Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness            Celebrates One Year!

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

This week we are celebrating one year as Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness! So much has changed in the last year and we are thrilled to share our evolution and growth. We are proud to continually serve and support families with a primary goal of setting up students and families on their path to healing and helping teens to reconnect with the best version of themselves.

What hasn’t changed? The direct experience of pure wilderness and the distraction free environment helps to facilitate extraordinary change and healing in our students. Wilderness is the foundation for which therapy flourishes. We offer the highest level of clinically integrated and individualized programming by employing dynamic therapists and tenured field staff who are known for their contribution to wilderness therapy. We continue to build an incredibly influential clinical team focusing on talented and skilled therapists who deeply understand how to work with struggling adolescents and who also excel at connecting with families and Educational Consultants in order to provide incredible customer service.

Last July, Executive Director, Dan McDougal made the announcement that Second Nature Blue Ridge would be operating independently and transitioning into the more focused and evolved Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness. Many people in the industry experienced a range of reactions; some were surprised and curious, while others shared their encouragement and excitement surrounding the experience of BRTW.  We are proud to share that one year later, Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness has served over 120 families, attracted 5 very talented therapists who align with our vision and mission, added to and strengthened our leadership team, and made countless program enhancements.

As part of our commitment to creating a healthy culture, team, and evolved programming we have added:

  • Family Services Curriculum spearheaded by Ashley Green, LCSW, who supports and guides parents through an individual and family change process that parallels student’s growth in the program and is integrated with the student’s experience.
  • Strengthened Early Clinical Assessment administered by Lorena Bradley, Ph.D. Reinforcing the intake assessment process early in a student’s stay results in stronger case conceptualization, more tailored treatment, and clearer goals established for discharge planning.
  • Holistic Programming focusing on mind, body, and spirit, with an emphasis on nutrition, physical exercise, and mindfulness. Our Health and Wellness Director, Shay Woerner, has developed nutritious and balanced menus and we resupply our groups twice a week with locally grown, seasonal produce and meat and cheese from a local farm-to-table purveyor.
  • Female Gender-Focused Curriculum: Christine Riley, LMFT, Emily Miranda, LCSW, & Dan McDougal are putting the finishing touches on this first-ever specialized program and will be launching it in the next few months.
  • Increased training and career growth for our field staff through a new 12 part curriculum covering aspects of clinical education.
  • Co-occurring mental health and substance abuse treatment for adolescent boys, with the addition of Primary Therapist, Mathew O’Connor, MA, LCAS

As we reflect back on the last full year as Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness, we celebrate our successes and consider the many lessons while setting goals for our future. This last year was about transition, reflection and adjustments that reestablished a healthy and strong foundation. We continue to build upon our 15 years of effective and individualized programs, dedicated staff, and excellent safety record. Blue Ridge provides a safe environment for struggling adolescents to begin the healing process, tap into the core of what has brought them to us, and equip them with new and healthy coping skills to continue practicing and integrating into their lives. Our skilled team does this by harnessing the power of nature in combination with evidence-based therapeutic approaches, positive peer relationships, and freedom from the distractions of everyday life. 

Thank you for your ongoing support and loyalty over the years.

The Team 

The people at Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness are what makes us great.


Dan McDougal, who has been in the wilderness therapy industry for over 20 years, is our Founder and Executive Director.


Jason York returned to Blue Ridge last fall as Admissions Director and Managing Director. He is passionate about supporting families on the front end of their therapeutic journey.

Dave Brannan

Dave Brannan utilizes his experience as a Field Instructor and Parent Coordinator to serve families in crisis as part of the Admissions team.


Danielle Hava joined the team in the Spring as Director of Business Development and continues to strengthen our referral relationships.


Jeff Scott is our Clinical Director and works with adolescent boys, ages 14-18. Jeff is in his 15th year as a Blue Ridge therapist.


Christine Riley has been an adolescent girls therapist at Blue Ridge for the last 3 years and is working on our first-ever girls programming.



Emily Miranda joined BR in January and works with adolescent girls, ages 14-18. She specializes in gender and sexual identity issues.


Anne Wilzbacher works with adolescent boys ages, 14-18 and has a passion for group work and family dynamics.

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Jeremy Nunnelley joined the team in May and is the Primary Therapist for Footsteps, our co-ed middle school group.


Matt O’Connor, specializes in co-occurring mental health and substance abuse and works with adolescent boys, ages 14-18.

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Ashley Green has developed our Family Services curriculum and guides parents through an individual and family change process that parallels student’s growth in the program.


Brant Evans, who had been field staff at BR, completed his Masters in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University and recently returned to BR to manage our field team and focus on culture.


Abi Miner was promoted to Field Director after almost 10 years working as field staff at Blue Ridge. She is highly respected by her peers.

Shay Woerner

Shay Woerner has revamped our nutrition and the food our students eats. She has a certification in Holistic Nutrition and focuses on the mind-body connection.

sarah woerner

Sarah Woerner, our Parent Coordinator, provides a sense of trust and safety to parents while their child is at Blue Ridge.


Vanessa Allen, who has been with BR for over 5 years, was recently promoted to Director of Operations and Administration and oversees all daily operations at the company.


Recent Posts

Blue Ridge operates with the same guiding principles it was founded on. Safety is, and has always been, the number one priority while offering the highest level of customer service and clinical expertise available in a wilderness therapy setting.