experienced leadership and quality care
leading wilderness therapy programs
Blue Ridge was established in 2002 by owner and founder Dan McDougal. As a former wilderness Field Instructor, and later a Program Director, Dan distinguished several elements of programming that he believed could fortify and increase student and family success throughout their wilderness journey and beyond. While these elements didn’t widely exist at the time, many of them are now fundamental components of most therapeutic wilderness programs today.
At the time of Blue Ridge’s genesis, there was very little variation in the experience for most adolescents and young adults. There was a clear need for a more individualized therapeutic approach where the experience was tailored to each student. Today, Blue Ridge Wilderness is proud to have blazed the trail in the efforts to assess and treat students on an individualized and family-systems basis, where the needs and backgrounds of each person are considered during every step of the process.
Blue Ridge owner and founder, Dan McDougal recognized a disconnection and lack of integration between many field and clinical teams. He realized that wilderness therapy would be most effective when all departments operated on the same plane. This way, field teams could better reinforce the clinical objectives- and therapists could better use resources like the field team and the wilderness itself to support each student’s specific treatment goals. At Blue Ridge, field instructors and therapists work together closely, showing up for each student as a united front and providing clients with the consistency and support that’s vital to each individual’s journey during such a vulnerable time in their life.
A third unique component Dan implemented was a level of care and nurturing that was unpopular at the time. This required a shift in programming and organizational culture which ensured greater comfort to clients. Since the wilderness already presents certain challenges that inherently allow students to develop resiliency, self-efficacy and confidence, this higher level of care given to clients would better support them in focusing on their therapeutic goals. Blue Ridge’s program elements and staff provide clients with support and compassion during their stay to help them stay on track in their therapeutic work.
We believe that each individual is inherently lovable, worthy and powerful. Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness is a place where students can safely experience discovery, transformation and compassion. Our goal in treating each client is to provide them the resources necessary for them to evaluate and live within their values and, ultimately, to thrive within themselves and their family unit.