Sometimes a child needs a change of environment to get away from negative influences, break old habits, and gain new perspectives. For many teens, a change of location provides an opportunity for a new start. Turning Winds provides a safe, nurturing refuge when their home is no longer the best place for your child.
But Turning Winds offers not just a simple change of location—the campus is part of a restorative landscape many of our clients have never encountered before. It is located in the town of Troy in beautiful northwestern Montana. Our facilities are nestled in the Purcell Mountains on more than 150 acres. The south fork of the Yaak River runs through the entire property and is great for fishing and swimming in the summer. Outdoor activities are easily accessible from our back door. The outdoors is an essential component of our therapeutic program, and our pristine location is one of the reasons for our success.
“Connecting with the natural world is super important,” says clinical director Jared Sartell, LCSW. “We’re in the mountains, surrounded by lakes and rivers. We’re able to tap into the natural world and slow people down and kind of connect them with the movements of the Earth, to see what’s around them when they stop and pay attention, and it’s just very calming.”
Data show us that time in nature is incredibly helpful for our mental and physical health. “Just that alone is similar to a family going on vacation to somewhere quiet,” Sartell says. “It allows them to sort of disconnect from the world and kind of recenter all sorts of things. That’s absolutely fundamental to our program here.”
“Loneliness hangs over our culture today like a thick smog,” wrote Johan Hari in his 2018 book Lost Connections in which he sought to uncover “the real causes” of depression. Among nine causes of depression and anxiety, Hari listed being “disconnected from the natural world.”
Hari believes that humans have an innate love for landscapes and that faced with a natural landscape, people have a sense that they and their concerns are very small which he considers
“a metaphor for belonging to a grander system.”
And that sense of belonging is the perfect antidote for anxiety, depression, and the urge to misuse psychoactive substances to numb emotional pain. “The natural beauty of Montana sets the stage for our students—it enables them to take a break from the world that they were living in,” says Sartell. “From the chaos that they had been creating for themselves and in their family, from the access to constant entertainment and constant distractions.”
Turning Winds uses the expansive landscape of Montana to combine adventure therapy, experiential education, and psycho-educational therapy. Experiential learning is based on the assumption that lasting change can occur when people are placed outside their familiar comfort environment and immersed in new and thus somewhat challenging situations.
“I really enjoy utilizing the mountains we have here,” says Sartell. “We utilize different resources that are available within our communities and just within this mountainous region. Getting them to do activities that are healthy, that are positive, can give them outlets for their stress so they can replace the negative patterns and behaviors they had with healthy ones. We are super innovative in our approach and offer whatever we can think of to help our students have a good experience and learn how to live as healthy people—that is our ultimate goal.”
At Turning Winds, it’s not only the spectacular landscape but also the people who make a difference. We’ve built a team of some of the world’s finest academic and therapeutic professionals, all of whom share the same goal: to help teens re-engage meaningfully with their lives, their families, and their futures. For more information, call us at 800-845-1380. If your call isn’t answered personally, one of us will get back to you as soon as possible.