Wilderness Family Therapy and Youth Mentoring

We create strong transitions for families and youth

We have two main service offerings:

Wilderness Family Therapy

For Families

THREE DAY “FAMILY EXPEDITION”

when 55-minute sessions aren’t cutting it

Three-day family therapy car-camping trips in beautiful northern Oregon

Spending three days with your entire family, without distractions, will help your family get to the bottom of unhealthy patterns and come away with confidence and connection. Granite Bridges uses an evidence-based curriculum to teach new relationship strategies and a common language. This helps families get on the same page and allows them to make mistakes in a safe space, rather than reverting to their status quo patterns upon returning home. 

portland youth mentoring

For Youth

COMMUNITY-BASED MENTORING

a strong, steady, innovative alternative to therapy

One-on-one mentoring for teens and young adults in Portland, Oregon

Transitions can be difficult. We help young people transitioning from treatment to home or from home to independence. We help prevent relapse after treatment programs and help young adults who are “failing to launch” into independent lives. We meet in the community, not in an office. Our activity-centered approach engages youth that dislike sitting face to face answering questions.

Does your family fight frequently? Do you struggle to connect and end up isolating? Have you tried numerous parenting strategies with no luck? Do you have a difficult child?

You’re not alone.

Granite Bridges can work with you if your family:

  • has difficulty communicating and connecting

  • fights frequently or isolates separately

  • is struggling with a manipulative teen

  • has a young adult who is failing to “launch” and live independently

  • has a young person recovering from addictions

  • needs help with parenting

  • has a history of weak boundaries and over-indulgent parenting or if you struggle to balance flexibility/love with structure/boundaries

  • has done office-based family therapies and found the work to be too sporadic and superficial for lasting change

  • would like to do work outside with less distractions or who want to do more intense work quickly

  • is considering treatment, has just finished treatment, or if your child is transferring to an aftercare placement

  • needs facilitation to say what they need to say (some families need more time and space to open up)

  • has another transition they need assistance navigating

  • needs help with a comprehensive home-contract

  • has kids over the age of 10 who can tolerate longer therapy sessions and can have insight into their behaviors and emotions

55-Minutes Isn’t Enough

That feeling when you’re just getting started and the session ends?

you won’t feel that here

Over the course of three days, we will be "in session" doing family therapy for over 20 hours. Being together in a simple environment without the banal distractions of our digital lives helps the work to progress swiftly. Some sessions will be 3-5 hours long. When needed, we talk until everybody truly feels resolved or complete about that topic.

There’s a lot to cover! We have learned from experience what works best to focus on. With the curriculum developed by Granite Bridges, we will accomplish more in three days than some families accomplish in six months of weekly family therapy sessions.

Understanding

We’ve heard your stories

You can expect to feel empowered and validated

We intimately understand families’ struggles raising kids these days. It’s different than when most parents were raised. We’re here to help bridge that gap. After guiding over 150 three-day family therapy trips, we’ve learned the reasons why families best intentions can sometimes not be realized. We also understand the confusing and overwhelming experience families can have trying to coordinate treatment for their struggling children and for the whole family. We understand the ups and downs of treatment. We’ve helped hundreds of families navigate working with Educational Consultants, Therapeutic Boarding Schools, and Residential Treatment Programs.

Family expeditions are highly effective for a family with moderate problems who want help solving them before more expensive higher levels of care are required. Most families, however, have used Family Expeditions to bridge the gap from home life to and from treatment placements to prevent relapse. Either way, Granite Bridges is committed to creating strong and healthy family systems. Using an evidence-based curriculum backed by 30 years of research, we quickly get to the bottom of difficult family dynamics.  

This is what we do

Family Therapy can be vulnerable. It can be scary.

We’ll show you how

We feel it is a great privilege to work with your family. We don’t take that lightly. Before your Expedition, expect to have a phone call with your Family Expedition therapist so we can understand the family’s history, any Mental Health diagnoses, goals, fears, strengths, and weaknesses. We would also like to speak to any of your existing therapists or providers so we can get a clear picture of your family. Before you arrive, you will be assigned therapeutic “homework” to complete so we can hit the ground running and have an outline to work with during our three days together.

 There’s no “problem child” here

This is a family, everyone shares in it’s success

Everyone contributes to its dysfunction

We refuse to work only with the adolescent or young adult who is “at risk” or “problematic.” We use family systems theory which states that any individual’s dysfunction is a symptom of the dysfunction in the family system. In other words, everyone shares responsibility, even the “good” child. Our sessions tend to shine a spotlight on everyone. Everybody gets a turn in the “hot seat.” We won’t let it get too intense and we don’t over-focus on one person. The goal is to have everyone walk away with an understanding of how they themselves contribute to the dysfunction in the family dynamic. To cement that knowledge, we will send you home with a comprehensive home contract to help guide your family in the future.

Open, spacious, simple, room to grow

there's a reason we do our work outdoors:

Because wilderness is healing, it’s therapy for the soul

The Promised Land always lies on the other side of a Wilderness.
— Havelock Ellis
Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit.
— Edward Abbey

You will camp, close to our vehicle, with your family for two nights. We sit in session often. These sessions are punctuated by day-hikes, therapeutic initiatives, crafts, games, cooking, eating, camp chores, and sleep. We have learned how optimize these trips for the most therapeutic growth.

Your therapist/facilitator will skillfully guide your family and witness your dynamic as you cook, clean, set up camp, play games, and engage in daily routines. This provides much more perspective than an office-based therapist could ever gain. Nobody can keep up a “show” for more than a few hours, especially in a new element, learning new skills, while being challenged by a new environment. Because of all the “in-between” natural moments we uniquely see in the wilderness, your therapist will quickly and clearly identify common patterns and call attention to the family’s "blind spots.” The wilderness is simply the best assessment tool we have found for understanding what makes a family tick.

Raw, wild, nature

experienced with your family

We are permitted to operate in several beautiful BLM, national forest, and private land sites in northern Oregon. We will go to the site best suited for the weather. We have green mossy sites west of the Cascade Mountains, and high-desert sites on the east side. We do not use public camp grounds. We aim to have a wilderness experience, even though we are car camping. Seeing other people affects the experience; we strive to be alone with nature so your family can relax into their spontaneous, true selves. Because we are not backpacking into the wilderness, it sometimes mean we have to drive on rough roads to get away from other people. Depending on your family size you may need to rent or drive your own SUV.

Taking a break from Wilderness Family Therapy
siblings re-connecting outside after therapy
solo reflection time after family therapy
therapeutic family hiking
family hug after therapy session

Focus on what’s important

Dutch oven meals, firelight circles, sessions at sunset, s’mores & hot tea

We ensure you will be comfortable so the emotional work can be done. The rustic setting helps families’ slow down and focus on each other. We camp 100 yards from the vehicle. Our gear is simple but comfortable. We limit the techie gear and try to use more natural materials. We find this relaxes the mind and keeps us in the moment. We provide all the gear except your clothing and toiletries.

Don’t stress a thing, we’ll help you feel comfortable

We have a variety of activities that help us assess and understand your family. The wilderness gives us unique opportunities to learn in-the-moment as your facilitator gives feedback and psycho-education to each family member. The experience will be difficult at times, but we ensure the family experiences success and builds positive memories for the future. To keep the balance, we won't forget to have FUN!

setting-up-tent for family camping
morning coffee with family
hot breakfast with family
download (29).jpeg
camp chores with family
crafts--spoons carved during therapy session by one family
expertly catered food by therapy guides

Services Offered

Our family expeditions can be used for several family situations:

Early Care

Preemptive Wilderness Family Expedition: Three days of course correction and family connection. Families with mild to moderate issues may find this intervention life-changing and may potentially avoid more expensive treatment. Families may find this trip sufficient, but if needed, we can help the family decide what further treatment may be helpful.

Aftercare

Wilderness Family Expedition: Your family’s status quo patterns are difficult to resist returning to after treatment. Rather than risk relapse, our three-day car camping expeditions are focused on cementing the hard work each family member did separately. This is intensive family work used between wilderness and boarding school, or when coming home from treatment. Many have found this intervention crucial to transitioning home.

Alumni 

Alumni Family Expedition: Were you or your loved one in treatment over a year ago? Would your family like a “touch up” or reminder of what you learned in treatment? Granite Bridges offers custom expeditions for Wilderness or TBS or RTC alumni families.

Logistics & Pricing

  • All of our three day Family Expeditions cost $1800 all-inclusive

  • Includes: pre-expedition phone call, calls to family’s existing providers, food for three days, use of sleeping and cooking gear, all therapy sessions, and craft supplies. 

  • Transportation may be in a Granite Bridges vehicle, or the family may need to rent an SUV and meet staff before driving to the field area. Drive time from Portland to our therapy site could be up to 3.5 hours. 

  • Families who don’t live in Portland should plan on flying into Portland the night before the first day of the expedition, sleeping in a hotel, and meeting at 9AM to begin the expedition. You can plan to be back to Portland and free to fly out or stay a night in Portland by 6:00PM on the third day. 

Alternative offerings

  • If you want to keep using your family’s primary therapists at home, consider using this family expedition as an assessment tool. We can learn more about your family than your office therapist can understand due to the constraints of 55 minute office therapy. We will coordinate with your primary therapist to pass on the assessment and recommendations afterwards.

  • We are open to working with requests for other activities, including backpacking or other low risk adventures. 

  • Granite Bridges is a enthusiastic advocate of alternative therapeutic offerings. We have done Family Expeditions in rustic cabins and in families’ homes. We are open to non-car-camping Expeditions if your family has mobility limitations, or want extra adventure. Adventure trips are typical contracted through other outfitters at an additional cost—river-rafting anyone? 

  • Facilitated family vacations. Imagine an international family vacation that didn’t unravel in tense fighting, stonewalling, and dissatisfaction. Having a facilitated, safe therapeutic container not only allows you to get emotional work done, it also helps your trip go smoothly and ensures an positive experience. 

  • Please contact us to discuss customized, alternative offerings and potential pricing. Granite Bridges can facilitate many trips in-house, but if your family is interested in river trips or higher risk activities, we contract with https://breakwaterexp.com/family-adventures/ to provide programming in Yellowstone, the San Juan Islands, the Yukon river, Green River UT, the upper Missouri River, Prince William Sound, the Everglades and the Bahamas.