Nest Family Services Old

Nest Logo-Deschutes_FINAL_RGB

Programs for the Entire Family

Located in Oregon

Our Nest program is a multi-day, individualized, family therapy intervention in the wilderness or lodging. This program takes place with our Family Services therapist and a wilderness guide. It is open to all family members. The Family Services therapist helps the student and family practice the skills they’ve learned during their respective journeys at Deschutes. Each family member has the opportunity to vocalize the sentiments they’ve been sharing through letters, as well as those that they’ve kept inside themselves. They get to look each other in the eye and see each other in the most authentic sense. It is often a heartwarming and illuminating experience.

The Nest Process

Before arrival, the Family Services therapist communicates with the student’s primary therapist to form individualized treatment objectives and goals for the family. The family therapist and guide facilitate deep and meaningful therapeutic work. With the communication skills they have been learning along the way, students and families can express themselves intentionally and articulately and repair their family dynamics.

Throughout the intensive, the therapeutic work is coupled with adventure, canine therapy, and opportunities to relax and interact as a family.


The CASA Model

Deschutes Wilderness Therapy has integrated the CASA model and has a reputation of specializing in developmental trauma, adoption, and attachment work. The CASA model framework is built to assist our students with developmental trauma be able to experience secure attachment. Family Services teaches the CASA model to parents and assists them in practicing the framework to continue to build secure attachment and repair relationships.

Admissions Process:

  1. Contact our Admissions Team at 866-282-3024. We are excited to learn more about your child and to discuss if Deschutes Wilderness Therapy is the right fit.
  2. Visit our admissions page to begin the online application by clicking “Online Registration” link below. This provides the Admissions Team and Administrative Office with basic information. An Admissions Counselor will contact you within 24 hours.
  3. Receive the Admission Packet from your Admissions Counselor.
  4. Fax, e-mail, or mail completed Admission Packet to Deschutes Wilderness Therapy. Visit our contact page for complete contact information here.

Nest Family Services Team

Dan Kikkert, MSIOP Program Development

Elizabeth Deardorff, LCSW Family Therapist

Erik Flaten Family Specialist, Nest Family Services

Laura Murphy Portrait

Laura Murphy, MA, MC, LPCA Therapeutic Family Visit Facilitator

Leah Chambers, MA, LPC Family Therapist and Parent Coach

Lori Vallelunga, PhD Clinical Director, Young Adult Primary Therapist

Mariah Vlach, MFTA Primary Therapist - Adolescent Program, Family Therapist - Nest Family Services and Parent Coach

Olivia Akana Administrative Director

Sarah Golemon-Mercer Family Intensive Coordinator and Family Specialist

Savanna DeLuca, M.A., LPC Family Therapist and Parent Coach

Tim Moore, LPC Family Therapist

Dan Kikkert, MSIOP

Position: Program Development
As the Associate Executive Director at Deschutes Wilderness Therapy, Dan directly oversees the young adult and family services programs in addition to overall risk management, medical, and quality control systems.  He combines his experience in wilderness therapy with his knowledge in organizational psychology to help push DWT in its mission through quality systems, leadership development, and data-driven, human-centered decision-making. Dan has been working in wilderness therapy since 2012 in a variety of field, programming, and operations roles. He received his BS in Physics with a Minor in Mathematics from Penn State University and his MS in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from Sacred Heart University.  Dan is a strong leader, dedicated to service in wilderness therapy for many years now. He volunteers as an AEE accreditation reviewer, traveling to programs around the country helping them to gain and maintain accreditation, serves as the chair of the OBH Best Practices Committee, and regularly presents at conferences to help push cutting-edge treatment throughout the industry.  Dan has a passion for discovering the unknown and spends his free time cycling, skiing, rafting, and tinkering in his shop.  Dan loves working on engines and has recently set up a home welding studio. Dan’s friends and family enjoy Dan’s passion for cooking beautiful, creative meals for them.

Elizabeth Deardorff, LCSW

Position: Family Therapist

Liz is driven in her practice by her purpose- to bring togetherness and understanding to families and communities so we can feel more connected and less isolated in this lonely and traumatized world. Liz believes in communal and relational healing, starting with the family system. Liz deeply believes in the importance of repair, healing, and growth within our relationships to fully develop a secure sense of self. She has worked with adolescents, adults, and families since 2010 in and out of the wilderness setting. Liz is an expert in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP), Brainspotting, EMDR, and Trauma Center Trauma Sensitive Yoga (TCTSY). She bridges these therapeutic techniques with experiential wilderness-based activities that have proven very effective in creating connection in our wilderness therapy model. This leads to a powerful treatment experience for the entire family, mutually gained insights, and healing.

Liz will always be a midwesterner at heart. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She achieved her Master of Social Work with a focus in Child and Family and Mental Health from Loyola University- Chicago. In her free time, you can find Liz trying to find every waterfall in Oregon, dancing, reading, rooting for the Wisconsin Badgers, and playing with Oliver, her golden retriever pup.

Erik Flaten

Position: Family Specialist, Nest Family Services

Erik has been working with Deschutes Wilderness Therapy (DWT) since February 2021 and has experience as a Field Guide, Logistics Transporter, and now as a Family Specialist with Nest Family Services. Erik is an Oregon native who has traveled extensively and lived in many places worldwide. Erik has his BA in Psychology.

Before working with DWT in the Nest team, Erik was an ESL teacher, working with students aged 4 to 18. Erik chose to work at DWT because of his passion for service, adventure, and the natural introspection and challenge that the work entails.

Erik offers a deep capacity for compassion and calmness, even when conversations and situations can become challenging and difficult to navigate.

During Erik’s free time, you will likely find him rock climbing at Smith Rock, creating music with friends, or catching the last sun rays of the day.

Laura Murphy Portrait

Laura Murphy, MA, MC, LPCA

Position: Therapeutic Family Visit Facilitator

Laura Murphy received her Masters in Counseling from the University of Oregon in 2020, a Fine Arts degree in dance, and has been working in a variety of therapeutic capacities since 2013. Before joining the clinical team at Deschutes Wilderness Therapy Laura worked in community mental health counseling children and families in crisis and teaching creative and emotional expression through dance. In her clinical work, Laura takes a strong family and community systems approach, believing that a child’s resiliency is a direct result of their family and community systems. Laura specializes in Brainspotting, somatic therapy, expressive arts therapies, creative arts therapies, and attachment theory. Laura utilizes art therapy, creative movement, and improv to facilitate both therapeutic exploration and somatic experiencing. Through art therapies, Laura enables adolescents and young adults to communicate their internal world when they don’t have the words to articulate it.

Laura’s clinical framework is influenced by child development theory, specifically the work of Janet Lansbury (author of No Bad Kids). Laura helps parents to gain insight into their own style, patterns, and triggers and how these things impact their parenting. Laura guides parents to approaches with their children that are developmentally aligned and respectful of their child’s capacities.

Laura loves to travel and explore, learning about how different communities and societies support and influence how people function within their group. Living overseas in Poland for several years, Laura began a lifelong journey to understand people, culture, and her own family. Laura and her family love spending time adventuring outdoors with their 2 big dogs and their energetic and curious daughter.

Leah Chambers, MA, LPC

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.

Lori Vallelunga, PhD

Position: Clinical Director, Young Adult Primary Therapist
Dr. Lori Vallelunga is a licensed clinical psychologist with more than a quarter-century of clinical and program administration experience. She comes to Deschutes Wilderness Therapy with an adventurous spirit and a passion to help others become their best selves. As Clinical Director of the Adolescent Program, Dr. Vallelunga’s skills in team building, staff communication, and support as well as program development and operations will be relied upon. She comes to her clinical approach from a positive psychology/resilience-based mindset with a strong grounding in family systems.
Dr. Vallelunga has held many leadership positions where she developed as an effective change agent. Those include Sr. Vice President, Strategic Development, The Hope Institute for Children and Families, Executive Director, PACE Center for Girls, Pinellas County, Clinical Director, The Psychological Wellness Center, Clinical Director, Central Illinois Center of The Autism Program of Illinois, among others.

Dr. Vallelunga is new to the Northwest and is excited about the adventures that await.  She recently relocated from Northeast Florida with her pack of three (well-loved) dogs. She is trying out tiny house living for the first time. Dr. Vallelunga enjoys the outdoors, exploring new places, hiking with her dogs, traveling in her camper van, and photography. She is “artsy” by nature, and her largest project to date is a river flow dining table. In the near future, she plans to own some property for her tiny house and build a large workshop for her hobbies and projects.

Mariah Vlach, MFTA

Position: Primary Therapist - Adolescent Program, Family Therapist - Nest 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.

During her M.A. program in counseling psychology, she became fascinated with studying the family system and the web that connects and influences the patterns that shape and affect a family unit. Mariah understands that it can be challenging to see the forest through the trees when identifying and addressing needed changes in one’s family system. Therefore, Mariah holds great respect and reverence for families willing to seek outside support to address these issues. She has found her calling in wilderness therapy, guiding adolescents and their families to strengthen this web through education, reflection, cathartic self-expression, inquiry, and practice. Mariah understands the natural environment of wilderness lends a deeply supportive energy that amplifies one’s innate strengths while also bolstering the therapeutic process in a way the office space setting often cannot reach. She advocates that it is through this environment and process that true healing and change are within reach.

In her personal life, Mariah likes to spend time outside with her dog, traveling, and learning all the world has to offer.

Olivia Akana

Position: Administrative Director

Olivia came to Deschutes Wilderness Therapy with experience in the facilities and real estate management space. She worked for large biotechnology companies in Boston, MA, and was responsible for new site acquisition, design, build, startup, and operation. In those roles, she developed a deep understanding of administrative and operational leadership to ensure growth and stability within an organization. Olivia believes strongly in working for a company with a meaningful purpose. Deschutes Wilderness Therapy’s mission of creating joy and healing generations and the close-knit and supportive community of coworkers has made Deschutes Wilderness Therapy a perfect fit for her.

Olivia was born and raised in the small town of Yreka, CA, in the mountains of far-Northern California & Southern Oregon. She grew up backpacking with her family, riding horses, white water rafting, playing volleyball, and performing in local musical theater. Olivia studied at Oregon State University in Corvallis, OR, and graduated with a BA in Music with an emphasis in Vocal Performance. Transferring her skills as a production manager/show director to the biotech industry after a move to Boston, she worked in the facilities and real estate industry for several years while also teaching private voice lessons and coaching High School volleyball.

Olivia decided to move back to Oregon in 2019 to be closer to the great outdoors and family again. Olivia strives to meld her Pacific Northwest roots with corporate organizational & project management skills she gained in the city to bring a balance of structure and creativity to the Deschutes Wilderness Therapy team. Olivia enjoys spending time raising chickens, hiking, swimming, playing volleyball, road biking, and singing.

Sarah Golemon-Mercer

Position: Family Intensive Coordinator and Family Specialist

Sarah joined Deschutes Nest Family Services as a Family Specialist in the summer of 2021. She graduated with a BA in Religious Community and Environmental Studies, which continues to nourish her understanding of systemic and individual healing. Sarah is passionate about family services and strives to support transformation and growth by facilitating the daily schedule, creative expression, and experiential outdoor activities. Prior to Deschutes, Sarah worked in the Midwest with families experiencing homelessness and female-gender clients struggling with addiction.

Sarah practices a holistic approach to family therapy, meaning that one must look at every individual within a system and the system itself and the environment to promote lasting positive change. Sarah came to Deschutes because she believes deeply in our mission of creating joy and healing generations. She believes this begins with re-imagining the family system, which she supports through deep listening, radical acceptance, attuned presence, and cultivating joy. In Sarah’s free time, she enjoys cooking with friends, reading, listening to bluegrass music, embodied movement, and enjoying the rich beauty of central Oregon with her friends and family.

Savanna DeLuca, M.A., LPC

Position: Family Therapist and Parent Coach

Savanna joins the Deschutes Wilderness team in 2022 excited to engage with family systems work. She brings a warm and collaborative approach to her work with clients and believes that every person has a valuable perspective and qualities that contribute to a cohesive family system. It is her goal to help families see and appreciate these unique qualities in themselves and each other in order to develop more meaningful relationships. Savanna works through a strengths-based lens and provides opportunities for clients to shine in their individual talents.

Before moving to Oregon, Savanna lived and worked in Florida where she earned her MA in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling from the University of South Florida and began her work in experiential therapy. She has worked with diverse populations but finds the most joy in her work with young adults and families. Savanna specializes in somatic, nature-based, and experiential therapy because she believes an integrated approach that considers mind, body, and environmental factors is essential to enduring lifestyle change. She holds a graduate certificate in Integrative Mental Health, is trained in brainspotting, and is a RYT-200 yoga teacher.
When not at work Savanna enjoys hiking around Bend, paddling on the river, or relaxing in the sunshine with a good book.

Tim Moore, LPC

Position: Family Therapist

Tim offers his insight into attachment, developmental trauma, and addiction by utilizing treatments grounded in interpersonal neurobiology. Sharing specific tools such as Mindsight, Heartmath, Brainspotting, and Mindfulness techniques lead to greater compassion, kindness, resilience, and well-being. Tim is is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Oregon with over 23 years of experience working as a psychotherapist. He received his undergraduate degree in psychology at The University of Oregon and did graduate work at Antioch New England Graduate School, receiving a master’s in Counseling Psychology.