Our Team

We have years of experience gaining the trust and respect of troubled teens. Outback Therapeutic Expeditions employs a diverse group of professionals with a wide range of talents. Our staff is constantly trying to better themselves in the same way they are asking their students to improve.

REACHING TROUBLED TEENS

At Outback Therapeutic Expeditions, our highly trained staff is dedicated to improving the lives of troubled teens and their families. Your child’s safety is our top priority. In order to ensure their safety, each staff member has passed an extensive background check and has successfully completed training in first aid, CPR, outdoor living skills, and the industry-leading Outback Training Program. The Outback Therapeutic Expeditions staff also participates in weekly service training. At Outback, we maintain a two-on-one practice, never allowing one of our troubled teens to be alone with a staff member.

Rick Meeves, PhD, LMFT

Co-Owner and CEO

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Rick Meeves, PhD, LMFT

Co-Owner and CEO

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
PhD, Marriage and Family Therapy, Brigham Young University
BS, University of Nebraska

Professional Experience

Practicing therapist since 1997
Vice President and National Director of Clinical Quality, CRC Health Group
Founder, Outback Therapeutic Expeditions (2001)
Primary Therapist, Second Nature Wilderness Programs
Clinical Director, Aspen Achievement Academy and Aspen Ranch
McKay Deveraux, MSW, LCSW

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

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McKay Deveraux, MSW, LCSW

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Clinical Social Worker
Masters of Social Work, Brigham Young University
B.S., Utah Valley University

Professional Experience

13 years working with troubled teens in the wilderness
Worked as a Primary Therapist, Program Director, Field Director, and Field staff with Outback
Intern therapist, Utah State Prison – working with male substance users
Battalion Operations Sergeant, U.S. Army Reserves
Combat Veteran – Operation Iraqi Freedom

PERSONAL APPROACH
I love working with boys struggling with substance abuse. Having worked with murdering drug dealers in the prison system, I feel comfortable teaching a kid that is using heroin regularly or a kid that is smoking low grade marijuana on the weekends. Depending on the child’s personality, I like using a mixture of the traditional 12 step approach and the 7 Challenges model. But beyond any clinical footwork, the majority of what I do is help kids that are locked in a place of denial and blame move towards a state of acceptance and change.

Most troubled teens need to push against the proverbial fence to test its strength and make sure it will keep them safe. I like working with the type of kid that runs full speed into the fence because they’re searching so desperately for loving boundaries that can keep them safe. As a combat veteran, I’m not easily intimidated by angry teenagers. I’m a direct person — it doesn’t bother me when a kid tells me where to go and how to get there. I’ve had a lot of success helping these kids turn opposition into commitment, dedication and resilience. My favorite part of being a therapist is designing hands-on interventions that invite teens into powerful and emotional spaces of change.

I’ve heard that therapists tend to treat the type of client they most resemble. I love the type of kid I work with — when you look beyond their external behaviors they are adventurous, dedicated, and full of passion.

PERSONAL INTERESTS

I am the father of 3 daughters ranging from 4 months to 9 years. My favorite thing to do is spend time with them and my wonderful wife. We love to go sledding and ice skating in the winter, and hiking and swimming in the summer. I love using my hands and creative energy to make things. I’ve made wooden spoons, willow baskets, drums, and bows and arrows, but I also like to do home renovation projects like laying tile, painting and doing electrical work. My wife and I were both Outback staff members when we met, and we enjoy brainstorming about work-related topics. I used to be an avid rock and ice climber, but I eventually discovered the meaning of middle age once we were married and had children. My future goals are to begin running Tough Mudders and get my girls into climbing and mountain biking.

Greg Burnham, MS, LMFT

Clinical Director / Adolescent Boys Group Therapist

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Greg Burnham, MS, LMFT

Clinical Director / Adolescent Boys Group Therapist

THE STUDENTS GREG WORKS WITH HAVE A HISTORY OF:

Neurodevelopmental Diversity
Cognitive Rigidity
Executive Functioning Struggles
Attention Deficits
Social (Pragmatic) Communication Deficits
Autism Spectrum Disorder Level I
Anxiety
Depression
Gaming | Tech | Internet Overuse
Struggling w/ Emotional Regulation
Struggling w/ Interpersonal Relationships
Twice Exceptional - Gifted students w/ learnings differences

Professional Experience

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy from Harding University
BS in Psychology from Brigham Young University

Clinical Director Outback Therapeutic Expeditions
Clinical Director WinGate Wilderness Therapy
Clinical Director New Haven, RTC
Primary Therapist Northeastern Counseling
Primary Therapist Cedar Ridge Academy

Personal Approach

 I start off working hard to gain a fast connection with people.  People want to know that you care about them and you understand.  Part of this process of therapeutic alliance involves finding where you can agree on the direction of treatment.  Therapeutic alliance is one of the highest correlated factors for treatment success that is backed by research.  It is easy to say and harder to achieve.  So I make it a focus since I know that I have small window in which to achieve it.  As that relationship is forming in those first couple of sessions I begin to find where I can challenge and invite perspective changes. At that point those two processes become a feedback loop with alliance needing maintained and the inviting of change being a part of that relationship.  All of this is framed and driven by a core understanding of skill’s oriented treatment vs motivation/insight oriented treatment.  Examples of skills would include, emotion regulation, perspective, executive functioning (Manage time and attention (perseverance) Switch Focus (flexibility) Plan and Organize (initiate) Curb inappropriate speech or behavior (inhibition) Integrate past experience with present action (metacognition). Expected too, and yet not able to use life experience to modify behaviors), etc…  When I enter the relationship with the skills perspective it allows for an opening.  The opening is that the individual doesn’t feel pressure from me to change.  Instead they experience a hope from me that over time with lots of practice and a different mindset things can get better.  The strategic part of my approach comes in when we realize that the individuals I work with have been engaged in negative self protection for a long time.  Knocking on the front door is not an option.  I have to shift, maneuver, bob, weave, duck, wait, engage, back off, listen, approach, slow down, speed up, engaged, disengage, reflect, challenge, validate, be firm, allow for escape, invite, etc…  all at the right times and in the right ways to help someone begin to consider that change is safe.  Then I have to do all of those same things to help implement a sustainable change process.  Then I have to do all of those same things to help them sustain that implemented process.  Then I have to do all of those same things to give that process over to them completely.  And lastly, this process allows for a wonderful assessment of who they really are and what they need for their future.  I do not rest until we find a sound understanding of who this wonderful person is!
I also love helping parents make this shift and to see things from this new perspective.  For parents it is the shift to relationship first, and a change in perspective for them.  This opens them up to learn to trust their instincts again as parents from this new framework.  It has been difficult for them as parents because they feel like they are to blame and they are trying to find that one thing that is going to change things.  So, that blame/fix framework combined with their child’s unmanageable behavior leads to family trauma, which necessitates family healing.

Personal Interests

I love running.  I have completed 11 marathons.  I enjoy all things outdoors but most of all hiking.  My favorite hike was the Trans-Zion national park hike I did with my son his senior year in high school.  Growing up my father and uncles played the guitar.  I have many memories sitting around the campfire singing songs with them playing.  I realized several years ago that no one had learned to play the guitar in my generation and the tradition might be lost so I self-taught how to strum and play the songs that my father played.  I love spending time with my family.  I am married with four children.  My son is my oldest and he has graduated from High school and I have 3 daughters.  They are the joy in my life and I love watching them learn, struggle, play and grow.  Lastly I love traveling.  More specifically I love traveling to tropical places.

Trevor Allen, CMHC

Adolescent Boys Group Therapist

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Trevor Allen, CMHC

Adolescent Boys Group Therapist

THE STUDENTS TREVOR WORKS WITH HAVE A HISTORY OF:

Attachment Disruption
Grief / Loss
Trauma
Struggling w/ Identity Formation
Adoption
Depression
Anxiety
Substance Use

Professional Experience

Clinical Mental Health Counselor
Masters of Mental Health Counseling, University of Phoenix
Bachelors of Therapeutic Recreation, Brigham Young University

Training: BRAINSPOTTING
Facilitator of: SMART Recovery
Experienced in: DBT, CBT, MIT

Primary Therapist at Outback Therapeutic Expeditions
Clinical Director at Coral Reef Academy
Therapist at Aspiro
Therapist at Summit Prep School
Field staff at Second Nature Wilderness Program
State of Utah Observation and Assessment
Internship for recreation therapy at Provo Canyon School

18 years working with troubled teens in wilderness, residential, and therapeutic boarding schools

PERSONAL APPROACH
I have a great appreciation for the role of the student and the parent. The process of change is difficult and requires the student to really get out of his or her comfort zone. Change takes a lot of courage. I’m passionate about helping a student move from a shame-based view of self to learning to forgive and love themselves. I believe that once a student can love and forgive his- or herself, this love and forgiveness starts to spread to parents and others in their lives. I also love to see a student move from being powerfully destructive at home to becoming powerfully constructive.  Our students come to us with misdirected power and often learn how to shift this power in a positive direction. These traits are present in the student with substance abuse issues, oppositional issues, anxiety, depression, etc. I love my work. I’m passionate about making a difference in the lives of the students who enter our program.

One of my most powerful tools is my well-grounded self. I know who I am. I’m solid in myself I’m not rattled by the intimidation, fear, and bizarre behavior that others put out there. I work hard to see the world from the perspective of the students and their parents. I am intentional with my work. Through my cognitive understanding, my passionate heart, and my intuitive gut, I’m able to find a balance in work. I have a great deal of experience and I believe I can see patterns quickly. I utilize evidence-based approaches of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, and a Person-Centered and time-honored approach of 12 step.  Not every approach works with every student. I’m also a huge fan of Brene Brown and her work. I work hard to link the approach with the needs of each student. One of my greatest passions in therapy is to speak to and from the heart.  I have worked in many settings — wilderness is the most therapeutic environment and modality I know.

PERSONAL INTERESTS
I love my family. I work hard to find a balance of love, boundary, responsibility, and play. I am married to an amazing woman and together we are raising 4 wonderful kids. I am in my element when we are together on an adventure. I enjoy running, rock climbing, mountain biking, and spending time in water.  I love mountains, islands, and endurance sports. My greatest value is compassion. Two of my most spiritual moments were swimming with humpback whales in Tonga and riding a horse up the steep hills in Costa Rica.

Jessica Jo Stenquist, TRS, MPA, LCSW

Adolescent Girls Group Therapist

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Jessica Jo Stenquist, TRS, MPA, LCSW

Adolescent Girls Group Therapist

THE STUDENTS JESSICA JO WORKS WITH HAVE A HISTORY OF:

Attachment Disruptions
Treatment Resistance
History of Complex Trauma
Depression
Anxiety
Substance Use
Executive Functioning Deficits
Alpha Complex

Professional Experience

Licensed Clinical Social Worker
University of Utah Master’s of Social Work
University of Utah Master’s of Public Administration
Brigham Young University B.S. Therapeutic Recreation

Business Development Partner, Heritage
Primary Therapist, Wingate Wilderness Therapy
Primary Therapist, Discovery Academy
Primary Therapist, Social Worker, & Recreational Therapist at UNI (University Neuropsychiatric Institute)
Recreation Therapist Wasatch Canyons
Recreation Therapist McKay-Dee Behavioral Health

PERSONAL APPROACH

Having a background in Therapeutic Recreation has led to a natural fit for me with the Wilderness therapy model. Allowing for and encouraging a child to venture forth and to be activated both physically and mentally allows them to open up and be naturally explorative of other options and avenues that present themselves. Letting nature do its good work allows us to gather intel and insight into what that specific child needs. These insights are often about the connection of the roots and meaning to a child’s behaviors and helps me to come alongside where the child is at understanding that behavior is not always rooted in intention; often they are not acting “badly” on purpose. Finding the workaround to each child’s counter-will trigger is something that truly brings me joy as we help them remove this obstacle they have felt was needed in their life.

Therapy is simply helping emotion do its work. The woods allow for a concentrated amount of time with this raw material of emotion and relationship is the context in which this emotion can be expressed. To help students break down how to approach what has been bogging them down, I empower them with some quick hitting successes by identifying skills they can gain mastery over. Once these are in place they are better able to find pathways to insights that will help them further their progress along the path to their growth potential. Through developing and tapping into deeper levels of attachment I am able to help support each child in their emergent process as he/she gains a sense of viability and vitality. This operationalizes the adaptive processes and helps with integrating across contexts.

Parents are a key part of this journey. By the time their child comes to the woods, most parents have tried many other avenues personally and through professionals with little to no progress. This frustration builds as they have often been told time and again “if you would do ___” or “you should’ve ________.” They fall prey to the “What Works” movement that has insisted on providing route answers to all parenting woes, and if those answers didn’t work then you are not doing it correctly. I work to help parents stop feeling dumbed down and look towards rebuilding and recognizing their natural intuition that matches the needs of their child. We work together to constantly reframe and ask what do I SEE instead of what should I DO. By expanding their concept of their child, we are able to reach new levels of their child, we are able to reach new levels of understanding to support their child through their growth journey.

PERSONAL INTEREST

I love to be constantly learning and growing. Sometimes that means seeing new places and meeting new people, and sometimes that means learning something new that might even put me outside of my comfort zone. I stay busy playing soccer, riding horses, running (half-marathons primarily but have signed up for yet a third round of torture with marathon #3), hiking, playing piano & guitar, camping, canyoneering, rock climbing, snowboarding, building things, and anything else that will get me out and about with my dog Teton. Family is very important to me and I spend a lot of time with all 10 of the very young children in my life ranging in age from 2 – 8 years old. They never cease to amaze me and make my world brighter for the role I get to play in their lives.

Scott Jones, CMHC

Adolescent Boys Group Therapist

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Scott Jones, CMHC

Adolescent Boys Group Therapist

THE STUDENTS SCOTT WORKS WITH HAVE A HISTORY OF:

Substance Use
Trauma
Oppositional Defiance
Depression
Anxiety
Attachment Disruption
Grief / Loss

Professional Experience

Clinical Mental Health Counselor
Masters of Mental Health Counseling, University of Phoenix
Duel Bachelor of Science, Psychology and Sociology, University of Utah

25 Years working with adolescents and families
AEGIS Crisis Intervention Certified Instructor
Experienced in: CBT, MIT, DBT, ACT

Program Director, Stillwater Academy
Therapist, Stillwater Academy
Creator/Director, Project IMPACT
Ropes Course/Experiential Education Facilitator, Project Adventure

PERSONAL APPROACH

I have great reverence for the process of change and growth that students and their families go through while in treatment. I approach therapy as a humble participant in that change process. I embrace the power of relationships in inviting change. With over 25 years of experience in the adolescent treatment industry, I understand that change requires risk and healing can only happen in a safe and nurturing environment. The wilderness provides the perfect milieu for this to take place. I believe that students “would if they could” and often their self-destructive behaviors come from a shame-based view of themselves. When working with a student or parent, my mantra is “don’t get stuck in the thick of thin things”. Often students and parents are so focused on the immediate “problems” that it is difficult for them to recognize a way out of the challenges they face. I take a strength based, relational approach to therapy and love helping students discover their unique strengths and “see” their inherent value, often for the first time. My approach draws from cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, dialectical behavioral therapy, mindfulness, and the 12-step model.

I have a calm and patient personality and am not easily rattled or offended. I am not threatened when a student’s behavior is oppositional or challenging and have years of experience de-escalating crisis. I am adept at seeing through a student’s defense mechanisms and using humor and kindness to gain a student’s confidence and trust. I work well with students who have co-occurring issues that come with addiction such as depression, anxiety, trauma and attachment issues. I have a passion for working with adolescents and their families and am grateful for the chance to be involved in the miracles that happen every day with those families.

PERSONAL INTERESTS

When not at work, I can often be found on the soccer pitch refereeing amateur, high school, college, semi-pro and professional soccer. I serve on the Utah State Soccer Referee Committee and love mentoring up and coming referees. I enjoy golf, running, cycling, and anything that has to do with water. I have completed several half marathons, LOTAJA and the Salt to Saint cycling events. My wonderful wife and I are the proud parents to three amazing kids, two kid-in-laws and one grandson. I love spending as much time as possible with family especially if it involves a beach!

Kjrsten Walters, MA, LMFT

Parent Support Therapist

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Kjrsten Walters, MA, LMFT

Parent Support Therapist

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Master of Arts, Marriage and Family Therapy, Amridge University

Bachelor of Science, Recreation Management and Youth Leadership, Brigham Young University

Professional Experience

Outback Therapeutic Expeditions, Parent Support Therapist

Pure Life Adventure Therapy Program, Primary Therapist

WinGate Wilderness Therapy Program, Primary Therapist

New Haven Residential Treatment Center, Clinical Director, Primary Therapist, Residential Staff

RedCliff Ascent Wilderness Therapy Program, Head Instructor, Field Guide

CLAS Ropes Course, Facilitator

PERSONAL APPROACH

I love adventure. I love the unexpected growth, challenge, joy, beauty, pain and creativity that springs from entering into an unknown experience. Throughout my career I have come to appreciate and love supporting parents as they navigate the challenging experience of a struggling child. I work to give parents tools and support to help them approach their experience as an adventure that hopefully can bring growth, challenge, joy, beauty, pain and creativity.

My therapeutic style is experiential, collaborative and simple. I seek to create teaching experiences that help people learn ways to overcome, embrace or accept the challenges they face. I strive to find ways for others to discover their own solutions that work in their lives.

PERSONAL INTERESTS

I love being outdoors, traveling, adventuring, experiencing the world. I love music, art, nature, literature. And now, as a mother of three girls, I love being with my family and experiencing the world together. Sometimes I enjoy pushing my body with challenges like rock climbing, triathlons, hiking, rafting. Sometimes I enjoy sitting and watching the sunrise or sunset. And staring into a fire. I feel like a citizen of the world and enjoy travel and getting to know different parts of the world.

FULL Clinical Team

MEET OUR CLINICAL TEAM

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FULL Clinical Team

MEET OUR CLINICAL TEAM

Professional Experience

PRIMARY THERAPISTS

ASSOCIATE FIELD THERAPISTS

FAMILY THERAPISTS

DOGS IN L.I.F.E.

Jessie Brunelle, MSW, LCSW

Clinical Services Specialist: Associate Therapist Recruiter/Trainer

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Jessie Brunelle, MSW, LCSW

Clinical Services Specialist: Associate Therapist Recruiter/Trainer

Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Masters of Social Work, Boise State University
Bachelors of Social Work, William Woods University

Professional Experience

Certified in Attachment Focused Therapy
Extended Training in Acceptance & Commitment Therapy

Primary Therapist at Cherry Gulch Therapeutic Boarding School
Field Therapist with Outback Therapeutic Expeditions
Medical Social Worker, St. Luke’s Health System
Graduate Intern, Medical Clinic - working w/ Geriatric & Palliative Care
Community Based Rehabilitation Specialist, Mental Health Program - focused on children
Undergraduate Intern, Correctional Facility - working w/ Male Substance Abuse

PERSONAL APPROACH

I think as human beings, we long for connection and belonging. Our experiences and the meaning we give to our experiences influence our attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, and relationships. I wholeheartedly believe in the therapeutic power of nature. As a teenager and young adult, my personal journey and struggles with mental health led me to seek relief in the outdoors. Nature has many gifts it gives to us, and it helps us mindfully reconnect with ourselves. Our bodies communicate with us and learning how to reconnect the mind and body is and essential part of the therapeutic process. The most rewarding moments I have had with students have occurred in the wilderness or while working with animals, especially horses. I have a passion for equine-assisted psychotherapy and have incorporated horses into individual, group, and family work in the past.

I describe my personal therapeutic approach as eclectic and draw from many theoretical approaches including Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), psychodynamic, narrative, person-centered, and solution-focused therapy. I am certified in Attachment-Focused Therapy and have extended training in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. I believe in strengths-based perspective, and am inspired by the resiliency of students. I have experience working with students who navigate challenges with mood disorders such as anxiety and depression, executive functioning deficits, substance use and addiction, attachment, trauma, and conflict in relationships. I see the therapeutic relationship as being the most important aspect of therapy. As such, I strive to create strong connections with my students and families through a curious, supportive, and nonjudgmental manner.

PERSONAL INTEREST

I am a proud Idaho native, and on my down time I enjoy spending time in the outdoors. You can usually find me rock climbing, bouldering, or mountain biking. I also enjoy hiking, white-water rafting, backpacking, and camping. My family is very important to me, and loving the teaching, playing, and exploring I get to experience in my new role as an aunt. I also enjoy running, yoga, and am attempting to learn how to play the ukulele. I enjoy brewing my own kombucha, pickling vegetables, and trying new recipes. I love animals and grew up riding and showing horses. My quirky and frisbee-loving dog, Leela, can also be found following at my heels on various adventures. Those close to me would describe me as fun-loving, compassionate, caring, humorous, and courageous.

Tracy Hopkins, MSW, LCSWA

Director of Business Development | Inclusion & Belonging Specialist

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Tracy Hopkins, MSW, LCSWA

Director of Business Development | Inclusion & Belonging Specialist

Masters of Social Work, Western Carolina University
BS, Southern Illinois University

Professional Experience

Director of Business Development –Outback Therapeutic Expeditions
Founder/Change Agent – Dare to Rise
Clinical Intern – Solstice East
Clinical Intern – Helpmate: Domestic Violence Shelter
Outreach Director – Open Sky Wilderness
Admissions/Marketing Director – InnerChange
Admissions Director / Operations Director – CRC Health Group
Program Manager – Four Corners School of Outdoor Education
Basecamp Manager / Field & Unity Project Instructor / Diversity Trainer – North Carolina Outward Bound School
Wilderness Field Instructor – Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness
Assistant Dorm Parent – Brehm Preparatory School

Personal Approach

My love and appreciation for the power of wilderness began in 1998 during my first backpacking course through the Wilderness Education Association.  The stillness and calming effects of time spent outside and working with a group of humans who relied and encouraged one another made a lasting impression that ultimately led me to where I am today.  My opportunities as a direct care staff in wilderness and residential settings, coupled with leadership roles in human resources, programming, marketing, and admissions departments in private pay and non-profit sectors, have allowed me to gain a wealth of experience and enhanced my pursuit for interconnection.

Throughout my career, my personal approach has been shaped by my fascination of human behavior, the extraordinary capacity of human connections, and the courageous journeys individuals embark upon to dig deep, lean in, and tap into their full potential.   My hope is to create platforms and opportunities that invite people to identify their own values in order to discover their purpose and meaning, acknowledge their authentic self, and become agents of change.

Personal Interests

I hold a vested interested in the support and advocacy of individuals who fall within marginalized and vulnerable populations. What rests within my core is an insatiable passion for the advocacy of female empowerment and multicultural awareness initiatives, which has led me to facilitating workshops, presentations, panel discussions, and process groups centering on such issues.  I am a lover of arts, specifically of musicals and poetry slams, given the incredible way it can take us out of our day-to-day routines and foster the wonders of unlimited possibilities through imagination and play.  My favorite personal interest would have to be my loved ones.  No matter the distance, age, or length of relationship, they continue to push me to grow, to think critically and challenge status quo, and to celebrate all the parts of me that make me who I am.

Theresa Wardle, MSW, LCSW

Admissions Director

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Theresa Wardle, MSW, LCSW

Admissions Director

Masters in Social Work – Walla Walla College
Bachelors in Social Work – University of Montana
23+ years working with adolescents in therapeutic settings

Professional Experience

Boulder Creek Academy, Director of Admissions
Northwest Academy, Clinical Director/Therapist
CPS - On Call Crisis Counselor (Child Welfare / Placement Needs)
Wardle Home - Owner / Private Therapeutic Adolescent Girls Home
Idaho Educational Services - Therapist
Child Care Counselor - Missoula Youth Homes Crisis Shelter for Adolescents
YWCA - Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Crisis Counselor
YWCA - Facilitator for programs supporting women's independence

PERSONAL APPROACH

I am honored and humbled to be able to assist parents at the beginning of their wilderness therapy journey. While I personally have witnessed the amazing “gift” of outdoor programs in my twenty plus years as an adolescent therapist, I still can only imagine the task parents face in determining how best to help their child. (Thus, I tend to look at each child’s unique challenges and strengths through the lens of a clinician and a parent myself.) For this reason, I want to share as much information about Outback as possible so that families feel confident in choosing our wonderful program and staff. I love instilling hope in the future and providing a glimpse of all that will be gained in the areas of their child’s self-worth and self-awareness, the healing of family relationships and education/training for parents, understanding and practicing healthy friendships, learning positive coping skills, and most importantly developing a plan for the future and motivating teens to continue their progress long after Outback. Though the child is the one benefiting from their direct experiences in the field, I believe the support, education and training for the family (or parents) is equally as important – starting with understanding all the aspects to Outback. I appreciate being able to use my life experiences, parenting experiences and professional experiences to support parents as they make possibly one of the most challenging decisions to help their child.

PERSONAL INTEREST

Growing up in a tight knit family as the third oldest of nine children, I tend to thrive on personal connections and relationships. My husband and I with our three children (12 year old twins and a 17 year old), live on a little bit of acreage with three dogs, two cats, two pygmy goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits, doves and quails. Amidst our busy schedules, we enjoy spending time in the beautiful outdoors in all four seasons. I have loved downhill skiing, photography and most importantly visiting with family and friends. Though I’ve given up my “thrill seeking” activities like bungee jumping and sky diving as I’ve grown older, I still seem to meet my need for excitement by balancing a very busy life and fitting everything into only 24 hours in a day.  My goals are to return to carving out time for my own personal fitness so I may stay healthy for many years to come.

 

Aries M. McGinnis, MA, ACMHC

Admissions Counselor

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Aries M. McGinnis, MA, ACMHC

Admissions Counselor

Masters of Counseling Psychology, Immaculata University
Bachelors of Liberal Studies, Neumann University
Fifteen Years Counseling Experience and Eight Years Wilderness Experience
Worked as Program Director, Field Director, and 300 Field Days as Field Staff with Outback
Board of Director, Village Chief, and Camp Counseling with Camp Dreamcatcher
Intern Therapist with Central Montgomery MH / MR Center
Supply Chain Management, Southco, Inc

Professional Experience

PERSONAL APPROACH

I have had the privilege of being in a family structure that loves unconditionally, holds strong boundaries, teaches work ethic and integrity, and embraces the uniqueness of each person.  As I began looking at wilderness programs, the family component at Outback immediately spoke to my heart.  A fundamental belief at Outback is that the success of the student is intricately and deeply connected to the health of the family system. While working with students as a Primary Therapist at Outback, I helped them work through the process of engagement, healing, reconnecting, and growing. My initial approach was to see the student for who they were: what was great about them. Our students all have greatness and I worked to help them see that their behaviors did not define them. As we pulled apart maladaptive behaviors from the individual, I helped students become actively engaged in their own therapeutic process. When students are engaged, we can begin the work of healing for them and their family as they review past experiences and begin to learn a healthy manner of handling their clinical challenges. As the healing continues, reconnection of the family begins. I firmly believe that my experience as a Primary Therapist, Program Director and Family Therapist have all provided me with a unique and well-rounded understanding of how to serve as a grounding support system for parents and family members throughout the admissions process.

PERSONAL INTEREST

I am an East Coast native and will always cherish my roots. I make it back to Philly multiple times a year and I have yet to lose my accent even after being in Utah for years. While my roots are my family back east, my soul is in the mountains. I came to Utah for two reasons: wilderness therapy and the mountains. There is a peace that fills my heart as I look to the mountains each morning. I am an outdoor enthusiast with skiing, mountain biking, and hiking as some of my favorite activities. I would rather be camping in a remote area than wander in the city. I also enjoy adrenaline sports and have enjoyed such adventures as sky-diving, hang-gliding, white water rapids, and bungee jumping. Along with a sense of adventure, I have a deep need to explore the world and love to travel. I have made my way to Europe, Asia, and all over the USA. I have found that my sense of adventure, my love of the outdoors, and my deep connection with my family and roots has helped me form strong connections with my students.

Daniel Hazen

Program Director

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Daniel Hazen

Program Director

Bio Coming Soon

Professional Experience

Jessica Smith

Field Guide Recruiter

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Jessica Smith

Field Guide Recruiter

Professional Experience

Over 5 years with Outback Therapeutic Expeditions with 3 years as a field guide
Admissions Counselor, Outback Therapeutic Expeditions
Senior Field Guide and Trainer, Outback Therapeutic Expeditions
Senior Field Guide and Trainer, Wingate Wilderness
Mentor, Discovery Academy

PERSONAL APPROACH
Having worked in the field closely with students, I understand what it takes to mentor and guide youth into unfamiliar emotional and mental territories. I look for staff who will add to our incredible list of Field Guides. I find those who are engaged and invested in the wilderness experience which will ultimately invite our students to find ways of healthy healing. I focus on making clear, the philosophy of Outback and the deep interconnection of the field department, clinical department, and the families we serve so that students can have that one of a kind adventure in growth and empowerment.

PERSONAL INTEREST
I am the mother of three fantastic kids, one of which has brought us officially into the teenage years. I still love to hike and camp and be outdoors. I enjoy trying anything creative and hands on. I love working with wood and making furniture and wooden pendants. I also enjoy reading classic novels and continuing to add to my personal library as well as writing and telling stories. I have lived and traveled all over the country and have been to over 40 US states! I hope to someday finish writing my own book and share my stories with others.

Pete Allerd, BS

Academic Coordinator

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Pete Allerd, BS

Academic Coordinator

B.S. in Composite Physical Science Teaching

Professional Experience

Over 200 trail days at Outback
6+ years teaching - Utah High Schools



PERSONAL APPROACH
I love education more than I love schooling and that is one of the best things about being a part of the Outback team. At Outback, I have noticed that students learn in a natural, curious way surrounded by the beauty of nature rather than being cooped up in a classroom surrounded by distractions and schedules. It is my sincere wish that every young person could experience the transformative power of nature the way participants at Outback do. I love watching youths come alive and develop the attributes needed to become productive adults, such as confidence, resilience, and improved communication and relationships.

PERSONAL INTEREST
I love adventures of all kinds, especially in the great outdoors! I have been to the top of some of the highest mountains and to the bottom of some of the deepest caves. I have taken my mountain bike over iconic trails and my packraft over iconic waterways. I am an enthusiastic ping-pong player. I love playing strategy board games. I am unabashedly ingrained in “nerd culture”, with a special affinity for Lord of the Rings and Avatar the Last Airbender. I love solving clues and puzzles, especially in escape rooms and with treasure hunts. I love reading books and discussing important ideas. I conscientiously strive to “be the change” I hope to see in the world.

Rich Rice

Logistics Director

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Rich Rice

Logistics Director

Professional Experience

PCS instructor (crisis intervention)
PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer
Small business Owner

I have been with Outback since 2004 starting as a part-time transporter doing the intakes for new students into the program. That was my introduction into Wilderness Therapy. Seeing the progress of thousands of young people has had a lasting impression in my life and made a difference in the way I helped in the raising of my four children.

I am an avid scuba diver and have spent thousands of hours under water enjoying the splendor of the seas. I enjoy big game hunting for deer and elk in Utah’s wonderful mountains. I very much enjoy learning the process of and building anything. Ranging from learning to rub sticks together to make fire, to installing 10 kilowatts of solar panels on my house, or building a wood fired pizza oven in my back yard and perfecting the pizza.

Farrah Holt, NREMT

Medical Coordinator

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Farrah Holt, NREMT

Medical Coordinator

Bio Coming Soon

Professional Experience

Dale Christensen, MD

Medical Director

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Dale Christensen, MD

Medical Director

MD, University of Utah
BS, Zoology Cum Laude from BYU

Professional Experience

Emergency Medicine Residency, Maricopa Medical Center, Phoenix AZ
Emergency Physician, Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, Level II Trauma Center (15 years)
Emily Rowe, aPHR

HR Generalist | Office Manager

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Emily Rowe, aPHR

HR Generalist | Office Manager

Bachelor’s Degree, Utah State University


Professional Experience

5 Years working in HR
Wasatch Mental Health, HR Specialist
Alliance Health, HR Assistant
Utah State University, Communication Studies Intern

PERSONAL APPROACH
I made the decision to work in Human Resources because I love learning about people, organizational communication, and being able to problem solve on a daily basis. While every company has an HR department, I find it very meaningful to work in an environment where lives are changed and families are brought together. I strive to make valuable ‘human’ connections and to use my ‘resources’ to help serve both our employees and students. I believe that it’s the small changes that make a world of difference and as a team we can move mountains!

PERSONAL INTEREST
I am a bookworm at heart with a spirit for adventure. I actively participate in a book club which members can opt in to travel places where the books’ setting takes place. My most recent venture took me abroad to Italy and Spain with plans to pursue India next year. During summer months, I enjoy spending my time at the pool where I teach private swim lessons to youth of all ages. I currently serve as Treasurer on my Home Owners Association Board to remain involved with my community. I like to spend quality time with neighbors, friends, and family.

Crystal Cornia

Administrative Assistant

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Crystal Cornia

Administrative Assistant

Professional Experience

Administrative Assistant, Outback Therapeutic Expeditions
Loan Servicing Specialist, Centreville Bank
Assistant Manager, Cinemark

PERSONAL APPROACH
I have always wanted a career doing something fulfilling, something where I could feel like I was truly making a difference. I have found that with Outback. In every team there are many different roles and each role is essential whether you are working directly with the students out in the field or behind a desk in the office. As part of the office team, I strive each day to create an atmosphere that is uplifting and comfortable. I believe that small acts of kindness make a huge impact and that a smile goes a long way. I want every interaction I have to leave that individual feeling heard and cared for. One of my favorite things about what I do is being part of an essential piece of communication between students and their parents through uploading pictures and letters each week. We have a common goal here at Outback and that is to see these young individuals succeed and I am so blessed to be a part of that!

PERSONAL INTEREST
I have always known my loved ones were the most important thing to me. After having lived far away from them for several years, I grew to appreciate them even more. I spend almost all of my free time with my loved ones doing activities including anything from jet skiing to local activities such as the state fair to simply going out to dinner and a movie. I love celebrating all of the holidays and the fun events and activities that come with them. I especially love Halloween and going to haunted houses and corn mazes. I have a huge heart for all animals and volunteered for an animal shelter for a year taking care of cats.

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COVID-19 Update

Outback Therapeutic Expeditions is continuing to support families through this unprecedented time. We are closely monitoring information related to COVID-19, adhering to recommendations set forth by CDC, and have implemented additional safety precautions to mitigate risks. To learn more, contact us at 800-817-1899.