Our philosophy

  • “I see you…” means “I see the best in you!”
  • “You are great just the way you are” – the paradox of change
  • Find your interests, talents, passions
  • Know yourself = love yourself
  • Solution focused therapy for family systems
  • Realizing my role and my value in the group
  • Benefitting from others’ experiences
  • Gaining flexibility in order to live together
  • Learning and practicing empathy
  • Learning to push oneself to continue contributing to the group effort
  • Self Determination Theory – Rich Ryan and Ed Deci, University of Rochester
  • Basic human needs in order to thrive:
  • Relatedness
  • Competency
  • Autonomy
  • Meaning and purpose
  • Connection – to nature, to the group, to yourself
  • Learning to depend on others in the group
  • Learning how much more you are capable of
  • … and other venue-specific benefits

Our philosophy is multi-faceted – “It takes a village to raise a child”, and it takes working on all levels to create meaningful and lasting change in people’s lives. “It has been a complete game changer for us” is a theme we hear often from families at Free Spirit. We deeply believe in what we do, and realize how important it is to be able to translate your beliefs and theory into everyday life. This is why all staff participates in the daily life of our program – therapists, counselors, educators alike. It is the meaning of immersive therapy – always present and available to make the most of every moment – crisis, success, or routine.  

  • Challenge by Choice:  Having the opportunity to make choices about your life makes you more involved and responsive
  • Role modeling by staff, mentors and peers
  • Learning skills are always opportunities for growth
  • Nature and the challenging wilderness are powerful facilitators for connection: to nature, to ourselves and to others
  • Experiential processes are powerful accelerators for positive growth, including dealing with raw emotions, acquiring a renewed sense of competency and confidence, abandoning maladaptive schemas and finding positive ways to interact with our surrounding
  • Field expeditions, workshops, and day to day living together create learning on all levels. It is first and foremost experiential and immediately relevant, thus meaningful and long lasting.
  • Individual and group sessions allow for self-reflection, processing, and support on deeper levels and needs.
  • Living as a community is a powerful element, introducing compromising, mutual support, and more
  • Coping in the outdoors legitimizes emotional difficulties and pain, leading to greater self-regulation
  • Renewed competency, together with self-reflection is what creates ownership on steering our own lives when we move forward to new social arenas
  • We believe in “change within” – It is not our structure that creates change – because our structure will not follow you later on, your skills and determination will!
  • Self Determination Theory“* states that in order to grow positively we all need to feel Relatedness (like we belong and connect), Competent (that we are able to achieve our goals), Autonomous (our choices determine our reality), and Meaningful (by being valuable to others, for example)
  • What we offer is multiple opportunities for our participants to experiment and experience themselves as competent, connected, autonomous and meaningful
  • Our participants experience themselves differently, in a new way that they like and find more productive in achieving their personal and social goals. In a way that others around them really appreciate
  • Connection – connect with oneself through nature and culture, gain a sense of belonging. Connect to us and your peers, and then reconnect with family
  • Together we figure out new schemas and choices so to achieve one’s personal and social goals while positively interacting with peers and adults
  • Finally, we believe that in order to move on and continue growing, we need to communicate with parents and sometimes other people you may find meaningful, in order to set forth a plan for the next step forward. Read more >>
  • The return home has three crucial steps we want to prepare for – reintegrating into life home, settling in, and ongoing life as you choose it to be