Not In My Backyard: Communities resist mental health, and alcohol and drug treatment facilities

“Researchers have documented the importance of providing evidence-based treatments to people with mental illnesses, including substance use disorders (SUDs), not only to improve their quality of life, but also to lessen the social and economic burden of these conditions on society as a whole. Although many people agree that individuals with alcohol and drug use problems benefit considerably from receiving treatment, local governments and residents often adopt a “not in my backyard” (NIMBY) mentality when it comes to having such facilities located in their communities.”

Read the full article here:

Therapeutic Wilderness Awareness Month and the Jason William Hunt Foundation

September/October 2016 is the first Therapeutic Wilderness Awareness MonthTM. TWAM is a month long collaboration between the Jason William Hunt Foundation and selected microbreweries in 13 states. Each brewery picks the month of their participation as well as the beer to showcase while raising awareness of  therapeutic wilderness expedition treatment programs with their customers.  While some brewers are promoting normally stocked brews others are not only creating special brews but are giving them wilderness related names. For example in September the1912 Brewing of Tucson, AZ, is offering their seasonal brew Drugstore Cowboy Ale. In October Zephyr Brewing of Denver, CO, will be offering Wilderness Scottish Ale. At the end of their participation each brewery will donate to the foundation based on sales of their showcased brew.

The breweries will have posters, table talkers to aid their customers in knowing more about wilderness expedition treatment programs. Smart phone users who scan the QR Code from the promotional materials will be taken to the foundation’s website for more details. Additionally information cards will also be available for review later.

The participating breweries in September are Outer Banks Brewing Station, Kill Devil Hills, NC, and the following Tucson Brewers: 1912 Brewing, Borderlands Brewing, Iron John’s Brewing, Public Brewhouse and Tucson Hop Shop. For October’s list of breweries please check the foundation’s website and click on the Therapeutic Wilderness Awareness Month Banner as the  locations spread throughout Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Maine, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Vermont, Wisconsin. NOTE: Due to Utah’s alcoholic beverage regulations Utah participating breweries will be showcasing appetizers.

Funds raised will benefit the foundation’s scholarship fund. The monies will be held for a teen(s) of each respective state to attend one of the foundation’s affiliated wilderness expedition treatment programs. The child may attend in-state or out-of-state as the parents determine. To apply for aid the child must be, at the least, in the treatment program’s admissions process.

While acting responsibility it is hoped that the friends of therapeutic wilderness expedition treatment programs will support this campaign by visiting the participants in their travels. Please bring a crowd, thank the management for their participation and support, take a selfie and post with the brewery’s name to your social media using #cheerstowilderness

For more details contact visit or contact John Hunt, Executive Director, Jason William Hunt Foundation, 513-375-2286

Thank you.

7 Things You May Not Know About Paradigm Malibu


  1. We provide research-backed, evidence-based treatment for anxiety, depression and trauma in a compassionate and expert residential service that works with adolescents for 30-45 days in a co-educational and community-based setting
  2. Paradigm’s clinically-comprehensive services provide clinical assessment, daily individual therapy and four hours of group therapy each day
  3. We have a state-of-the-art Young Athlete’s Program directed by therapist and medal winning Olympic swimmer Markus Rogan
  4. Our team just launched our first program outside of Malibu in San Francisco, California
  5. Paradigm’s nationally renowned family program provides 5 hours of parent and family groups every Saturday to support the entire family system.
  6. Our specialty LGBT+ services work with adolescents and families with an affirming and compassionate approach
  7. We provide resources for families, clinicians and adolescents through our social media outlets and blog



In 2015, NATSAP started a “Spotlight on our Member Programs”, where we focused on one Member each week and highlighted them on our Social Networking sites. NATSAP recently started our new feature: 7 Things You Might Not Know About (Program Name)!

Let’s showcase what makes our programs stand out! Send your 7 bullet point list of what makes your program unique to as well as any pictures that you would like to share.


Community Event Aligns with Northwest Academy Mission

Northwest Academy.jpg



At the sound of the starting gun, runners break through a ribbon and the 40th Annual Kootenai River Run has begun. Northwest Academy assumed sole sponsorship of the event eight years ago as a way to serve the local community and because the event aligned with the therapeutic boarding school’s mission to teach students the benefits of health and wellness and the importance of a post-secondary education.  The proceeds from the event provide college scholarships to local high school students and support the community running program.

This USA Track and Field sanctioned 5k and 10k event started in 1976 and many runners have crossed the finish line over the years. Dwindling participation threatened to shut down the race but the sponsorship by the Northwest Academy kept the event alive. Today, more than 180 runners participate including Northwest Academy staff, students and their families.

Events like the Kootenai River Run often become something very personal to aspiring runners. Northwest Academy Math Teacher Dwayne Davis saw the Kootenai River Run as his chance to train for his first 5K run. He had been unable to participate in previous years due to health issues. He set a goal to train for the event and cross the finish line. Not only did Davis finish, he placed third in his age group and has since run two other races with more races to come.

“I’ll tell you it wasn’t easy. At one point I thought about slowing down to a walk, but up ahead I saw one of my students running alongside her mother, and I thought I’ll keep up a little longer and a little longer and I made it to the end,” explained Davis.

At the conclusion of the race, as all gathered for the awards ceremony, Kootenai River Run Coordinator Jim Cadnum expressed his gratitude to Northwest Academy for their continued sponsorship of the event.

Northwest Academy is a therapeutic boarding school specifically designed to meet the unique needs of high school juniors and seniors. The carefully designed structure and curriculum enables students, at-risk of not graduating high school due to mental health, behavioral or substance abuse issues, to address the roadblocks that are keeping them from successfully transitioning to adulthood.

Northwest Academy students repair their grade point average, rekindle their desire to attend college, apply and are accepted into college, and examine their thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and the relationships and patterns between them. They also learn important life skills and participate in a college readiness curriculum designed to help them be as prepared as possible for college life.

Students leave Northwest Academy with a high school diploma in hand and the tools, motivation and confidence needed to lead a successful life. Located on a beautiful, plateau in the mountains of northern Idaho, students are accepted for enrollment year-round. Learn more at or call 877-882-0980.

7 Things You Might Not Know About Shepherd’s Hill Academy


  • With the exception of the classrooms, SHA is a digital-free environment—unplugged from the stressors systemic to today’s screens and keyboards, yet equipping students with tools for healthy tech-etiquette upon returning home.


  • State licensed, SHA offers a synergistic blend of a high-quality boarding school with the therapeutic advantages of a wilderness program.  Combined with a Christ-centered foundation, SHA truly is a hybrid with the best of all worlds.


  • Now accepting insurance, SHA’s faith-based foundation doesn’t stem from blind faith or denominational bias, but on evidence concluded from the totality of scientific, theological and historical research.  It also remains congruent with sound psychology, logic and objective experience, yet sensitive to one’s subjective experiences.


  • SHA is a 12 month co-ed program; yet, we are gender specific and segregated.  With a 5-1 maximum student-to-counselor ratio, romantic relationships will never cloud the waters of healing and learning.


  • SHA students are offered AP and college prep classes.  While not just taught what to think, students are taught how to think—and encouraged to challenge the origins, merits and apologetics of all they’re being taught—and by whatever reasonable, logical or theological means they choose.


  • Equine Relational Therapy (ERT) is just one other component to the therapeutic paradigm that SHA employs to help bring emotional and spiritual healing to its students.


  • SHA is conveniently located right off the I85 corridor between Atlanta and Charlotte, making it an optimal location for parents and extended family in the eastern half of the United States to enroll, visit and support their teens.




In 2015, NATSAP started a “Spotlight on our Member Programs”, where we focused on one Member each week and highlighted them on our Social Networking sites. NATSAP recently started our new feature: 7 Things You Might Not Know About (Program Name)!

Let’s showcase what makes our programs stand out! Send your 7 bullet point list of what makes your program unique to as well as any pictures that you would like to share.

Support U+Me+AT! Donate to Sky’s the Limit Fund


In April 2016, at the Regional Wilderness Therapy Symposium, a captive audience sat spell-bound as they listened to the evening’s Keynote Speaker. Jennifer Pharr Davis, author and founder of Blue Ridge Hiking Company, recounted stories and life lessons from her multiple trips on the Appalachian Trail. Following this inspirational address, a group of women discussed their desire to “do something.” From this conversation, U+Me+AT emerged.  Louise Slater, Alyson Smith Davis and Deara Ball will spend a week (September 18-25), hiking a section of the Appalachian Trail in hopes of reconnecting with nature and themselves, while raising money for Sky’s the Limit Fund, a non profit organization that transforms the lives of at-risk youth with financial need by providing grants, support and hope, through wilderness therapy programs and beyond.  These women, from different backgrounds, will experience the thrills and challenges that wilderness therapy students encounter every day, and will lend support to an organization whose mission is to connect families to this powerful, therapeutic resource.

Donate to STFL here:



I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list. -Susan Sontag


Planning a road trip? Use your NATSAP Discount at Jiffy Lube before you hit the road!

Need a rental once you land? Hertz has partnered with NATSAP to offer great discounts on their cars.

Looking for a place to lay your head? Check out HotelStorm’s NATSAP portal. When you use HotelStorm, you’ll find savings of 10-55% over other online travel agencies.


The HotelStorm portal will not be available during the Annual and Regional conferences BUT NATSAP Program Members are welcome to use the portal to help coordinate family visits.


Want to know more or need your discount codes? E-mail!




Two Ways to Brag!


We hope that you have enjoyed our We Are NATSAP newsletters. We are currently creating a special edition of We Are NATSAP, which will be focused on the education that our member programs provide to their students.

Did your students rock the advanced placement tests that they took? Enjoy going in-depth with Shakespeare in the Park? Learn about coding and create their own website? Participate in a political debate? Go on a geological field trip? Sharpen your #2 pencils and send us your articles about your program’s recent educational advances and successes.

Being featured in We Are NATSAP allows a program to tout their latest achievements as well as provide the opportunity to promote your press release to a wider audience that consists of industry associates, consultants, and parents. In addition to our regular audience, this special edition will be sent to key members of the Senate and House Committees that focus on education. It is vitally important to showcase the excellent education that our member programs provide to their participants.

Article requirements:

–               Less than 400 words per article.

–               Pictures are highly encouraged! We ask that you respect your students’ privacy and only show their faces if you have permission from the students/parents.

–               If a picture isn’t available, your program’s logo is fine.

If you are interested in providing an article for the special edition of We Are NATSAP, please contact Megan Stokes ( by September 12th.



In 2015, NATSAP started a “Spotlight on our Member Programs”, where we focused on one Member each week and highlighted them on our Social Networking sites. Starting August 1st, NATSAP will be starting our new feature: 7 Things You Might Not Know About (Program Name)!

Let’s showcase what makes our programs stand out! Send your 7 bullet point list of what makes your program unique to as well as any pictures that you would like to share.


Supporting LGBTQ Adults Experiencing Mental Illness

***NATSAP will hold a Members Only Webinar October 19th on Transgender Placements. The webinar will cover both staff training and licensing requirements. An e-mail with a link to register for the webinar will be made available soon.***



Raymond J. Kotwicki, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer, Skyland Trail

Several aspects of our psychiatric treatment program make Skyland Trail an effective and welcoming environment for LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Queer or Questioning) adults – including cisgender, transgender, agender, genderqueer, and gender questioning individuals – who are experiencing mental illness.

Foremost is our treatment philosophy. We encourage our patients to define their own values and establish their own goals. Our clinical team then helps each patient identify the best strategies for living a life true to their values, staying healthy, and achieving identified goals. Those strategies include an individualized mix of medications, stress management, skills building, nutrition and healthy living education, cognitive training, and social skills development.

Some patients are comfortable with their gender identity, gender expression, and/or sexual orientation. That’s just part of who you are, and it’s not an issue. In that case, we’re here to help you address the psychiatric symptoms and challenges that are causing you pain or disability, including anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, impulsivity, or self-harming behaviors while reaffirming your self identity.

Other patients may still be exploring their identity and how they express themselves in terms of gender or sexual orientation. They may be experiencing anxiety, depression, or other mental health symptoms as a result of that exploration, either from an internal conflict or from stress imposed by their environment – for example from their relationships or from barriers preventing them from participating fully in their community. We support these patients as they explore these questions. We help them build skills to manage stress and conflict as well as the resilience needed to live the life they choose.

Another important element of our treatment program is our commitment to ongoing education and training for our clinical professionals. As we identify needs in our client population, we work to find the best evidence-based strategies to address those needs. Our clinical team has received training on supporting LGBTQQIAAP individuals and meeting therapeutic needs that may be unique. For example, we are comfortable and have experience managing medications and conducting psychotherapy with individuals who are also taking hormone therapy. Our weekly schedule includes a group specifically for LGBTQQIAAP clients. We’ve also taken steps to make our facilities more welcoming, like offering all-gender restrooms.

Beyond our relationship with the individual patient, our holistic approach includes family therapy. Family therapy can be helpful for all our patients, and may include therapy with biological family members or chosen family members. While in treatment, our patients work hard to change their unhealthy thought and behavior patterns and adopt new perspectives and skills. If they return home to an environment that continues to reinforce the old unhealthy patterns, clients face a greater challenge in sustaining their recovery. Family therapy can help change the family dynamic and improve communication so that families can better support one another and prevent conflict and relapse.

Finally, Skyland Trail includes humanitarianism as a key element of our treatment program and healing community. For someone dealing with a mental illness, it can be difficult to shift your focus outside of yourself to instead focus on what you can do to help others or how you can contribute to your community. We emphasize the importance of showing kindness and practicing empathy. This creates a welcoming community of peers for all of our clients; they are met with empathy and acceptance. Our focus on humanitarianism also is therapeutic. By practicing empathy and engaging in purposeful activities, our patients help redefine their place in their world and discover the value they add to their communities.

Bottom line, we meet clients where they are. We offer expert psychiatric care and a holistic path to wellness. Each week, patients participate in a structured schedule of evidence-based therapeutic groups matched to your diagnosis and symptoms, as well as groups focused on creative expression, healthy living, social skills, and community engagement. No matter where you view yourself on a spectrum of gender or sexual orientation, if you are struggling with mental illness, we will help you grow, recover, and live a life worth living.

Ray Kotwicki, MD, MPH

Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Ray Kotwicki is the chief medical officer of Skyland Trail. Located in Atlanta, Skyland Trail is a nationally recognized nonprofit mental health treatment organization serving adults ages 18 and older. For 26 years, Skyland Trail has been inspiring people with mental illnesses to thrive through a holistic program of evidence-based psychiatric treatment, integrated medical care, research and education. Before joining Skyland Trail as full time chief medical officer, Dr. Kotwicki served as an associate professor the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University’s School of Medicine, and as an associate professor at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health. He remains on adjunctive faculty at the Emory University School of Medicine, as well as at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Dr. Kotwicki is a Diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and has been elected an officer of the Georgia Psychiatric Physicians’ Association. Dr. Kotwicki received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Wisconsin Medical School, and completed post-graduate training at Harvard Medical School, the Boston University School of Medicine, and Emory University, where he also earned a Master’s degree in public health.