AJ Frithiof, LCSW

Position: Clinical Director, Deschutes Young Adult

AJ Frithiof (pronounced Fritch-off) is the clinical director of the young adult program at Deschutes Wilderness Therapy and is a licensed clinical social worker in the State of Oregon and the State of Utah.  She began working in wilderness therapy in 2004 and has since worked in a variety of clinical and programming positions throughout wilderness and residential treatment.  

AJ returned to the wilderness in 2020 by joining the DWT team.  She loves supporting young adults in healing through a relationship based, trauma responsive clinical approach.  AJ believes that an immersive wilderness experience helps young adults connect with their environment, their peers, and themselves in ways they are unable to in the hustle and bustle of today’s world. She particularly enjoys working with young adults who struggle with substance use disorders, dual diagnosis, attachment, and developmental trauma.  She believes these are frequently at the core of many challenges young adults face, including depression and anxiety.  She uses different somatic approaches including brainspotting and Trauma Center Trauma Sensitive Yoga to treat these difficulties.  She is well-versed in the 12-steps as well as other substance use disorder treatment modalities.  AJ conceptualizes and treats young adults and their families from an attachment-based perspective and supports them in uncovering the root of their difficulties and find healing.   

In 2005, AJ completed her BS in Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences with an emphasis in Outdoor Education at Texas A&M University.  After a long stint working in wilderness programming, she returned to school to complete her Master of Social Work at the University of Alabama.  

For 15 years, AJ worked in a variety of capacities for different Outward Bound Schools in Florida, Alabama, South Carolina, and Maine with court-ordered youth and other adolescents struggling with different aspects of mental health.  She held a variety of positions including intern, lead instructor, course director, program developer, and trainer. 

AJ has also worked as a therapist, program director, and clinical director in therapeutic boarding, psychiatric residential treatment, wilderness therapy, and private practice.  She has developed and facilitated substance use disorder programs at several facilities, built a wilderness recovery program, and developed other wilderness and residential programs.  She enjoys using both her clinical skills as a therapist and operations experience in systems, structure, program development, and staff training.  She has successfully worked with clients from 7-years-old up to older adults.  

On hot, sunny days, you can find AJ kayaking or hiking, whereas on sunny, snowy days, you can find her skiing. Year-round she’s a voracious coffee consumer, Maine Root Sarsaparilla Beer lover, and like a true southerner, ice-cold Coca Cola drinker. She’s a morning get ‘er done-er who loves listening to books on 1.5x speed, spending time with friends, hanging out with her rambunctious Labrador, WOD-ing, puzzling, and afternoon napping.