Parenting an Angry Teen: A Proven Guide

How to Parent an Angry Teen: Proven Tips to Help Parents

The teenage years are a challenging time for any parent. Teenagers can be notoriously moody, reckless, and unpredictable. However, for parents of teens with defiance anger issues, these years can be especially difficult. Many parents of angry teens worry about their son or daughter’s whereabouts or may fear when they will have their next episode or bout of rage. While many troubled teens with anger issues require professional treatment, there are several steps parents can take to help manage their teen’s anger. With proper support and treatment from both inside and outside the home, teens can learn new ways to manage their feelings and find success and happiness in life.

This article is intended to be a resource for parents, guardians, and teachers of teenage girls and boys struggling with anger, disrespect, and defiance. We will provide an overview of anger and defiance in teens, signs that your angry child’s bad behavior is out of control, how parents can help manage their teen’s anger, and discuss wilderness therapy as treatment.

Anger in Teens: A Phase or a Problem?

The behavior of teens with anger and defiance issues exhibit extend far beyond the typical disrespectful behaviour, eye-rolling, slammed doors, and arguments between teen and their parent. Anger is a normal part of adolescence and can be a healthy emotional response to outside stressors.

Anger is a secondary emotion for teens as it often masks other underlying issues including sadness, hurt, fear, and shame. When these underlying emotions become too much, a teen will often respond by lashing out. Because adolescence can be stressful, most teens will lash out from time to time. However, for teens with anger issues, emotional outbreaks are a regular occurrence.

Teens with serious anger issues are consumed with anger. These individuals can be defiant and may turn to violence, self-harm, risky behavior, and illegal activity as a way to cope with their strong emotions. They may lash out with anger in response to outside stressors or an untreated or undiagnosed mental disorder. In the sections below, we will define common causes a teen defiance and the behaviors and patterns that fall outside of normal.

Angry Teenager Causes and Contributing Factors

There are many factors that can contribute to anger issues and defiance in teens. Every teen’s emotional regulation skill set, capacity, and maturity is different. Some teens simply need more help in learning how to healthily manage their emotions and cope with stress. Other teens experience intense anger as a symptom of a mental health issue, traumatizing life experience, or simply from the stress and pressures of adolescence. Some of these common triggers of severe anger in teens include:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Victim of bullying or persistent & unhealthy peer pressure
  • Conflict within the family
  • Traumatic event
  • Death of a loved one
  • Adoption issues
  • Substance abuse
  • Divorce
  • Abuse
  • Grief

In addition to the above list, an unresolved issue such as teen depression, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) can contribute to anger issues in teens. These disorders often impact social skills, self-control, and impulse control which results in a child being more prone to having angry outbursts.

10 Warning Signs Your Teen’s Anger Is Out of Control

If a parent is concerned about the level of anger and defiance a teen is exhibiting, the first step is understanding what is normal teen behavior and which behaviors may indicate a more serious issue. If your teen is exhibiting one or more of the following behaviors, they likely have anger issues that require external help.

  • Physical aggression or violence
  • Excessive arguing with parents, siblings, teachers, and/or peers
  • Regular emotional outbursts that may include yelling, screaming, or lashing out
  • Irrational thinking and behavior
  • Bullying
  • Verbal threats
  • Cruel behaviors to people or animals
  • Criminal activity
  • Destroying property
  • Self-harm

Any of the above behaviors are a red flag that your teen’s anger issues require professional treatment, in addition to parental support. If your teen’s anger extends beyond normal response to outside stressors and exhibits one or more of the above behaviors, the next step is to lay a parenting plan in place and consult with his or her physician.

8 Ways Parents Can Help Their Angry Teen

While parenting a defiant or angry teenager is extremely draining for parents, there are several key steps parents can take to help ease the contention and strain within home. Teenagers lack the emotional maturity and stability and therefore significantly rely on their parents to give them the help and direction they need.

It is essential that parents do the best they can to love and support their child while still keeping in mind that they cannot control their teen’s emotions or actions. The best thing empowering parents can do is provide their teen with proper support within the home and seek appropriate external treatment to help the teen learn how to manage his or her feelings.

1. Create Boundaries and Expectations for Your Teen

Defiant and angry teens need clear rules that are tied to a clear consequence when he or she breaks the rule. Establish these rules and expectations during a calm time. Have a conversation with your teen so they know what to expect when the said rules are broken. Explain to your teen that these rules are to help keep him or her safe and free from harm. Express your love for your child. Even angry teens want to know that their parents love and care about them.

2. Talk to Your Teen

Parents of angry teens may find it difficult to talk and communicate with their child through the outburst and contention. During times of peace or once a teen has calmed down from their outburst, parents should try and talk to their teen about what is really bothering them. If the teen is willing to speak or share, do not judge or try and correct your teen. Simply listen to him or her without becoming angry.

3. Encourage a Healthy Lifestyle

Encourage a healthy lifestyle of physical exercise, healthy eating, and proper sleep. Creating a healthy lifestyle routine for your teen helps fosters good behavior in children and teens. This includes setting regular mealtimes and bedtimes, a set time to check-in with your teen, and regular exercise.

Most of all, make sure your teen gets enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can increase stress, mood swings, irritability, and can also cause problems with weight, memory, concentration, and decision-making. All teens should get between 8-10 hours of sleep. To achieve this, many parents find it helpful having teens turn in their electronics two hours before bedtime to eliminate distractions.

4. Limit Technology Use

Parents should not just limit technology at bedtime. The overuse of technology, social media, or screen time is unhealthy for any teen. Too much screen time can not only adversely affect your child’s sleep, it can also lead to irritability. Parents must monitor their teen’s technology use to ensure they are not consuming violent tv shows, video games, movies, and music as they increase the likelihood of outbursts and violent behavior.

5. Encourage Your Teen to Find a Hobby

Hobbies can help teens manage their negative emotions. Adults should encourage their son or daughter to participate in a hobby that will serve as an outlet for anger. This includes anything from sports, weight lifting, journaling, music, yoga, mindfulness & meditation, cooking, art, and horseback riding.

6. Set a Good Example for Your Teen

One of the best ways parents can teach their teen healthy coping patterns and emotional regulation is by example. When your teen starts to feel angry, make sure you display healthy and appropriate responses and that you stay as calm and as rational as possible, even when your teen is extremely difficult and defiant.

7. Have Reasonable Expectations for Your Teen

Perfection from teens is not reasonable. A teenager’s brain is continually developing and changing until about the mid-’20s. Therefore, a teen’s brain will process information much differently, including the way a teen manages their emotions and make decisions. Hormones can further complicate things. While these factors should not serve as an excuse for bad behavior, it is important parents keep these biological differences in mind.

In many ways, teens are still learning, and consequences provide learning experiences to help their brain and judgment develop. Parents of angry teens should maintain age-appropriate expectations for their teen and nothing more. For help in knowing what is reasonable to expect, see neuropsychiatrist Dr. Daniel Siegel’s book, Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain.

8. Spend Quality Time with Your Teen

Every child wants to be unconditionally loved and accepted by their parents, even when they do not show it. Take the time to spend quality time with your teen doing an activity they enjoy. During this time, just focus on loving, validating, and being positive about your teen and their strengths. Reassure them how much you love them both in word and in deed. Even if a teen is angry or negative towards you, deep down they are likely feeling unlovable and insecure. Give your teen your undivided attention to reassure them that you love and care.

Don’t get frustrated if your teen resists your efforts. Just continue trying. Remember, the objective is to simply build a relationship with your teen and support them in the ways they need it most.

Wilderness Therapy as Treatment for Anger in Teens

While the support parents provide to their child at home is incredibly important, severe cases of teen anger require more intensive treatment. The best thing parents can do for their son or daughter is to provide them with the professional help they need. It is important that teens learn healthy coping mechanisms now, so their anger does not consume them or hinder them in their adult life. To achieve this, many parents turn to wilderness therapy.

Researcher Keith C. Russell defines wilderness therapy as “Utilizing outdoor adventure pursuits and other activities, such as primitive skills and reflection, to enhance personal and interpersonal growth.” A credible wilderness therapy program will teach a defiant teen how to manage their anger from a loving and experienced clinical team in a therapeutic wilderness setting. These two factors, among others, enable wilderness therapy to help teens with anger issues in a way that talk therapy cannot.

"My life is amazing. Aspiro has changed everything. I now know how to climb every mountain. Thank you Aspiro for making me realize so much about my life and how to deal with anger."

– Brian, a former student at Aspiro

A Therapeutic Wilderness Setting for Teens with Anger Issues

Wilderness therapy for teens utilizes the natural benefits of the outdoors to help angry teens heal and grow. Studies show that simply being outdoors has mental health benefits. In addition, the new and novel environment of wilderness therapy is ideal for establishing new patterns and ways of coping in defiant teens.

Wilderness Adventure Therapy Promotes Healthy Habits for Teens with Anger Issues

A credible wilderness adventure therapy program provides regular opportunities for teens to learn how to cope with anger, develop problem-solving skills, and establish healthier patterns and behaviors. A credible wilderness therapy program will create a schedule so that participants participate in regular exercise, receive good nutrition, and healthy sleep. These provide angry teens with a healthy mind and body that will be more receptive to learning new patterns.

Wilderness Therapy Strengthens Social Skills in Teens with Anger Issues

The therapeutic group experience of wilderness therapy helps teens with anger issues refine their social skills. Angry teens often feel misunderstood, but wilderness therapy allows them to connect with other teens who are facing similar issues. These daily interactions in a variety of situations can greatly improve a defiant teen’s interpersonal skills.

Wilderness Therapy Provides Angry Teens with Personalized and Specialized Help

A credible wilderness therapy program will support the teen with a caring and professional team of therapists and field staff to support the teen’s journey. Wilderness therapy participants are able to learn healthy ways to cope with anger from an experienced therapist who specializes in working with troubled teens. The clinical team of a credible wilderness adventure therapy program are trained to get the bottom of a teen’s anger issues and provide them with the exact tools they need to work through it.

Wilderness Therapy Teaches Defiant Teens Cause and Effect

Wilderness adventure therapy utilizes “in the moment” or experiential therapy, so students can see, feel, and touch what they are learning. Assessing the hidden emotions behind the anger are easier to reach. Experiential therapy is especially effective for teens with anger issues to take responsibility for their actions and learn about consequences.

Instead of lecturing teens about their anger and poor decisions, wilderness therapy utilizes natural consequences to demonstrate cause and effect in a very real and immediate way. For example, if a teen chooses not to build their tent or if they do not build it properly, they will get wet when it rains and get sleep horribly. Such experiences teach a teen that they their choices have consequences that only they are responsible for.

Wilderness Therapy Gives Teens with Anger Issues Self-Confidence

Wilderness therapy puts teens with anger issues in situations that allows them to feel confidence and success in a variety of different environments. Participating in adventure activities from mountain biking, rappelling, and hiking, teens are able to achieve things they never thought they could do. In turn, they become more confident and positive individuals who know they can overcome hard things. This self-confidence is key for teens who experience anger as confidence is linked to positive thinking skills as well as a lower vulnerability to stress and depression.

If you decide wilderness therapy is the best option for your teen with anger issues, it is important that you do your research to ensure you are selecting a credible wilderness therapy program for your teen.

How Parents Can Support Their Angry Teen Through Wilderness Therapy

Even when a teen is away at wilderness therapy, they still need love and support from their parents. Continue to strengthen and improve the relationship you have with your son or daughter by sending letters and calling them. Let them know you are there for them and that you are always available to listen.

After addressing necessary issues, focus on the future without shaming them for past choices. Allow your child to share their experiences and growth without judging. Parents should also keep the lines of communication open with their teen’s therapists, so they stay informed and current about their teen’s progress and what they are currently working through. Staying informed and involved with your teen’s treatment program is vital to his or her success.

While your teen is away, continue learning about your teen’s issues and diagnosis. Consider your teen’s situation and learn more about how to help. Doing so will not only help you better understand your teen but can also help you know how you can best help your teen after treatment.

Conclusion

While some parent-teen conflict is normal during the teenage years, there comes a point where anger turns from an emotional response to a level of constant contention that must be addressed promptly. This process can be extremely draining, difficult, and heartbreaking for parents.

No matter how hopeless a parent may feel, and no matter how much turmoil you and your teen are facing, with proper care and support, things can and will get better. A credible wilderness therapy program can provide your child with healthier coping patterns, confidence, and the tools they need to manage their anger and find joy and success in life.

About Aspiro Adventure Therapy Program

Aspiro Adventure Wilderness Adventure Therapy program was uniquely crafted to assist students and their families in creating lasting, life-long emotional changes through compassionate, intentional, research backed, and safe outdoor adventure therapy programs. The professionals at Aspiro Adventure understand individuals don’t come with instructions, and every student is unique, capable, and amazing in their own right.

Aspiro Adventure focuses on helping adolescents, young adults, and their families through difficulties that occur when various behavioral, cognitive, or developmental issues are present. Research shows that engaging individuals on a personal level with strategic and intentional activities will aid in developing the tools and skills necessary to engage life in a healthy and positive way.

By Josh Watson, LCSW, CMO at Aspiro Adventure Therapy Program
  • Josh Watson, LCSW
    Josh Watson, LCSW
    CMO

How to Develop Grit: Perseverance And Passion For Long-term Goals

how-to-develop-grit Perseverance And Passion For Long-term Goals

We all want our kids to grow up and be healthy, thriving, independent young adults. One of the primary indicators of whether our kids will thrive after leaving home is something called grit: perseverance and passion for long-term goals.

Below, we’ll discuss:

  1. What is grit?
  2. What are the benefits of grit?
  3. How to develop grit?

What is Grit Exactly?

So, what is grit anyway? I think it’s something that we’ve heard a lot about maybe the last 10 or 15 years or so. Ivy League professor and best-selling author, Angela Duckworth, defined grit “as the combination of perseverance and passion toward long-term goals.” Grit is when you’re able to harness the power of passion and turn it into resolve, persistence, stamina, and tenacity, working toward goals that endure over time. In short, grit is: consistent. hard. work.

Examples of grit are someone:

  • developing a hobby or interest
  • learning to play a musical instrument like the piano
  • learning to dance or play a sport.
  • working toward graduating high school or college.

Grit shouldn’t be mistaken as short bursts of intense energy. It isn’t grit if a student was able to finish a school project over the weekend. They may have worked for hours and hours, the project was amazing, and they earned a great grade. That’s great work, but different than grit. Grit strives to delay gratification until your child’s goals are achieved. It is a mindset, a focus on consistent effort over long periods of time perfecting your craft. Grit is a willingness to embrace the daily grind in order to achieve long-term goals.

Grit is a little different than IQ which tends to be a little bit more fixed. Grit is something that actually can be developed, harnessed, taught, and most certainly improved throughout the course of someone’s life.


Benefits of Developing Grit

There are two benefits that come to mind when I think about developing grit. The first thing that stands out for me, is that grit prepares and conditions us for long-term success. That can be carried over into graduating college, career development, family relationships.

A second natural benefit is that grit absolutely can overcome talent deficiencies. However, it is on rare occasions that I’ve seen that talent can overcome grit deficiencies.

Here are a couple of examples of how grit may apply. Let’s say someone struggles with some academic learning, you may have a child that really struggles in that way. So what grit can teach is the ability to figure out things like: taking notes is really hard, how do I figure out how to study 50 pages for an exam? How do I take out the themes or highlight the points? And then I can continue to improve and get better at those particular tasks and develop a growth mindset that will take me through high school or college graduation and prepare me for a career.

What if you have a child who struggles with some social or emotional learning? Or somebody who might be really bright but struggles socially with school? Maybe they’re very anxious, struggle with performance anxiety, or social anxiety really hinders school. How can grit help them?

I think that for most of us, when something is uncomfortable, or when we are not good at something, we I would shy away from them. Grit helps to bring about an opportunity to practice over a consistent period of time dealing with the very things that might be difficult. Again, contrary to the notion that we should shy away from things we’re not good at, grit would have us develop the skill necessary to become competent in those areas.

What if your child has a lot of talent and gets good grades? You may still be a little concerned about how much grit they have. What if they haven’t been challenged enough academically, socially or emotionally? And what happens when they get to college and school isn’t easy anymore? I think that’s the fear for all of us.

Grit becomes really critical to help insulate our kids in these challenging situations.


How to Develop Grit

Far too soon, our kids will be out in the world, deciding what activities to spend their time all on their own.  If our children are able to master this self-directed focus while living at home, in an environment that is safe for them to fail and learn, then they will thrive when they go out on their own.   Something we need to remember that as parents we can’t actually control our children. We can’t make someone develop grit.  We can persuade and influence and we can punish and reward. But in the end, if our kids don’t want to do something, we can’t physically make them do it.

For example, if you have a piano player in the house who does not enjoy practicing. You as a parent may decide, “I am going to help them develop grit because I will make them go to the piano practice.”  Probably the only person in that scenario that may be developing grit would be you, the parent. You are the one who has to deal with the arguments, the frustrations, even the tantrums about practicing the piano.

However, there are several things you can do to create an environment that fosters grit development.


1. Start with Passion

If you are just starting to help your child develop grit, try focusing on an area they are passionate about.  If you want them to strengthen their intrinsic motivation, it helps to start with something they already want to do. If they love music, get them playing an instrument.  Or if they love sports, sign them up for a team. But guide them toward something that will take consistent & prolonged effort.

The goal is not to make them hate life, it is to help them understand that it is okay to sacrifice comfort to get something they passionately want.


2. Use Commitments & Contracts

For most of us, the first time an activity is hard or difficult, or we make a mistake, or we feel embarrassed, the tendency is to think, “You know what, I don’t want to do this anymore.” It is in these moments when your son or daughter may say, “Hey, I went. I hated it and I’m never going back again.” They’ll want to quit an activity, not because they stopped wanting the outcome, but because the effort is hard.

Rather than allowing them to quit in midstream, try anticipating this situation talking about ahead of time. Make an agreement with your child before signing up for a particular sports team, hobby, or interest.  Let them know that there are two price tags for these types of activities: a financial price tag and a time/effort price tag. Let them know that you may be willing to pay the financial cost, but only if they are willing to pay the cost of time and effort.  Then talk about how it needs to be a sustained effort for whatever time period you are comfortable with. Maybe it’s three or four weeks, or maybe it’s three months depending on the activity. Just help them commit to an honest effort and attempt.

Again, the goal is not to make them suffer, but to help them be okay with discomfort while striving for something they want.


3. Help Them Understand Delayed Gratification

You could say that grit is just our ability to delay gratification, to sacrifice immediate gratification so that we can achieve long term goals.  When your son or daughter wants to quit something because it is hard, first help them remember why it is they started in the first place. Try to help them visualize what it will be like to win the championship, walk across the stage to get the diploma while their name is being called over the speakers and everyone is standing up cheering for them or to play that difficult musical arrangement at the next recital. This is why it is so important to start with setting a clear goal, something your child wants to accomplish.  It gives them something to hold in their imagination and look forward to when times get tough.

Second, help your son or daughter recognize and be mindful of the immediate rewards they are already receiving.  Can they recognize the value of the friendships they are making by being a part of a team? Or can they find joy in the fact they did better this week than last week? Most experiences are not all good or all bad.  When we validate our kid’s struggles while helping them find the good, it makes it much easier for them to persevere.


4. Develop Self-efficacy

It is difficult to keep working toward a goal if you don’t believe you can actually accomplish it.  Self-efficacy is the belief that one can accomplish difficult things. Higher levels of self-efficacy are linked to greater motivation and positive thinking skills.

Your son or daughter can develop self-efficacy just by trying to do things they previously thought were impossible. We see this all the time with the students at our program. These adolescents and young adults believe that “If I completed all of these difficult tasks during wilderness therapy, I can do other difficult things!”  Our students do things they never thought possible before coming to an adventure therapy program. They master many activities that initially terrify them, including rappelling, rock climbing, skiing, snowboarding, and mountain biking. With each activity, their belief in themselves grows. They not only believe they can do hard things, they know it.

Upon returning home, this confidence in their ability to do hard things helps fuel their commitment to school, family relationships, and other goals.  Self-efficacy is key to developing grit.


5. Embrace a Growth Mindset

Similar to self-efficacy, a growth mindset is a belief that one’s talents & abilities aren’t fixed.  This means that knowledge, skills, talents, and abilities can all be grown and improved depending on how much effort we put into developing them.  For example, someone with a fixed mindset may say, “I’m not good at math.” But someone with a growth mindset would say, “I’m not good at math yet.”  Here are two ways to develop a growth mindset and build grit:

Value Effort over Talent

Students today, particularly in our society, are highly praised for their achievement, test scores or talent. Instead, we may want to focus more on praising their effort. As parents we must ask ourselves, can we value hard work, can we value effort more than talent?  

I think we tend to get sort of enamored with talent and how amazing our kids are. If they start to see success, instead of focusing on how their achievement or talent, try honoring, praising, and rewarding their perseverance.  You may say, “Wow, you have practiced that a lot! No wonder the recital went so well” instead of commenting about how smart or talented they are. Continue to focus on the effort and tenacity that it took to achieve the goal.

Change How We See Failure & Stop Rescuing

This is kind of a paradigm shift for a lot of us, but to help our children learn a growth mindset we might need to let them fail.  An effective way to treat anxiety is called exposure therapy. This therapy slowly exposes people to their fears in incrementally increased doses until a fear no longer holds any power over them.  When we let our kids fail, it is kind of like providing a form of exposure therapy. We’re able to reframe failure from something to be feared and turn it into something that is necessary to learn and grow.

Let failure be an event, not a person. By allowing the process of failure to be a catalyst for teaching, our kids develop even more stamina and resolve.  Many of us have heard of the example of Edison and the light bulb. And it wasn’t about that he failed 1000 times, but that he found 999 ways not to make a light build.  By positively exposing your son or daughter to failure at an early age, you prepare them to handle the difficult situations they will face when they go out on their own.

And as a parent myself, I get it. This process is painful for us as parents. We want to rescue our kids from the pain of failure.  However, I don’t know that there is a better teacher than pain or failure or shortcomings. What we must not do is lift them up and carry them beyond those limitations and those failures.  We must not be helicopter parents or lawnmower parents, but rather failure to be the great learning experiences that can teach grit and long-term success. And success is going and growing from failure to failure without any loss of enthusiasm


6. Validate Painful Emotions While Showing Encouragement

Despite the fact we want our children to be comfortable being uncomfortable, we don’t want to negate what they are feeling.  Trying new things is hard. Failure is painful. And having grit doesn’t mean you don’t feel pain. It’s okay to feel hurt or frustrated.  We all have those feelings. The difference is that people with grit push through the discomfort and pain until they achieve their goals.

If your son or daughter is struggling to push through the struggle, first try to validate what your child is feeling.  Share with them your experiences trying new things.  Let them know that you understand how they feel. But, your goal is not to rescue them from the hard feeling but to strengthen their ability to handle difficult emotions.

Secondly, tell your son or daughter that you are confident they will be able to succeed.  It can be helpful to share specifics as to why you are confident. For example, you may say, “I know how difficult this is for you.  Learning new things can be hard and scary, even for me. I remember how you practiced so hard for your last recital and it turned out wonderfully.  I know if you keep practicing, you can master this piece too. I believe in you.”

And here is the hard part, our actions also need to show we are confident in their abilities.  We can’t tell them they are capable and then rescue them by helping them escape the discomfort or doing the task for them.


Conclusion

Your child’s grit, or their ability to focus their perseverance and passion for long-term goals, might be a better predictor of future success and academic achievement than their intelligence. And while you can’t force your child to develop grit, through deliberate practice you can help your child develop grit.

Please contact us to learn more about how wilderness adventure therapy can help your son or daughter develop grit, overcome behavioral struggles, and heal your family relationships.


  • David Mayeski, LCSW
    David Mayeski, LCSW
    Family Services Director

Wilderness Therapy for Eating Disorders and Body Image Issues

overcoming body image issues in a Wilderness Therapy Program

I became passionate about treating eating disorders and body image disorders almost 15 years ago while working in residential treatment. It’s not an easy area of practice because progress can be slow and sometimes almost imperceptible. Studies show that it takes an average of 7 years to fully recover from an eating disorder. But over long periods of time, I watched men and women emerge from the fog of addiction and reclaim their lives. That work, for me, is rewarding.

As you can imagine, after 15 years, I had strong opinions about the best path to recovery, the best mode of therapy, and had my preferred treatment methods for helping people struggling with eating disorders. A few years ago, wilderness therapy was not one of the types of treatment on my radar to use with this population.

Fast forward to the present moment: my perspective has changed. I have learned much more about how wilderness therapy is precisely the tool that many of my clients have needed to overcome some major hurdles in their fight for recovery.

Read moreWilderness Therapy for Eating Disorders and Body Image Issues

Wilderness Therapy in Winter: Staying Safe While Healing & Having Fun

Wilderness Therapy in Winter

Wilderness therapy in winter offers therapeutic value and unique opportunities for growth, especially at Aspiro. Not only is winter in Utah incredibly beautiful with the views of snow-capped landscapes, but a Utah winter also provides students with diverse environments and allows them to accomplish things they never thought possible. Living in the winter elements provides students with a boost of confidence, greater resilience, and an increase in self-efficacy. Research indicates these qualities translate into a strong belief in the ability to do hard things. Once a student moves on to the next step following Aspiro, this belief stays with them; whether it be the confidence to tackle an algebra class, to communicate with a peer, or to be emotionally open and vulnerable with a parent.

Aspiro’s priority is ensuring the safety of students throughout the year, and especially during the winter months. Maintaining the highest standards of risk management is crucial to the Aspiro team. There are many protocols in place that apply to different aspects of the program. Below are some areas where there is an additional focus in the winter months.

Gear/Supplies

During every season, a variety of seasonally appropriate gear is provided to ensure comfort and safety. In the winter:

  • thick, warm coats are given out,
  • an addition to wool socks,
  • 2 pair of gloves,
  • a warm winter hat,
  • layers of thermal underwear,
  • fleece layers,
  • and waterproof layers.

Students also have insulated winter hiking boots and over-boots.

Students are given a -20-degree sleeping bag plus two insulated sleeping pads in order to protect them from feeling cold at night. The specialized gear, a student’s body heat, and the heat from the others in the shelter provide a cozy place to sleep. Also, students spend a few hours each week at the field office near Aspiro’s base camp, where they take warm showers and get freshly laundered clothes for the new week, ensuring they have clean and dry clothes available. All gear is regularly assessed and replaced or repaired as needed, in order to ensure that all students are comfortable and warm.

In addition, students are taught to properly care for and pack their gear so it stays dry, as well as how to wear the right layers in the correct order, to ensure warmth. Field staff teach the students to first use a wicking layer next to their skin to help move moisture away from their bodies. Second, they put on on an insulating layer to keep that heat trapped in, and lastly, they have a waterproof layer to keep out moisture and wind. It’s a science!

Staying Warm When the Weather is Cold

In addition to quality clothing and gear, another utilized practice for staying warm is engaging in warm-up exercises first thing in the morning, throughout the day, and before bed, in order to keep blood circulating and the body’s core temperature high. Being proactive and getting moving is the best way to stay warm.

To supplement physical movement and activity for warmth, each student and staff member has a stove that heats water efficiently. They then put this hot water in water bottles and keep them next to their bodies under their layers of clothing, or in their sleeping bags at night. This hot water, which can be made quickly and often, is also used for herbal tea and to make warm meals.

Students also utilize fires and wood burning stoves to stay warm. Army grade tents are available while at base camp, and each of these has a wood burning stove inside. Students spend time in these tents doing activities, eating meals, participating in therapy, group activities, and receiving safety checks. Each tent is equipped with thermometers in order to monitor the temperature, as well as carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors.

Versatility in the Location of Programming

One of the most unique aspects of Aspiro is the ability to utilize many environments throughout the state of Utah, ranging from the mountains in the North to the warm desert climate down South. Taking into account the therapeutic objectives for each group, as well as weather conditions, Aspiro has the flexibility to send students on various adventure itineraries throughout the state of Utah. These can range from mountain biking on the red rock terrain in the warmth of the St. George desert, to skiing in the fresh snow up in the mountains of Sundance, Utah.

During the winter month’s Aspiro dedicates considerable time to warmer itineraries down South such as mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking, and canyoneering. Although Aspiro often utilizes the warmer desert climate during the winter, there is great therapeutic value in the cold weather adventure itineraries as well. These winter itineraries create a great sense of confidence as students learn to care for themselves in more difficult conditions, learn to plan ahead and ensure they are prepared, recognize they have the tools and equipment to stay warm and safe and gain confidence from their ability to manage the winter elements. Another important part of wilderness therapy in winter is learning to reframe snow and winter as an opportunity for peace, enjoyment, and learning. Students often report that some of the winter adventure itineraries are their favorites.

Cold Weather Adventure Itineraries

Winter presents its own beautiful twist on the scenery and allows students to access incredible places in Utah that might be overpopulated in the spring or summer. This allows them to take full advantage of the solitude and peace that comes from the lack of other visitors while snowshoeing on untouched trails, or backpacking amidst the quiet landscape.

In addition to snowshoeing and backpacking, skiing is a favorite winter adventure.  Not only is skiing an enjoyable activity, but in addition, students gain skills such as awareness of self and others, physical strength and coordination, and an ability to find great emotional reward as they get into the state of “flow”. Flow Theory stems from positive psychology, and is the state of mind where one is focused completely on the moment and is fully “in the zone”. In this state of flow, there is a feeling of being more present than ever, losing oneself completely, and being intensely focused. Being in a state of flow helps students learn to alleviate anxiety and stress in life as they practice getting into this mindful place.

Vehicles

Aspiro’s vehicles are regularly inspected and all have high-quality all-terrain tires, as well as tire chains available to use as needed. Each vehicle is also equipped with a tracking device, allowing the field leadership team to know where all vehicles are at each moment, as well as exactly how each driver is doing. This helps ensure the safety of both guides and staff. All staff also go through a DDC professional driving course and must have a clean driving record in order to be eligible to drive Aspiro vehicles. There is also great flexibility in the Aspiro program that allows a group to drive out to a different area to camp or facilitate a therapeutic adventure if driving conditions are deemed unsafe by the risk management team.

Medical Checks

Aspiro guides complete hand and foot checks on every student at a minimum of 3 times a day, and check to ensure there are no injuries or blistering. During these checks, extremities are closely evaluated and the warmth and comfort of each student is confirmed. This close evaluation is in addition to the constant safety monitoring of every student that takes place 24 hours a day.
The guides call into the leadership team twice per day to report on each student and have access to the Registered Nurse or EMT 24/7 as needed. Aspiro’s medical team also has access to a Medical Doctor at all times.

In addition to guides completing safety checks of the students, students also complete regular hand, foot, and face washing to ensure cleanliness and safe hygiene. Students are also physically evaluated once a week by a member of the medical team, and each student is analyzed by a Body Composition Analyzer, which reports to the team a student’s weight, body fat percentage, body mass Index, and skeletal and muscle mass. Aspiro’s medical team uses this information to gauge each student’s individual diet and to ensure they all are getting the proper amount of calories, nutrition, and exercise.

Diet

In the winter, students receive additional food that has a higher fat content in order to ensure more caloric intake. Foods denser in calories take longer to metabolize, thus increasing overall body warmth. Because winter temperatures can require more energy to manage, a higher calorie diet also helps offset this. In addition to fresh fruits and vegetables, students eat nuts, peanut butter, canned salmon, canned tuna, rice, beans, cheese, oatmeal, and more, in order to get the calories and energy needed. Staff monitor food and water intake closely to ensure that students are getting the nutrition and hydration they need.

Weather Monitoring

Aspiro’s Operations Team is continuously monitoring weather on a daily basis. They use weather predictions and patterns as part of the information gathered when they plan the weekly schedule for students. Guides that are out in the field communicate with the Operations Team and on-call leadership members at least twice a day. During this call, the guides are updated as needed, regarding weather conditions so they can make any changes necessary to their daily plan. Students do not engage in activities outside of the campsite if temperatures drop below 10 degrees.  Instead, at that point, they stay at camp and keep warm by engaging in warm-up exercises and doing activities by the wood-burning stoves or by a fire.

Staff Training

Aspiro guides are taught to empower students with the information they need in order to live safely in the wilderness and to manage various temperatures and environments. These staff are trained on various topics in numerous areas and attend mandatory training on a weekly basis. The training for winter includes how to build winter shelters, how to implement emergency heat wraps, first aid, how to respond to any cold weather emergency scenarios, how to monitor for winter safety, and more. Aspiro’s medical team, a Registered Nurse, an EMT, and a Medical Doctor, are on call 24/7 and available to answer any questions that guides may have while in the field.

Aspiro guides are certified or working toward certification as Wilderness First Responders (WFR), which is the nationally recognized standard in wilderness medicine and provides education on the best practices for risk mitigation. A WFR certification typically requires 72-80 hours of classroom training and practice and includes a written and practical exam.

Throughout the year, and especially during the winter at Aspiro, a great amount of time and effort goes into ensuring the quality of programming, the availability of high-quality gear, the training of staff, a healthy diet, and overall safety. The attention to detail and safety in these areas adds to an impactful wilderness experience. The joy that comes when completing a winter adventure, the peace attained through the serenity of the quiet landscape, and the additional opportunities for growth that are found during the snowy adventure itineraries all lead to a powerful and life-changing experience.

Defining Level 1 Autism: Distinguishing Why Different Levels of Care are Needed for Different Traits

Understanding the levels of autism, especially Level 1 Autism by Defining the Traits and Behaviors of Autism Spectrum Disorder

By: Carl Smoot, PhD, Shane A. Whiting, Ph.D., LMFT, Brandon Moffitt, LPC

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is defined as having persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts.

Levels of Autism

The current DSM-5 diagnostic manual has separated the disorder into three varying degrees:

  • Level 1: Requiring Support
  • Level 2: Requiring Substantial Support
  • Level 3: Requiring Very Substantial Support

In this article, we will focus specifically on level 1 autism, distinguishing traits of level 1 autism, and how specialized treatment such as a wilderness adventure therapy or a residential program can help.

Defining the Traits and Behaviors of Level 1 Autism

Individuals with level 1 autism, without proper support, will display noticeable impairments in social communication. Common behaviors in individuals with level 1 autism include:

  • Inflexibility in behavior and thought
  • Difficulty switching between activities
  • Problems with executive functioning which hinder independence
  • Atypical response to others in social situations
  • Difficulty initiating social interactions and maintaining reciprocity in social interaction

Theory of Mind in Specialized Treatment Programs for Level 1 Autism

One of the most effective ways to treat level 1 autism is through utilizing the Theory of Mind. Theory of Mind and adaptive skills-based treatment that targets executive function, emotional regulation, cognitive flexibility, social communication skills, and anxiety reduction. These are all critical aspects in the field of Level 1 treatment, particularly in specialized treatment programs such as Vantage Point, Black Mountain Academy, and Daniels Academy.

Theory of Mind is the ability to accurately predict or attune to the thoughts, intentions, feelings, and perspective of another person. Individuals with autism have delays in this particular development. As a toddler, a neurotypical child will transition into a phase of cooperative play in which theory of mind begins to develop. Ideally, the child begins to be aware of the needs and feelings of those around them.  When theory of mind does not develop, early adolescence is marked with delays in social maturation, social/emotional problem solving, and cognitive flexibility all of which play a crucial part in adaptive function.

Enrolling a teen in a specialized program that both understands and executes Theory of Mind can help these individuals with ASD become more aware of other perspectives in addition to learning social skills and adaptability.

Wilderness Adventure Therapy and Specialized Residential Programs as Treatment for Level 1 Autism

Additionally, for teens with level 1 autism, a credible wilderness adventure therapy program, such as Vantage Point by Aspiro, or a smaller residential programs such as Daniel’s Academy or Black Mountain Academy, can be a highly effective treatment option in helping these individuals improve their social skills, establish healthier patterns, and learn how to make smooth transitions.

Vantage Point: Short-Term Program as Treatment for Level 1 Autism

Short-term wilderness adventure therapy programs such as Vantage Point should be considered as an intervention, foundation, and starting point for level 1 autism treatment.  When students first begin treatment in a specialized program like Vantage Point, they participate in a variety of adventure activities, service, and community involvement. This helps lay the foundation for them to establish a connection with the people and the world around them. This is especially effective in a short-term specialized treatment program because of the novel and new environment.

Daniels Academy and Black Mountain Academy: Long-Term Care for Level 1 Autism

With Vantage Point and other short-term programs serving as a starting off point, long-term programs such as Daniel’s Academy and Black Mountain Academy provide students with ongoing reinforcement, application, and long-term efforts to solidify new skills. A long-term residential program is able to teach teens with ASD these skills on a long-term basis through project-based learning systems as a way to collaboratively solve problems that have real-world application.

Ultimately, both long-term and short-term programs help teens with ASD break through boundaries, build awareness, and establish healthier cognitive and behavioral patterns. Students with ASD who enroll in a specialized treatment program learn how to reduce their stress through coping skills and learn how to increase their flexibility and improve their social skills. The students are able to make lasting change and internalize these skills through cognitive behavioral, collaboration and communication, consistency, active training, verbal praise, and encouragement.

Conclusion

Each individual with autism is unique. The level of disability and combination of symptoms can vary dramatically on the autism spectrum which makes it essential for every child and teen with ASD to get a proper diagnosis and the treatment they need. For teens with level 1 autism, a credible wilderness adventure therapy program or residential program can help refine and teach these individuals how to work through their executive function deficits through individualized care and research-based model to facilitate lifelong growth and lasting change.

This article is brought to you by Aspiro Group. To learn more about the authors of this article, click here.

About Aspiro Group

The Aspiro Adventure programs are uniquely crafted to assist students and their families in creating lasting, life-long emotional changes through compassionate, intentional, research-backed, and safe outdoor adventure therapy programs. The professionals at all of the Aspiro group programs understand individuals don’t come with instructions, and every student is unique, capable, and amazing in their own right.

All of our programs focus on helping adolescents, young adults, and their families through difficulties that occur when various behavioral, cognitive, or developmental issues are present. Research shows that engaging individuals on a personal level with strategic and intentional activities will aid in developing the tools and skills necessary to engage life in a healthy and positive way. Aspiro group programs include Aspiro Adventure, Daniel’s Academy, Vantage Point, Pure Life,  Black mountain Academy, and Outback.

To learn more about level 1 autism, we recommend the following resources:

Aspiro’s Book of the Month – Review of “Option B’

Option B  - Aspiro Adventure Therapy

by Ryon Smith, LCSW

One of the many things I enjoy about working here at Aspiro is the emphasis placed on professional and personal development. This development includes many things such as consulting the team on complex cases, calling a colleague after hours to enlist support, joining our Friday yoga class, and more. One avenue of development that I appreciate most is our Book of the Month tradition. Titles in the past have included “Braving the Wilderness” by Brene Brown, “Brainstorm” by Daniel Siegel, “Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker, and a personal favorite, “Grit” by Angela Duckworth.  These monthly titles have given me an opportunity to contemplate work and life through many different lenses.

I’d like to share some thoughts and ideas I found noteworthy from a recent read, “Option B- Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy,” by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. To provide some context, author and Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, tragically lost her husband in a freak accident while the two were on vacation. As the title suggests, she recalls her pain, shares her growth, and contemplates what it has meant for her to move forward as a business leader and mother.  

As it is with physical health and body strength, activity and exercise build muscle, while lack thereof results in atrophy.  While I am not a physician of internal medicine, I confidently know this about our bodies, and as stated by my doctor during a recent check-up about my joints and muscles, “You use them, or you lose them.” Let’s call this the Activity vs. Atrophy example.

Resilience must also be built up and exercised regularly, just like our muscles.  (Activity vs Atrophy). Resilience is difficult to measure, see, or touch and is a current area of research buzzing with interest. The research review on resilience from “Option B” covered everything from grit to post-traumatic growth, at-risk youth, as well as youth not at risk, and the conclusion the authors arrived at is “—resilience is not a fixed personality trait. It’s a lifelong project.”  While the implications to this statement are countless, in this review I want to call attention to how we raise our children and manage our caseloads.

As both parents and professionals, we work to help build resilience in others. In order to do so, it is important that we don’t teach our clients or our children to remove the obstacles they encounter (or be the ones to remove them), but instead teach them to overcome, to experience difficulty, to find meaning, to learn and to grow. The authors describe that we can support the growth of resilience through helping the people in our lives realize the following four principles: 

  1. They have some control over their lives
  2. They can learn from failure
  3. They matter as human beings
  4. They have real strengths to rely on and share

The book emphasized how resilience can be introspective in thought but is also vastly influenced by external factors. We each are responsible for building resilience in those around us every day.  Let’s consider our bids to support a loved one in times of difficulty with a statement from the book, “In prosperity, our friends know us, in adversity, we know our friends.” We need to show up, not just say we will show up if needed. Sandberg, the author of the book, discussed differences in how people showed support soon after the death of her husband. When asked if she needed anything from someone, it was easier to say no, and awkward to ask for help. She recalled a sense of relief when someone just took initiative. As Sandberg described in the book, don’t ask someone if they would like you to bring them lunch, let them know you are doing so and ask them what they like or don’t like on their burger.  

The book focused on supporting others in building resilience as well as building it ourselves. To do so, we need to practice self-care and allow ourselves moments when we can feel joy. As we take care of ourselves we are indirectly taking care of our clients and children. Self care also allows us to “take back joy” and give ourselves permission to enjoy small things. We are encouraged to create frequent positive experiences – big or small. Another tip in the book is to write down moments of joy every day.  Doing things like this increases our ability to find joy during times of adversity, and the ability to do this is true resilience! As quoted in the book by a blogger, “Happiness is the joy you find on hundreds of forgettable Wednesdays.”

In conclusion, resilience must be practiced. It’s Activity vs. Atrophy. Lifestyle over time is a predictor of physical health, and the same can be said for resilience and mental health. Like working out, going for a walk, or hiking, strength is built from routine maintenance. Your resilience comes from internal and external factors, and both types of these factors are dependent on each other.  Grow your resilience muscles. Make sure people in your life are seen and acknowledged by you. Take 2 seconds or 10 to seek understanding, to ask relevant questions and to do things for others, big or small. Show up. Live authentically. Love vigorously.

The Aspiro Model of Change

Wilderness Therapy Programs For Troubled Teens

Here at Aspiro, we put emphasis on skills building, personal growth, and the promotion of self-efficacy through persistence resulting in meaningful achievement and life-long change.

You may wonder:

  1. How do we know our programs are effective?
  2. How do we know our model actually promotes the outcomes we describe?

Our new whitepaper, “The Aspiro Model of Change,” provides the answers to these questions and aims to help adults understand how we can facilitate life-long change in your child.

Aspiro Girls Groups Incorporate Both Adventure and Wellness

Wilderness Therapy for Girls

Aspiro has been successfully working with young women for over 12 years utilizing an integrated approach of wilderness adventure therapy paired with individual, group, and family therapy. With exposure to the Aspiro model, adolescent girls have experienced the therapeutic benefits of mountain biking, rock climbing, canyoneering, backpacking, skiing, and more. These therapeutic modalities have taught them to overcome fears, communicate more effectively, and develop self-regulation skills, resiliency, and grit.
Aspiro is dedicated to providing the most cutting edge treatment modalities in Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare. In addition to continuing with its integrated treatment model, Aspiro is now excited to announce the implementation of a holistic approach to wellness, specifically designed for our female clients. In a world currently filled with increasing mental health and behavioral challenges, it is necessary to teach skills that are uniquely transferable. Incorporating this higher level of focus on nutrition, mindfulness, yoga, and expressive arts therapy provides our clients with an opportunity to learn skills that they can apply for many years to come.

Knowing When to Seek ADHD Treatment

Teen ADHD Treatment - Aspiro Wilderness Therapy Program

Teen ADHD Treatment - Aspiro Wilderness Therapy program for teens and young adultsADHD can affect individuals in a variety of ways; some children with ADHD grow out of the disorder in adolescence. Many will continue to struggle with the condition throughout adulthood. While the symptoms of ADHD in teens and young adults are similar to the symptoms in children, they often become more severe during teenage years due to the hormonal shifts of puberty. Impulsive, irritable, overactive children who have difficulty focusing can evolve into teens who with an increasing number of issues.

Read moreKnowing When to Seek ADHD Treatment

Family Systems Work at Aspiro Adventure: A Wilderness Treatment Program

how to help underachieving students

Aspiro Adventure Therapy is a program dedicated to Family Systems work, and my personal passion for working with families has developed over the past 20 years as a therapist. I have seen the value of the Systems approach in both family therapy, and parent coaching, as well as while leading parent workshops, and running family therapeutic processing groups.  I have seen time and time again how important it is for an entire family to engage in the therapeutic treatment process in order to create lasting change.

Family Systems theory is the idea that there is an inherent connectedness in families, therefore family members react to one another. If one member’s behavior changes, the other family members change their behaviors in response. In other words, we are not “islands” unto ourselves, but we are affected by those in our family system and develop patterns of behavior based on this. We have various degrees of connection and disconnection with different family members as well.

In my career, it has been important to me to help families identify their patterns and their connections with one another, then find tools and build skills in order to strengthen and rebuild relationships. I have seen that with guidance, families have the ability to work together again to communicate effectively and develop healthy patterns and relationships.

Over the years as a clinician, I have heard family members make comments like, “This problem has nothing to do with me.” or “How can this behavior be my fault?  The other kids never did this.” Even statements like “I didn’t even say a word, This is between him and his Mother.” While it is understandable that family struggles can feel overwhelming and unmanageable, our attempt to take no responsibility and disengage from the system is virtually impossible. Each family member’s actions create a reaction and response in every other member, even if we don’t realize it.  And, seemingly doing nothing at all often times can be one of the most destructive things we can do within a family system.

Take for example the story of a father named “Mike.” Mike reluctantly attended a family therapy session where he sat quietly, arms folded and let out an occasional sigh.  Inevitably the student lashed out and said, “Why do you even bother coming? … This is just a waste of time!” Mike turned to the counselor incredulously and said, “What did I do? I was just sitting here and then got attacked for my effort to support.”  This is a prime example of the need for family systems work. Mike needs to realize his actions are negatively affecting his son, even though he isn’t saying anything and believes he is being supportive.

Here at Aspiro we feel strongly that no one is to blame and that everybody has a part.  This is why I love family systems work. Each one of us has the ability to influence the system.  Notice the words “influence the system” not “control”. We often become frustrated when we cannot control the outcome, the choices our children make, or even the ability to keep them out of harm’s way.  Many of us have gone to great lengths to control this outcome only to be hurt, disappointed and fearful.

We want to teach your family a better way of working through family issues such as communication problems, holding boundaries, creating structure, lack of validation and support, negative family roles and negative patterns of behavior.  Understanding how we can become powerful agents of change in our family systems, and not merely alone, and scared members of our families, is powerful.

Families often wonder how we are able to do family systems work while students are out in the wilderness and not seeing their parents. We do this in a number of ways including:

  • Weekly parent calls with the therapist to work on therapeutic assignments, process the student’s letters home, and to coach families through identifying their own patterns and communication styles.  
  • Weekly webinars covering various topics which will include an examination of the current roles played in families and how to adjust these roles, the stages of change, parenting styles and more.  These webinars also serve as a platform for connection and support with other parents.
  • In-person Parent Seminars where families learn more strategies for growth as well as have an opportunity to spend some time working towards a healthier family system with their child while doing some emotional work as well as time spent engaging and connecting over a 2 day period of time.

An additional layer of support as needed through parent coaching with myself, the Family Services Director, can be available as well.

It is exciting to be part of a dynamic program that combines a focus on the whole child, the family system, wellness and mindfulness, and adventure therapy, all into one!

David Mayeski, LCSW

TO learn about David click here! http://aspiroadventure.com/dvteam/david-mayeski-msw/

family systems approach to therapy  - Aspiro Adventure Therapy

Josh Watson, LCSW
CMO

Also specializes in: crisis de-escalation / anxiety resolution / frustration tolerance / verbal de-escalation / CBT/DBT / interpersonal relationships/leadership development

Josh has been working with adolescents, young adults, and their families since 2001. As an original member of the Aspiro Leadership Team, Josh has fulfilled several roles at Aspiro including Clinical Wilderness Therapist, Clinical Supervision, Admissions Director, Strategic Development, and currently serves as the Chief Marketing Officer. He is passionate about carrying out the mission of Aspiro and creating the best possible experience for our clients. When Josh is not at work he enjoys traveling, cooking, outdoor adventure (of course!), golf, and spending time doing just about anything with his wife and two daughters.

David Mayeski, LCSW
Family Services Director

Also specializes in: Family Systems Work / Understanding Family Roles, Dynamics and Power Struggles / Genograms

David comes to Aspiro with almost 20 years of experience working with families in therapeutic programs. Originally David received his Bachelor’s degree in Government and Politics and went on to earn his Master of Social Work.

Prior to joining Aspiro, David served in many capacities at highly respected residential treatment centers as a primary therapist, Admissions Director, and Clinical Director. After working as a primary therapist for two years, he was awarded his License in Clinical Social Work (LCSW) in 2003 and has continued practicing therapy with students and their families. His desire to help families heal and overcome obstacles, his years of experience, and his clinical sophistication, make him the perfect match as the Family Services Director where he continues to help families heal through parent coaching, therapy sessions, webinars, and during groups over Aspiro’s Parent Seminars.

David is passionate about helping others and guiding families through their journey of connecting and healing as a system. David enjoys talking politics, playing a round of golf, and especially cherishes time with his beautiful wife and three children.