Podcast: Stories From The Field: Demystifing Wilderness Therapy
Episode 44: Karen Scrafford, Co-founder of Elements Wilderness Therapy
This podcast was enlightening to listen to as it brought several questions and considerations to mind. It led me towards a bit of a life choice crisis as I lost sight of what I wanted to do.
As a current student whose goal it is to enter and thrive in this field, it was pretty disheartening to hear about the lack of upward mobility and the struggles and ultimately fortunate timing for Karen as she moved from being a field guide to assistant field director at Second Nature.
I have always recognized the dichotomy of high burnout rates and extreme longevity of professionals in the field, but this was the first time I spent considerable time trying to design a 5, 10, 20, and 30 year plan for myself. Many organizations are small businesses and privately owned and run, often by the original founders. Additionally, the companies are usually based off of field guides, with then only one or two levels of hierarchy above them. You only really need a logistics coordinator, operations director, director, and maybe assistant director.
This led me to think about alternative ways to be in the field but as an outsourced agent. The most common way probably is through being a licensed counselor or psychologist or psychiatrist. Which would require going to grad school and obtaining a licensed for a specific state. I had often though about going to grad school so that once, if, I became unable to be a field guide I could hold a private practice and not be required to consistently lift and carry a minimum of 50 lbs.
I am still sure of my path for Wilderness Therapy, but am beginning to understand future plans and consequences of this field. As a friend of a friend once told me about the field, “You’ve got to do it for yourself in order to keep your passion alive.”
Whether it is white water kayaking, climbing, endurance trail runs, or riding horses if we only practice what we love when we are working then we are at risk of losing what we love.