Learning Family Systems

A Conversation With Theresa Wardle

Like our last blog post, we continue to have ongoing themes each quarter where we get to do deep dives into getting to know who we work with,  explore each person’s background, and how they integrate their experience with their students and families. Last week, I spoke with outBACK’s Admissions Director, Theresa Wardle and how her background as a therapist has helped shape her role in Admissions.  

In thinking about her sense of purpose for holding the title of Director of Admissions, Theresa comes across as humble and genuine–speaking with ease comes from having worked with her own students and their families as a therapist. “It’s more than providing information and answering parents’ questions about outBACK. I want them to understand the power of wilderness therapy–amazing intervention that combines the beauty of the outdoors with clinical expertise. With the support of their relationships with their families, kids and staff, students in wilderness are able to slow down, see their greatness, then be open to accepting help.” As a parent herself, she sees the complexities of making a huge decision of choosing a wilderness program. “I have incredible empathy for parents. As a therapist, I’m incredibly grateful for my experience of working with teens and families over the years. To be able to view anxiety, depression, trauma, family relationships, life experiences through a clinical lens and at the same time to understand the complexities and that every child is unique.” Being able to see both perspectives gives Theresa an inviting and natural connection to future students and families. It is this bond that continues even after a student has left outBACK. “I’ve known so many teens who have attended wilderness programs and [I get to] talk to them and their parents and see firsthand how they grew and healed through challenges they faced.” 

Theresa stays connected with families through the entirety of joining wilderness to the end and it is something that is a direct reflection of working with an amazing team at outBACK and her caring nature.  Theresa keeps herself apprised of the progress made by students and families throughout their enrollment and this is a direct reflection of working with an great team at outBACK along with her genuine caring nature. “The therapists are amazing humans who will care for their child and do everything they can to support them. My goal is to help parents know more and make informed, confident decisions about what their child needs. “ 

Theresa has an observed understanding of who each student, parent and caregiver is. “I’m always in awe of parents or caregivers. The depth of their love and dedication is truly a leap of faith when enrolling your child in a program and trusting other people. I feel honored to hear their vulnerability on the calls and listen to their hearts, hopes, and fears. When they join outBACK, I’m humbled by their decision for the journey ahead for their family.”

This week, Theresa was featured in our staff spotlight where we acknowledge a team member and their contributions to outBACK  throughout the week. You can follow along on Instagram for future staff spotlights. 

Photo Credit: Theresa Wardle


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