Position: Clinical Director, Young Adult Primary Therapist
Position: Primary Therapist, Adolescent
After receiving a B.A. dual degree in Education and History, Xela served in the Peace Corps for nearly three years in South Africa. It was during this pivotal time when she fully understood 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 supporting and inviting change in adolescents. Soon after, Xela received her Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work 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.
Position: Primary Therapist, Adolescent
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 trained in Emotional focused family therapy, Brainspotting, Truama center Trauma sensitive yoga and has been mentoring new clinicians to become power wilderness therapists in their own right. James is thrilled to bring his talent and love of teens to the Oregon woods with New Vision Wilderness.
In his spare time, James is an avid reader, board gamer, enjoys painting and learning how to perfect gluten-free and keto cooking methods as well as developing an understanding for the nutrition mental health link in his own life.
James focuses his work in two primary ways. First is to understand that all behavior is some form of communication, and that there are always deeper emotional roots to the day to day struggles teens are facing. The second focus is the understanding that healthy relationships lead to healthy individuals, and that if a teenager can actively repair their relationships they are more likely to turn towards the resources of their family instead of away from them as they grow up and experience the challenges of adolescence. When not working with the boys in the woods or mentoring newer clinicians, James loves spending time with his growing family and enjoys the playful energy of his young daughter as she experiences growing up and enjoying the expanding world around her.
Position: Primary Therapist, Young Adults
Annette is a licensed clinical social worker who earned her master’s degree in social work from Texas State University. She was born and raised in a small town in New Hampshire, where she developed a love for the outdoors. Annette spent hours exploring the forest behind her house and found refuge there from the daily stressors of her life. Annette moved to Austin, TX, where she lived and worked for 14 years. She found rock climbing in Austin and met her supportive and loving husband. Annette and her family later moved to Southern Utah and now embark on a new adventure in the beautiful Northwest.
Annette approaches her work through trauma-focused cognitive behavior therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), reality therapy, motivational interviewing, equine-assisted psychotherapy, and adventure therapy interventions. Annette is certified in choice theory and reality therapy through the William Glasser Institute and received EMDR training through the EMDR Institute, where she received her certification of completion for EMDR part 1 and part 2. Additionally, Annette is trained and certified in trauma-focused equine-assisted psychotherapy and has specialized training in the use of equine-connected EMDR through The Natural Lifemanship Institute. Annette is also a certified adventure therapist through the Association for Experiential Education.
Annette walks individuals through the healing process of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, family relational issues, attachment disorders, substance use disorders, emerging personality disorders, and other challenges. Annette is passionate about working with young adults and their families. She recognizes everyone has strengths to build upon to work toward growth and healing. Annette enjoys helping individuals see those strengths and build on those strengths to help them see their personal worth, helping them recognize they are enough, always have been enough, and always will be enough. It is important to Annette to help others learn how to navigate expressing their thoughts and feelings more openly and honestly so they can use their voices and show up in their lives more authentically.
In her free time, Annette enjoys spending time with her family rock climbing, hiking, camping, and caring for her three rescue horses.
Position: Primary Therapist - Adolescent Program, Family Therapist - Family Services and Parent Coach
Mariah joined Deschutes Wilderness Therapy as a clinician working with families and adolescents. Mariah specializes in trauma, attachment, emotional dysregulation, and family systems functioning. For most of her life, Mariah has been interested in understanding the impact trauma and dysfunctional life events have upon the human body and mind and how those interruptions can be addressed and repaired. In 2010 she pursued an education in East Asian Medicine and Acupuncture, seeking a deeper understanding of the body’s innate ability to heal. It was here that Mariah realized the mind and body must be addressed together to activate the healing process and invite the possibility of experiencing wholeness.
In her personal life, Mariah likes to spend time outside with her dog, traveling, and learning all the world has to offer.
Position: Field Therapist
Audrey (she/her) grew up in the Seattle, Washington area. Audrey studied at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where she received her bachelor’s degree in marketing in 2019. After completing her undergraduate degree, she taught English in Thailand and Spain. Audrey then pursued her master’s degree in social work at The University of Denver. During this time, she worked at a residential treatment facility and completed two internships, one at a jail and one at a high school.
After finishing her master’s degree, Audrey moved to Bend, Oregon, to start her career as a social worker. Audrey’s interest in social work stemmed from her passion for working with youth and teens and her experience seeing youth struggle with mental health in previous jobs. During her graduate program, she learned many therapeutic techniques that are of value in her current work. Audrey’s interest in wilderness therapy stemmed early in her career, and she aspires to bring her experiences with trauma and attachment-related concerns to Deschutes Wilderness Therapy.
During her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking, skiing, running, watching movies, and spending time with loved ones.
Position: Family Therapist and Parent Coach
Leah Chambers, MA, Professional Counselor Associate, is a Family Therapist with Nest Family Services. Leah began working in wilderness therapy in 2017, completing a clinical internship with Deschutes Wilderness Therapy and growing into clinical roles that included Clinical Specialist and Primary Therapist for adolescents, young adults, and their families. Since leaving DWT in 2020, Leah has served youth and families in community-based settings; Leah joined Nest Family Services in 2022 and returned to wilderness to support families in finding healing and hope for the future.
Leah enjoys working with families to uncover and process emotional injuries at the root of problematic behaviors and relational obstacles and implement meaningful and practical solutions to challenges. Leah finds joy in walking with clients and families as they author new narratives about themselves and their experiences and helping families discover meaning and purpose for the pain. Leah’s approach is grounded in Attachment Theory, Existential Theory, Motivational Interviewing, Somatic Experiencing and Experiential Therapy techniques. Leah is trained in Brainspotting and Trauma Center Trauma Sensitive Yoga (TCTSY).
Leah holds a Master of Arts degree in Counseling from Colorado Christian University (2018). Leah is committed to evidence-based practices and contributing to the high standard of the counseling profession. Additionally, Leah has over ten years of combined experience working with pre-teens and teens in mentorship and counseling roles. Leah has experience supporting diverse clients and their families through the facilitation of individual, group, and family therapy to address the many issues related to trauma, attachment injuries, interpersonal problems, depression, anxiety, and addictions.
When not working, you may find Leah in her garden, painting, hiking with her friends or family, or playing with their pups, Tank and Ruger.
Position: Case Manager
Bridgette (she/her) was born and raised in a small town called Platteville, Colorado, where she grew up playing many competitive sports such as softball, volleyball, and basketball. Bridgette studied at Colorado State University and received her bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2019. During her undergraduate degree, she was also a student-athlete at Colorado State University and played for the softball team. Bridgette then went on and pursued her master’s degree in social work and graduated in 2022. During her master’s degree program, she interned at an adoption agency in Fort Collins, Colorado, called Adoption Dreams Come True.
After finishing her master’s degree, Bridgette decided to move to Bend, Oregon, and be closer to her partner. Bridgette’s interest in social work stemmed from her experience in psychology interning in other case management roles with the elderly and persons with disabilities, as well as her interest in mental health among student-athletes. She loved the many aspects social work could bring into her professional role and wanted to explore more about this profession. Bridgette learned many therapeutic techniques in her graduate program and has been very interested in wilderness therapy and horticulture therapy ever since. Bridgette strives to bring her experience within adoption and attachment-related concerns to Deschutes Wilderness Therapy and her experience within case management roles.
Bridgette enjoys spending her time baking, painting, hiking, meditating, and being outdoors in general.
Position: Senior Clinical Consultant / Co-Founder
New Vision Wilderness, Deschutes Wilderness Therapy, First Light Wilderness Chief Clinical Consultant/Co-Founder
Brainspotting International Senior Trainer
Heartmath Interventions & Resilient Heart Programs Co-Author
Wellbriety Mending Broken Hearts Trainer
Steve is a dual-licensed psychotherapist filled with passion and knowledge surrounding the intervention and change process. His experience comes from two decades of intervention with tough-to-reach client populations in therapy settings ranging from residential, community-based, outpatient, and wilderness therapy. He is a trainer of several unique therapeutic models, including Brainspotting and HeartMath. Steve co-founded New Vision Wilderness Therapy, Deschutes Wilderness Therapy, and First Light Wilderness programs with a trauma-informed and clinical focus. He continues to work as a core therapeutic training development staff with the Institute of HeartMath, receiving their Humanitarian Heart award in 2018. He is a leading active International Brainspotting trainer.
Along with his training in Phase 1 and 2, he created the Developmental Trauma-Focused Model of Brainspotting. Steve is also a Native-focused a Wellbriety Mending Broken Hearts trainer and Generation Red Road facilitator. Steve spends time amongst trauma-focused treatment masters like Gabor Mate and Bessel Van Der Kolk, and his training is recognized nationwide for cutting-edge therapeutic techniques, science, and inspiration.