Meet Aspiro Therapist Hannah Eckert

Hannah Eckert, Adventure Therapist at Aspiro Wilderness Therapy Program

Hannah is originally from the Adirondacks in Northern New York and has always loved the outdoors. This love took her to Colorado where she studied psychology at the University of Denver. Upon graduating, she was excited to discover Aspiro, where she could combine psychology and outdoor adventure while working as a field guide. She quickly saw students thriving in the program and decided to further her education to become a therapist, obtaining her Master of Social Work at the University of Utah with a focus on substance abuse, and grief & loss. 

Hannah is a firm believer in adventure therapy and recognizes the power and growth that adventure brings to her students. During her 5 years at Aspiro, Hannah has seen her students develop a more secure identity, develop grit, and embrace their ability to overcome difficult challenges through adventure therapy. Hannah not only sees this progress during therapy sessions, but she also takes the time to visit her students while they are out rock climbing, canyoneering, mountain biking, or skiing. She appreciates the opportunity to see her students in different environments and states that this provides an excellent platform for assessment in addition to an opportunity to get to know her students even better.

Hannah’s involved therapeutic approach allows her to individualize each student’s treatment plan. She also is trained in acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and motivational interviewing, and utilizes multiple principles of dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) as well, which all contribute to her ability to effectively address the therapeutic concerns of each of her student’s. These may include anxiety, depression, social/executive function deficits, defiance, impulsivity, poor decision making, substance abuse, school challenges, underdeveloped identity, and low sense of self. 

Hannah recognizes that it is critical for teenagers to discover who they are, and having space to do this in the wilderness is especially beneficial as they have a space to be more introspective. She has found success in guiding her students on this journey of self-discovery and has found significant success in helping students with their identity formation, and she is especially gifted at getting to the root of issues by identifying and addressing underlying emotional problems. Hannah’s students leave Aspiro feeling more emotionally grounded and with a more communicative and open relationship with their parents.  Hannah shares that upon completing Aspiro, her students often say that they “have the strength to overcome anything that comes their way.” Their development of this strength translates to academics as well, as they are less likely to be overwhelmed by day to day challenges. Parents report feeling more connected to their child more than ever before and are optimistic about the future.

"We can't thank [Aspiro] and (our Son’s) excellent therapist, Hannah Eckert, enough for everything she has done for our son. His time at Aspiro has helped him develop important personal strengths & insights as well as a deep appreciation for the great outdoors. This is a gift he will have for life, whatever challenges he may face in the future."

J.H. (Aspiro Parent)

The Aspiro Clinical Team Welcomes Noel Koons

Aspiro Adventure Therapy Welcomes New Therapist, Noel Koons

Aspiro is happy to welcome Noel Koons to the clinical team. Noel is trained in EMDR, DBT, CBT, Motivational Interviewing, and more. For the past 11 years, Noel has worked in a variety of settings, including residential treatment centers and therapeutic boarding schools, and has had the pleasure of working with many Aspiro graduates. Noel has seen the Aspiro program have a powerful impact on many students during his career and is excited to now be a part of the Aspiro team.

Noel enjoys working with many populations and specifically looks forward to joining the Vantage Point team where his focus will be on students who often have a more neurodiverse profile. These students frequently have difficulty acclimating to social settings, may have anxiety and depression without having a clear understanding of why they are feeling that way, often are not able to understand how their actions are affecting others, and might not be able to communicate their needs effectively. Noel aims to aid parents and students in finding tools they can use to better understand these things, improve their relationships, renew hope, and find success.

Noel’s warm and curious nature allows the students he works with to gain comfort in being open and emotionally vulnerable, and his approach helps him to identify deeper issues without getting distracted by surface-level symptoms. He enjoys helping clients gain a better understanding of how their brain works, navigate the social world, and gain coping skills to overcome stress.

Noel was born and raised in Utah and appreciates the power of both wilderness and adventure. He is an avid biker, snowshoer, and hiker himself, and finds that time in nature leads to spiritual recalibration, camaraderie, and a sense of mastery. He states that outdoor adventures such as these are both healing and therapeutic to him personally, making him a natural advocate for the adventure therapy model.

Most of all Noel feels passionate about connecting families. He enjoys seeing the transformation within clients’ families as they go through treatment. Noel summarizes his work with families by saying,

“I’ve witnessed incredible things happen when people are willing to work towards understanding, harmony, and peace within their families. What could be more important?”

We expect that more incredible things are on the way as we welcome Noel to Aspiro and the Vantage Point team.

Call us at (801) 349-2740 if you would like more information about Noel, any of our clinical team, or on Aspiro Adventure Therapy.

Welcoming Jamie Ahern Back To Aspiro’s Clinical Team

Welcoming back Jamie Ahern to Aspiro's Clinical Team | Aspiro Adventure Therapy

As we launch into 2019 Aspiro is excited to welcome Jamie Ahern back to the Clinical Team!

Jamie is a warm and inviting therapist with a passion for helping young people in the outdoors. He has been a therapist for 8 years and is trained in a number of therapeutic modalities including CBT, DBT, EMDR, and Motivational Interviewing. Jamie has worked as a wilderness guide, as a community mental health therapist, and as a wilderness therapist. Jamie is committed to helping clients facilitate lasting change through the therapeutic connection he forms and the research-backed interventions he utilizes.

Jamie believes in the healing power of the outdoors as well as the many opportunities for growth that can be found through adventure. He is an avid outdoorsman and can be found fly fishing, hunting, mountain biking, hiking or skiing whenever he gets the chance. Jamie says that some of the most profound moments of his life have come from these experiences and have brought him great emotional insight and healing.

“My outdoor adventures have taught me how to do extraordinarily difficult things and through them I have learned how to challenge myself, how to focus, and how to push myself physically. This has taught me that I can do things outside of my comfort zone; things I didn’t think I was able to do. This has helped me to really challenge myself both personally and professionally and has led to an increased desire to find new skills, attend more trainings, and to create applications to my work that I may not have otherwise seen,” says Jamie.

In addition, Jamie shares that outdoor adventure not only motivates him but is also the medicine he needs to keep himself level. He also finds that the outdoor community keeps him grounded and connected. Engaging in outdoor adventure is how he met many of his friends, including his wife. He loves to share this enthusiasm with his students and help them find their own healthy outlets, gain an understanding of the power of nature, and discover the close connections with self and others that can be found there.

Jamie’s outlook on the outdoors and his personal experiences align perfectly with Aspiro’s philosophy that “#AdventureHeals”. Dr. Carl Smoot, Director of Clinical Assessment, attests to this by saying, “We are excited to have Jamie back on our team. He does a great job of combining his love for facilitating positive change in his students with his passion for the outdoors. Jamie has truly lived a life in which he can personally claim that outdoor adventure has changed him in profound ways. He has found healing on his personal journey through adventure, and sets a great example for his students so they can learn to do the same. His positive energy, sense of humor, fun-loving personality and clinical expertise are an exciting addition to our clinical team.”

Please feel free to e-mail Jamie directly at [email protected] or contact the admissions department [email protected] with any question.

Ryan Coley Promoted to Executive Director

Ryan Coley, Executive Director at Aspiro Adventure Therapy

Aspiro is very excited to announce the promotion of Ryan Coley to Executive Director.

Ryan has been a part of the Aspiro team since 2009 and throughout his tenure has had the opportunity to work in the areas of Admissions, Program Development, Primary Therapist, and Clinical Director.  Ryan has also helped to define and carry out the vision of Aspiro through a passionate dedication to innovation, client care, and customer service. He will continue to lead the Clinical Team in partnership with Associate Clinical Director, Dr. Carl Smoot.

Ryan states, “My focus and commitment is to influence and restore the families that come to the Aspiro Wilderness program. The last nine years have been an inspiration and I look forward to helping Aspiro continue delivering the highest quality service.”  Ryan’s impact on the clinical team has been profound and as the Executive Director, all departments will benefit from his dedication and leadership.

The Aspiro team is enthusiastic about Ryan’s transition into the role of Executive Director and looks forward to serving under his leadership for many years to come!

Best regards and many well wishes throughout 2018,

| Aspiro Wilderness Adventure Therapy  | Aspiro Wilderness Adventure Therapy
Josh Watson, LCSW
Rick Meeves, PhD

Therapist Spotlight: Ryan Coley

Therapist Spotlight: Ryan Coley | Aspiro Adventure Therapy

| Aspiro Wilderness Adventure Therapy Ryan’s contributions to Aspiro over the past 7 years have played a vital role in the ongoing innovation of Aspiro‘s experiential, adventure-based, wilderness treatment model. In collaboration with Associate Clinical Director, Dr. Carl Smoot, Ryan’s primary objective has been to provide leadership, support, and case management to Aspiro’s dynamic clinical team with a focus on long-term sustainability.

“Ryan will always go out of his way to help another person. He genuinely cares about his students, and that level of commitment is contagious. As Aspiro’s Clinical Director, Ryan enriches a team of therapists who are uniquely invested in supporting each other while providing a high level of care to our clients,” says Dr. Smoot.

Ryan is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the State of Utah and specializes in the treatment of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, attachment issues, self-harm, and identity issues in adolescents and young adults. His experience and expertise offer strong leadership and treatment collaboration to Aspiro’s team of therapists.

“I feel so privileged to lead and serve along side of such a wonderful group of therapists
at Aspiro. We’ve created a clinical model where we combine wilderness, high adventure
activities, and talk therapy to produce a rich classroom for our students. Our clinical
team is incredible. They’re diverse, they’re dedicated, they practice proven modalities,
and they care.”

Take a look at this short video clip and get to know Ryan:

Spotlight on Jamie Kaczmarek and Vantage Point

Jamie Kaczmarek, a therapist at Aspiro Adventure's Vantage Point Program for teens and young adults on the spectrum

Jamie Kaczmarek has been instrumental in the development of Aspiro’s Vantage Point program and has been working in the wilderness therapy profession for the past 14 years. She specializes in working with adolescent males and females ages 13-17 years old. According to Jamie, establishing and maintaining meaningful relationships is the foundation of the Vantage Point program.

Read more

Aspiro and Outback Partner Under New CEO

Rick Meeves, CEO | Aspiro Adventure Therapy

It is with great excitement that the Aspiro Group and Outback Therapeutic Expeditions announce a joint partnership that will provide more comprehensive treatment solutions in the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare community!

For over eight years The Aspiro Group and Outback have shared a similar commitment to clinical excellence that promotes a strengths-oriented and relationship-based model of therapy.  Independently, these two leading Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare organizations have demonstrated the effectiveness of a multi-systemic approach utilizing progressive adventure and conventional expedition models of wilderness treatment.

This new business partnership will not affect the independent integrity of either program.  Rather, each program will continue to offer its own format for the most sophisticated level of clinical assessment and treatment.  Aspiro will maintain a primary focus on adventure-based therapy utilizing multiple novel environments, and Outback will deliver its proven model of metaphoric, expeditionary treatment in the beautiful hills of Utah’s West Desert.

| Aspiro Wilderness Adventure TherapyCollectively, The Aspiro Group, including Outback Therapeutic Expeditions, will be led by our new CEO, Dr. Rick Meeves.  Rick is a respected and proven leader in the field of Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare and residential treatment settings.  “This concept of offering a true adventure-based model and a true conventional expedition model under the same management is really exciting to me.  Both provide substantial levels of expertise and proven success, and both programs have a strong and well-defined identity,” said Rick.

The leadership of Aspiro welcomes Rick Meeves to the team, in addition to the partnership with Outback Therapeutic Expeditions.  The Aspiro Group’s Board President, Brian Church, commented, “our innovative field of wilderness therapy is constantly evolving.  This new partnership will continue to jointly advance the clinical best practices of treating adolescents and young adults in the outdoors.”

We look forward to the journey ahead and our ongoing collaboration together.


| Aspiro Wilderness Adventure Therapy

Josh Watson, LCSW
Director of Admissions and Marketing