New Vision Wilderness offers a unique and intensive therapeutic process for teens. The Clinical Team includes Field Therapists and Clinical Specialists who are passionate about healing and using the outdoors as an office. NVW also offers Psychological Testing through a collaboration with Dr. Mark Bjerke Ph.D, and several other national industry authorities.
Lead Field Therapists oversee treatment, and also facilitating group and individual therapy. Clinical Specialists are masters-level professionals incorporating specialty skills into the wilderness experiences. These collaborative efforts increase therapist contact time and clinical intervention. NVW follows a Trauma Informed Care model, and all clinical staff are trained in Brainspotting. For more clinical resource information click here.
Steve Sawyer, LCSW CSAC
Steve Sawyer is a licensed psychotherapist filled with passion and knowledge surrounding the intervention and change process. His experience comes from over a decade of intervention with tough-to-reach client populations in therapy settings ranging from residential, community-based, outpatient and wilderness therapy.
Steve is trained in several unique therapeutic models including somatic trigger release, traumatic memory reprocessing, and HeartMath. He is also recognized internationally as a Brainspotting trainer and consultant who trains outpatient therapist and treatment programs.
Through his experience he has authored two books, co-founded Wisconsin’s only wilderness therapy program, New Vision Wilderness, and works as a core therapeutic training development staff with the Institute of HeartMath. He was an author in the innovative and comprehensive HeartMath Interventions Establishing a New Baseline for Sustained Behavioral Change therapist training Module that revolutionizes modern therapy interventions through an emotional physiology approach.
Steve’s largest project has been the development of NVW’s Trauma Informed Care model in the wilderness setting that has challenged the entire wilderness therapy industry on making healthier interventions with their clients. Steve’s trainings are recognized nationwide for cutting-edge therapeutic techniques and inspiration.
Ricky Becker, LMSW CSWA
Assistant Clinical Director - Oregon
Ricky received his BA from The Evergreen State College in Washington State and his Master of Social Work in Oregon State at Portland State University. During his graduate education Ricky focused on working with at-risk youth, their families and communities as an addictions counselor, case manager and a school social worker. He has been trained in Brainspotting (BSP) and continues to focus his professional development and career in the trauma informed arena, specializing in the treatment of adolescents. Ricky belongs to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and is currently certified as a Clinical Social Work Associate (CSWA). He has over two years of experience working with youth in a wilderness therapy setting as both a field instructor and field supervisor. Ricky is a firm believer in the transformative power of nature and the outdoors as a medium for therapy, growth and positive life change with an emphasis on family systems, interpersonal process and attachment therapy, trauma informed care and seeking the deepest therapeutic healing possible. Ricky is excited to bring his extensive outdoor skills and therapeutic background to New Vision Wildernesses clinical team.
Jacob Thomason, B.A., M.S.
Assistant Clinical Director - Wisconsin
Jacob earned his Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL. He has worked for more than 7 years as a therapist in the wilderness in Utah, Wisconsin, and at an extended care sober living program in Maine. As an adventure therapist, Jacob has led clients on international outdoor treks. . Jacob believes in utilizing the challenges of the wilderness to build confidence in those who are struggling to identify personal strengths and growth areas. A native of Georgia, Jacob and his wife Kelsey moved to Medford, WI where they are raising their daughter to explore and appreciate the great outdoors.
Elizabeth Deardorff, LCSW
Family Services Clinical Director - Oregon and Wisconsin
Elizabeth received her BA from the University of Wisconsin- Madison and achieved her Master of Social Work, emphasis on Child and Family and Mental Health, from Loyola University Chicago in Illinois. Liz is trained in both EMDR-Level two and Brainspotting, which are powerful tools to utilize with trauma, attachment and anxiety. Liz enjoys utilizing the tools in combination with nature to further create a powerful experience within treatment. She has worked with children and adolescents along with families in an outpatient agency and with groups in a school environment. Liz has experience as a YMCA camp counselor working with adolescents, as well as afterschool programming in Madison. She also focuses on self awareness and empowerment as a powerful process in work with oneself and with interpersonal relationships.
Edwin Weih, PA
Edwin Weih P.A. attended Emory University School of Medicine Physician Associate Program. While at Emory University he learned to guide rafts from Prof. Claude Terry. Prof. Terry was very instrumental in the formation of the Southeastern United States Whitewater community and he was the Whitewater support director for the movie Deliverance.
One of Edwin's positions was at the Georgia Tech University student health service. During this time he was the medical director for Outdoor Recreation Georgia Tech, fondly known O.R.G.T. He had a great interest in developing the medical kits that were used on O.R.G.T. trips He was also a professional raft guide for High Country based in Atlanta Georgia. He guided on the Ocoee, section 3 of the Chattooga and the Gauley when it was running. Most recently he guided a paddle raft down the Colorado River for 18 days. He worked emergency room medicine at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta Georgia and was the medical director for Catherine Freer Wilderness Therapy Expeditions.
He has also been an avid rock climber. Teaching and climbing in the southeastern United States and climbing for pleasure in El Dorado Canyon, Yosemite and Joshua tree among other locations.He is a member of the Wilderness Medical Society and continues to be very active in paddling, cross-country skiing and trail running. He has presented at the Wilderness Risk Medicine Conference and continues to be active in wilderness medicine. He currently runs a family practice in a small rural town, Oakridge Oregon. There is a high level of urgent and emergent care associated with this practice.
Read up on Edwin and his work in Oakridge.
Dr. Jenna Saul, M.D., F.A.A.C.A.P.
Dr. Jenna Saul is board-certified in general psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry. She treats mental health problems, behavioral problems and emotional problems with a family-centered, evidence-based treatment approach. She utilizes a holistic, integrative medicine model to evaluate, diagnose and treat children of all ages, adolescents and adults. She provides individual therapy, family therapy, psycho-education, neurofeedback, and medication management. Her treatment and research interests are Mindfulness based psychotherapies, including Acceptance and Committment Therapy (ACT), Mindfulness Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (MBCT) and Mindfulness Based Meditation.
James Nippert, MA
Lead Wilderness Therapist - Oregon
James Nippert started working with adolescents and their families in wilderness therapy in 2004 and has been passionate about wilderness therapy ever since that time. James' personal approach to therapy focuses on the need for both the adolescent and the family to heal together. James received his Master's Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Appalachian State University and has worked for a number of wilderness therapy and therapeutic boarding schools. James is thrilled to bring his talent and love of teens to the Oregon woods with New Vision Wilderness. It is his personal belief that there is no other milieu that so successfully sets the stage to facilitate change and healing as does an attuned wilderness experience. In his spare time, James is an avid reader, skier and enjoys learning how to perfect gluten-free cooking methods.
Wesley Bruce, M.A.
Wilderness Therapist - Wisconsin
Wesley started working with youth in 2009 as a residential caseworker at a group home for at-risk youth. Wesley studied at the Adler University in Chicago, IL where he obtained his MA Counseling Psychology along with a certificate in Advanced Adlerian Psychotherapy. Before joining the NVW team Wesley worked as a school therapist (Chicago, IL) and as a program clinician (Boston, MA) at a twelve bed residential treatment where he focused on utilizing Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) with teens and families. Since joining the NVW team Wesley has focused in therapy practice on utilizing both trauma and relational models, and utilizing various therapy approaches including brainspotting, trauma sensitive yoga, along with traditional therapy approaches. Wesley enjoys travelling, backpacking, running, yoga, and cooking.
Lacey Heinzelman, LPC, LMFT
Wilderness Therapist - Wisconsin
Lacey earned a Master's Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Abilene Christian University. After graduating with high honors, Lacey earned the Texas Association of Marriage and Family Therapy Student Achievement Award. This award is only presented to one marriage and family therapy student in the entire state of Texas and recognizes excellence in counseling. Lacey has previously worked as an outpatient therapist for adolescents, couples, families, and individuals. While working in rural Montana, Lacey found the therapeutic benefits of nature and the outdoors especially powerful in creating change with adolescents. Lacey desired to work more directly within the flexibility and variety of the wilderness at New Vision Wilderness. Lacey operates from a strengths-based, family systems model of therapy. In her off time, she enjoys being active in nature, reading, watching Packer football games, and being near any kind of body of water, all with her dog Phil.
Leigh-Anne Husted, MSW
Wilderness Therapist - Oregon
Leigh-Anne graduated from Florida State University where she received a Masters of Social Work Degree. After that she worked with at-risk youth in residential, school, and juvenile settings as a case manager and was also a Young Men’s Advocate at a transitional facility for homeless young men. As a volunteer she was an active role model within the juvenile court system. Following these experiences, Leigh-Anne entered the Wilderness Therapy industry working as Head Field Staff, clinical support, and leading quarterly staff in-services. Leigh-Anne believes in the power of the wilderness and is excited to bring her experience to New Vision. In her spare time she enjoys watching Florida State football, hanging a hammock in beautiful places, and spending time with friends and family.
Nicole Prescott, M.A., LCPC
Wilderness Therapist- Wisconsin
Nicole received her Master’s in Counseling Psychology; Specializing in Child and Adolescents. Nicole is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) and trained Grief Recovery Specialist through the Grief Recovery Method. She worked as the Program Manager/House Manager for a non-profit agency with adolescent at-risk males for two and a half years. During this time Nicole also began working with a local private practice assisting clients of all ages to develop deeper insight and walk beside them in their self-discovery and transitions in becoming the best versions of themselves. She also spent a year working with young female adults in a transitional housing program for homeless females as a case manager. She has been working with a variety of clients since her internship in both an agency setting and private practice. Nicole moved into adventure based counseling in 2014 with Adventure Works in DeKalb IL and had been their Clinical Coordinator for almost two years prior to joining New Vision Wilderness. Nicole has lived in a variety of states; Utah, Arizona, Illinois, and now Wisconsin. She loves to travel and explore new cultures around the world. Nicole enjoys spending her free time exploring the green spaces where she lives, baking, reading anything she can get her hand on, and spending time with her two cats; Pigeon and Binx. Nicole is excited to be here at New Vision Wilderness to assist children, adolescents, and families to explore nature and discover counseling through wilderness experiences. She believes that there are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going and the journey of self-discovery is one such adventure.
Lee (Leroy) Giroux, MA,MFTi
Leroy received his BS in Forestry from Southern Illinois University. After working a number of years as a park ranger he found his way into wilderness therapy in Oregon. It was while working in the field that Leroy discovered his life’s passion, to help adolescents and young adults build the courage to go within themselves and find their true self, while learning healthy coping skills to handle the challenges of young adulthood, assertive communication skills, and resources to help them maintain their sobriety. After working for 2 ½ years as a Senior Field Instructor he moved into a Mentor and Outdoor Director position with a young adult transition program in southern Oregon. Having gained experience working with young adults returning from the wilderness and applying the skills they learned in the woods, Leroy took a year to travel on his motorcycle before returning the woods with wilderness therapy program in Georgia for the next year. He made the choice to attend graduate school at California Institute of Integral Studies, receiving his Masters in Counseling Psychology with a focus on Marriage and Family Therapy. Leroy is passionate about working with young adults and adolescents in the wilderness setting. He draws upon a variety of therapeutic modalities, Gestalt, Transpersonal, CBT and DBT techniques, Relational, Family Systems, to help him meet the client where they are.
In his spare time Leroy enjoys woodworking, reading, meditation, motorcycle rides, backpacking and hiking, and spending time with friends, family and his dog Sid.
Xela Goodman, LMSW
After receiving a B.A. dual degree in Education and History from the College of Idaho, Xela served in the Peace Corps for nearly three years in South Africa. It was in this foreign environment where she fully understood and embraced her passion for being of service to others. Upon returning to the States, Xela started her work in wilderness therapy as a field instructor, where she spent several years helping to invite change in adolescents. Soon after, Xela received her Master's Degree in Clinical Social Work, with high honors, from Arizona State University. Spanning over a decade, Xela has worked at several wilderness therapy programs and therapeutic boarding schools. Xela has a natural affinity for relationship-based work with adolescents and easily connects and aligns with individuals and families to clarify strengths and issues, build insight, and guide needed changes. She believes that the wilderness setting naturally provides a very meaningful and powerful environment for adolescents to improve their self-worth, sense of belonging, and connection to self and others.
Keri Sawyer, BA RYT
Somatic Intervention Specialist - Wisconsin
Keri comes to New Vision Wilderness with a strong business background. Keri walked in a world with some of the largest stressed filled corporations in the country. Through this experience, she came to realize the importance of somatic focused stress regulation. She has found a passion for working with highly stressed and sensitive clientele like treatment resistant teens and survivors of trauma. Keri teaches many classes across Northwest Wisconsin.
Keri is a registered yoga teacher through the yoga alliance. She is certified in Alignment Yoga and her approach is based in trauma sensitive principles. Keri teaches at NVW to bridge the gap between mind, body, and emotions. She works with all groups on affect regulation skills, stress reduction, mindfulness meditation and somatic awareness. Keri integrates the teachings of Heart Math and Brainspotting into her work. She helps integrate all forms of somatic work into the NVW model.
Diesel came to New Vision Wilderness in October 2016 at about 3 years old. He is a lover and can’t stand to be away from his pack (The Girls Group in Wisconsin). He also likes to push the boundaries often and needs assertive communication and consistency, which are great teaching lessons for our clients. His favorite activities include swimming, playing fetch, and observing the squirrels. He is a big boy weighing close to 80 pounds, but that doesn’t stop him from trying to be a lap dog. Diesel really seems to love his job and knows that he is serving a purpose.
Ranger is currently our youngest Pup in the Wisconsin woods at 9 months old and weighing in at 75 pounds. He is quite rambunctious and loves working with our older boys group. He has a big personality and loves to challenge the boys in their relationships with him. He keeps them on their toes, loves to run, and then relax in the sun. He also loves chew toys and going for a dip in the nearest creek. He is a pro at matching the energy level of whoever he is working with.
Ashley Murtagh, MFTi
Ashley received her BA in Art Education from San Francisco State University, and earned her Masters in Arts of Marriage Family Therapy from Notre Dame de Namur in California. During her graduate education, Ashley worked at StarVista Insights, a nonprofit substance abuse program that provides mental health services to adolescents. Additionally, she worked with The Art of Yoga Project, which works to rehabilitate adolescent girls in the CA juvenile justice system through providing art therapy and yoga classes. Ashley is excited to start this new chapter of her life in Oregon, and bring her experience to the New Vision Wilderness team! In her free time, Ashley enjoys communicating through movie quotes.