difference in trauma stress response from children or adolescents or young adults from full fledged adulthood. This study was fascinating from the National Childhood Network of 5616 youth, where they looked at symptomology of people that had been through trauma exposure. And inside of this study, they started to pull apart parts and results that were fascinating, that started to differentiate from the trauma label that psychotherapist and psychologist had used for a long time for called PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder. And, and a lot of our therapeutic world built on trauma, even right now is built upon that diagnosis and being able to respond and treat that diagnosis. But there’s, this study showed very distinct differences in between adolescence, and that PTSD diagnosis, so go ahead and progress to the next one. So, when we look at PTSD, by the way that took many years of research to get accepted, PTSD has its criteria, this traumatic event being a key one of them, there’s a very specific event, then we have these other kind of intrusions into the person’s living life. The the issue of PTSD is that it’s one event, what happens when you’re a child whose brain is developing. And the neurology is all wiring, when we get repeated exposures to events. So now it’s not one events, but it’s 10. It’s 15. It’s 20 events, what happens, and what happens with the nervous system of somebody who does that? Or experiences that. And inside of that unseen wounds study, they started finding some fascinating results, which was starts to mirror a lot of other childhood diagnosis as we see. And so things like ADHD, inability to focus, attentional dysregulation became a very loud part of what they saw inside of the study. Inside of this, you’ll see under the developmental trauma diagnosis, and I don’t have a ton of time to work through each one of these, but dysregulation is the common word in all A, B, C, and D categories, exposure to traumatic experiences, generally more than one throughout this developmental timeframe. And then the after effect being the nervous system doesn’t operate the same anymore dysregulation. The nervous system is unpredictable now. So we have six different forms of this progress.

The PTSD flashback in an adolescent. This is a one I caught at a trailhead again, a child had a flashback of a conflict with the parent. And in that conflict, the parent grabbed the child in, in the situation where everybody was escalated, grab a child by the neck. He has a full blown flashback at midpoint here. his nervous system is trying to calm him back down, you’ll see this big spike it actually he capped out at 180 beats per minute, while sitting from an average of 80 beats per minute, and then his nervous system is trying to calm him back down. That’s actually a sign that his nervous system has a back down to come down to and so on Eventually, he reestablishes regulation further in that in that scoring, and this is a picture again, that shows their nervous systems reactivity, but some resiliency to get back to where it needs to be this is PTSD, actually in an adolescent. But then we start to measure individuals had a fair number three, the experiences, we see the wiring change, so go out and progress. So when the wiring changes, and I’ll show you a HRV result for some of those developmental trauma, these are the six categories that that were found to be inside of that, that that developmental trauma kind of development. And relational dysregulation is a process of the nervous system being unpredictable and relationships, attention dysregulation, my ability to focus on something ebbs and flows and is unpredictable, behavioral dysregulation, that my behavior doesn’t match me even what I maybe even want to do, or even say, I’m going to do differently. And I mean it when I say it, but then I can’t do it, I can’t see it through and that’s my nervous system, not being able to fall into compliance with that. Affective dysregulation, the emotions that are unpredictable, when you say that it kind of starts to talk about almost every teenager, right? You know, there’s the ability to kind of, you know, manage their emotions, but we see it be far more unpredictable, and youth that have experienced a lot of trauma, somatic dysregulation, a sense of my body, in my experience with my body of being reactive, etc. And then this my sense of self, we talk about identity formulation, and routines and stuff all the time. But the identity formulation, often towards self as problematic. It’s based upon shame and things like that when we have developmental trauma. Again, I have subcategories under all six of those that require much deeper conversation than we can get to today. I can

Brenda 21:55
imagine it looks very complex.

Steve 21:59
Yeah, yeah. And so inside of that, this is what a heart rate variation stress test looks like for a child who’s got developmental trauma. The nervous system is all over the place. This is what that word dysregulation means right? They say a picture’s worth 1000 words, this is what a child who has experienced a handful of experiences or more and developmental processing, this is what their nervous system lives like. And a concept that comes from our brain spotting training world is the concept of a 24 hour flashback that the body lives in the past is a way of conceptualizing dysregulation. And one thing that happens a lot is is this dysregulation gets misunderstood and labeled as an attentional issues. So we treat it as ADHD, and we give it a stimulant medication, and it doesn’t get better, and people are scratching their heads. So there are so many ramifications for people not understanding the science behind what happens for youth in development.

Brenda 23:02
Yeah, so that’s very different. I’m glad that you showed those different charts, because that looks so different than the girl who saw the spider. So that’s just incredible to see the difference. And you’re really diving into that with each student in your programs to understand what’s going on that you can’t see on the surface.

Steve 23:24
That’s right. So so we work diligently to capture, teach, and treat all six of those forms of dysregulation. If we don’t have a plan for that we’re not a trauma responsive model to childhood trauma treatment. Right. And so inside of that teaching each one and pursuing and working strategically and even surgically on each of those categories becomes a trauma responsive program, but we’re gonna I’m gonna present some other structures to be thinking about, because I know there’s a lot of parents that attendance, etc. Of what are the key elements to how trauma happens? Right. So we talked about the physiology differences of that now, how do we talk about either creating more trauma or less trauma? And this often comes up for people and families when they’re looking at out of home placement, that like, is this going to traumatize them. And so there’s a couple of things I want to spell out here. But what I will tell you is that when you have those forms of dysregulation going on, the nervous system is already living in a heightened state of reaction. And so being able to get that contained in a way where we can get it settled down enough to get treatment into it is part of, for example, what wilderness therapy does incredibly well. There is a distance for a period of time between the parental relationship and the and the child. And inside of that we work to stabilize that nervous system to get it ready to do this deeper kind of individual work. So now when we come back and release really relate with each other, that we’re not coming from a relational dysregulation place where you learn. And I can’t tell you how many attachment even trained therapists don’t understand the time and place where that has to happen. Because we’re trying to do relationship treatment, well, there’s just so much relational dysregulation going on between parent and child, that we’re not getting anywhere, we’re not getting any traction. And we have to get both sides of that story regulated enough to relate if we don’t want them to relate through their, through their relational default, unhealthy structures. And so, inside of this, all of this is part of addressing that for that individual. And then teaching that to the family and building skill set around being as a family in a more relational regulated place.

Brenda 25:51
Got it? Yeah, I can see the the importance of doing some work to get to a point where that young person could start to relate better to their parents versus starting from a place of complete dysfunction or dysregulation, you’re just going to be spinning in cycles, I would imagine that’s not a very scientific or therapeutic term. But from a parent’s standpoint, I think that’s what we see our kids just spinning and spinning and spinning and you think you’ve found a solution, and it doesn’t work. And then you think you’ve found another solution, and it doesn’t work. And it’s because you’re not coming from a place where they can do the work.

Steve 26:30
What it’s like doing, it’s like building a house on a broken apart foundation at that point, right? Structure is going to be shaky at best, because the foundation inside of all of our human experiences, relationally comes from our nervous system, and our story and our history. And so if we don’t work to get a level playing field there in the nervous system and build a then you can build a good foundation and a house up from that. But when we have so much disturbance, unhealthy behavior, drugs, whatever is going on, and that’s unhealthy there, that stirring up everything we have no place to start from that’s going to hold a strong structure of a house on top of it, we have to work to be able to get a good level solid, concrete built foundation to now build a new relationship upon.

Brenda 27:21
That’s a really great visual, thank you for saying that. Because I think that that made a lot of sense to get that stable foundation to work from so

Steve 27:29
And so as we as we do this, you know, when people are traumatized, we have to be sensitive to that and be mindful of that we also have to distinguish that is a stress response, or is it traumatizing, had to have that debate with a handful of people, you know, throughout time, if somebody’s having ongoing persistent symptoms, beyond six months from the experience, now we can start to look in question and even assess if it’s actual trauma, this is one of the consequences of everybody throwing the word trauma around too flippantly is that we have to be able to look and pull it apart and see where where it’s, it’s still alive six months or later, after a stressful event. We do know there’s two kind of key elements to traumatic experience that everybody needs to understand about trauma and trauma science. And that is first first, trauma generally comes in an experience where somebody experiences a felt sense of powerlessness, I can’t control the situation. Inside of that, in fact, our whole trauma treatment field has been so focused on that the powerlessness of the situation and treating that and, and focusing on the event that created that, well what happens when you’ve built into a nervous system, all of these experiences over and over again, the nervous system lives there in this feeling of powerlessness. How does that show up? It shows up by interacting with everything and outside world as a survivor mentality, which is like you’re here to harm me and and now I’m stuck in a survival mode or even like a victim mode of like, You’re doing this to me versus for me. When we look at treatment placement and and the necessity by time we get to some of these placements, like there’s a lot going on. It’s life threatening intervention that we’re doing. One element that I mean, Gabor Mate, if you’re not familiar with him is a very famous author on trauma and addiction. Meaning we’re personal friends, and and he visited the field and we had this whole conversation with a young woman about her trauma treatment. And what we had surfaced in that conversation or why he surfaced was that she had done amazing work on the powerlessness of the situation. And then he asked one question, how did your parents respond and her head dropped like this? So she could talk all about the events she went through and she did it, but her parents are response to it had not been fully healed. This led to actually this moment led to me and Gabor having amazing conversations, we did panels across the country together. And one of the elements we started to push on in these panels across the country together was, guess we got to treat the powerlessness of the situation. But more importantly, and this goes back to that research from the unseen wounds, is examining the aloneness of the experience. Things do not become traumatizing. Even in a powerless situation, the loudest part of the powerless situation is I’m in it alone, nobody’s here to help me. And inside of this examining aloneness, is a key element of preventing and intervening with trauma. So how do we go about these treatment processes and eliminate aloneness experience? Again, me and him have these panels, we’ve done them across the country. And there’s a lot of discussion about this. But how do we start to directly impact aloneness in the transport experience? How do I love Heather Hayes work out of Georgia, she’s a transport company that focuses on trauma informed transport and including parents as a part of that journey. All the way to through the field experience. So next slide, please. So how do we go from an ultimate defensive system, which those six forms of dysregulation are to an ultimate support system, when we look at the experience of wilderness specifically, and I would challenge that this also applies to any residential treatment program also. Right as these key variables and relationships that we have to have very strong intention and responsiveness in. So for example, you talked about parents experience, right? Coming into treatment, making this decision feeling guilty about making a decision. How do we interact interface with understanding that a traumatized child is surrounded by a traumatized parental system also, those nights staying up all night wondering if your kid is alive or, or is going to show up or not. What they’re doing, that becomes very stuck in a parent’s nervous system, we’re programmed to really be responsive in that there’s not a lot we could do oftentimes in today’s world, until we go to more intense intervention. So how do we intake a student or the parents even for that. So trauma informed transport, from admissions processes all the way to the field experience. What are we doing to work on that aloneness? What systems are we using using that are really kind of making us think you know, that we’re showing responsiveness to their situation and their stress, and then assessment, for example, this huge movement, which I am happy to see happening, the ACES studies, adverse childhood experiences, studies are fantastic. Well, now we have this assessment tool. So now people are literally handing this to people at the door for assessment. And if you go through that assessment tool, it’s asking you to recall if you’ve had 10 of the worst experiences a human being could have, that is not trauma responsive, and trauma even formed informed assessment, because they’re actually recalling each of those 10 events as they’re going through them. And this happens rapidly in trauma treatment field right now, by the way. So now we’re starting somebody off on recalling your top 10 Worst traumas they ever had. And we’re bringing them into treatment. Right? Right, right in one day, oftentimes sitting by themselves filling out this assessment tool. But there’s a lot of mistakes that happen on this level. Inside of the the structure of the treatment process, do we have good strong line staff responsiveness and wilderness? We call them guides. Do we have a responsiveness to the hyper vigilance that’s inside of these kids nervous systems? Do we have relational repair structures? All trauma happens in the context of relationships. So do we have a repair structure for those relationships to work through and learn how to work through relationships versus saying, You hurt me, and I’m never going to talk to you again. How do we teach and work on repair? Do we have plans and training are what we do with the group therapy scenario? When we have maybe even eight traumatized nervous systems all together, and they’re bleeding off and affecting each other? Do we have a plan and training and how do we work with that strategically? Basic stress reduction systems. For example, in our program, every kid gets their own individual tent. They have a space to go to that’s theirs at night, that has a buffer between them and everybody around them that they’ve been working through relationally all day. Let my brain have a break for at least The night, if I’m afraid of the dark, do we have a process of here a glow stick is it gonna help you get out of the woods in the middle of the night, by the way, a glow stick just gives a little light inside the tent. So I don’t have to be terrified of the dark. We have very strategic ways we work with canines with the students for stress and working through stress too. And when these are on all of our expeditions, and then we have trauma responsive treatment, and again, focusing on those big six is a huge part of actually being a trauma response, a treatment program. And so these are just some examples of how we can hit head more in that direction to be more trauma responsive in our programs, and then being strategic about going in alignment with what the research has shown us happens for kids that have experienced trauma.

Brenda 35:47
So much, there’s so much there, I’m sure you could talk for three hours just on this one slide. So that’s, that’s incredible. That’s, yeah, wow, well, this, I know, this is just like a dip a toe in the water of all the work that you do, and all the work that impacts the students that are with you. And I think it’s really helpful for parents to hear this to start being aware of, not only might there be trauma in your child’s past that you you might not be aware of, and I think that’s kind of the big, always the big fear for parents. Or you may know about it, and I really was impacted when you said that. It’s not necessarily the event. But did you have somebody to relate to around that event? And what was that human connection? Like? So that’s, that’s a really interesting thing to think about.

Steve 36:44
That, you know, in today’s world, parents responsiveness is difficult, right? The students, you know, we’re, you know, all of our children are sitting at school for extended periods of time. And there’s less and less parental contact around the dinner table, the breakfast table. So a lot of structures that were there that were family centered, aren’t there to even have some of those conversations, right? People are in survival, times with their business, or whatever it is, and it’s not, you know, the parents intention to not be responsive. And if they knew they needed to be, they probably would be right away. It’s just the way our societal structure kind of feeds into a lot of these events of aloneness.

Brenda 37:21
Yeah, incredible. Thank you so much for that, thank you for your work, we will definitely be putting links to the wilderness programs, so that people can parents can find those and look into those because I think what you’re saying, as a as a parent who, you know, had my child, transported, you know, in the middle of the night, sort of the the classic experience, I think, hearing what you’re saying really would bring me a level of comfort if I was in a position where I was considering wilderness, because I know, for myself, and for a lot of other people, I delayed wilderness by months, because of just thinking about that experience. So I love what you’re talking about, you know, trauma informed and responsive transport. And then when they get there these things, so huge, huge. And I’m assuming you’ve got lots of information about this on your website. So we will people there,

Steve 38:22
if people are having that exact struggle, I did a really good podcast, we talked about, you know, transport that was done with well, White’s stories from the field, which is yes, was focused about the, you know, the development of wilderness programs from the owners perspectives, etc. But, but I had a recent one where it was really about trauma and wilderness. And in there, I talk a lot about transport and, and that decision, and we did for years in our program, not take transported youth. But what tended to happen then was conflict between the parents and the child was so extreme that it was actually adding more into the trauma and reaction to stress responses on both sides. Actually off the harming the relationship even worse, because people were taking drastic measures to try to, in the end, try to save their child’s life. And so, you know, yeah, take a look at that, if you know, it’s your link to that for families that are really facing and struggling with that part of the decision.

Brenda 39:20
Absolutely. Thanks, Steve, for being here. Thanks for being an awesome partner of Sky’s the Limit Fund. We appreciate you and it’s so great for us to know that we are sending kids to you kids and young adults for this incredible treatment. So thank you for being here. And thank you for the work that you do.

Steve 39:39
Thank you so much for having me read it really appreciate it was enjoyable.

Brenda 39:42
Thanks. And thanks for joining us today.



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