You may be wondering what qualifies me to guide you in the process of building a powerful life?
Red Cedar Transitions? A good place to start is 1991. That’s when I made (or “busted,” to use the parlance of wilderness therapy) my first bowdrill fire… and the wood that I used was Eastern Red Cedar.
That experience in the pine barrens of New Jersey would become a catalyst for a transition of my own as a young man of 20 years old; one that would take me out west and eventually into wilderness therapy for the next 27 years of my life.
As I considered moving east (to Asheville) to start a young adult transition program, I thought back to that seminal experience 27 years ago and how it had shaped the trajectory of my life. Moving back east was somewhat of a full circle experience--back to the land of the Eastern Red Cedar--where my journey began. Thus, the name Red Cedar Transitions has a heartfelt appropriateness.
As I moved west, wilderness became the foundation of both my personal and professional lives. Having come from a family in which addiction (and the systemic turbulence that comes with addiction) was rampant, wilderness became a needed refuge in which I could find both the solace and challenge that would lead to healing and growth that I so implicitly craved.
In the mid-1990s, after going through the Boulder Outdoor Survival School (BOSS) as both a student and an intern, I became a BOSS field instructor. I had experienced the healing and growth that wilderness experiences had brought to my life personally to this point, but being a BOSS field instructor made it abundantly clear that the transformative nature of wilderness was not specific to just me. While BOSS was not explicitly therapeutic, the changes that students made over the course of their wilderness experiences were undeniable.
In 1998 I began work as a field staff at Aspen Achievement Academy (AAA), working with adolescents in a therapeutic wilderness setting. It became quickly apparent that these struggling teens were not that unlike me as a teenager. I could relate. This ability to relate to the struggles of the teens and young adults that I would go on to work with became foundational to my work as a field staff, transitional coach, wilderness therapist, and, now, life coach and psychotherapist. I worked at AAA as a field staff on-and-off for the next ten years, amassing over 1,000 days in the field. In 2008, I began working as a transition coach - helping and supporting adolescents and young adults who were trying to make the transition from wilderness back to a “front country” setting (i.e., home, school, college, etc.). As I worked as a transition coach, I went to college and obtained my Bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah and Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health from Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah. I'm a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LCMHC) in the state of North Carolina. I'm also a certified ACT & Prosocial Matrix facilitator. I recently completed an MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy program through the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) and am currently enrolled in a Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy certification program through the Integrative Psychiatry Institute (IPI). With a deep belief in the potential of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, I look forward to being a part of the next significant step in the evolution of psychotherapy.
It was during this time, also, that I immersed myself in a Zen Buddhist community (sangha) for two years. Meditation and mindfulness practices continue to deeply inform my work with clients. During the last year of my Master’s program, I worked at the University of Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI), working with the chronically and profoundly mentally ill.
After five years of living and working in front country settings, it was time for me to get back to the wilderness, and in 2013 I began working as a psychotherapist at Evoke Therapy Programs as a wilderness therapist.
For the next several years, I built a reputation as a young adult therapist who specializes in assisting clients to access motivation believed by many (including clients themselves) to have been irretrievably lost to anxiety, depression, substance use, and/or trauma.
After many years in the wilderness therapy industry, witnessing hundreds of clients make the transition out of the wilderness to various front country settings, I began to consider the idea of combining my experience as a transition coach with my experience as a wilderness therapist (both predicated on my long tenure as a wilderness field staff).
After many conversations with long-time industry friends and professionals, Red Cedar Transitions (RCT) was born.