Lynn Smith, LCSW
Primary Therapist & Co-Founder
Working in therapeutic wilderness programs is a natural fit for Lynn as it combines his enthusiasm for outdoor recreation, passion for personal growth and graduate training in social work. Lynn’s specialty is using the wilderness to promote insight, motivation and change in adolescents. Lynn has worked with adolescents in many therapeutic settings, including residential treatment centers, therapeutic boarding schools, group homes and an outpatient substance abuse counseling clinics. Lynn started his career in wilderness therapy as a field instructor in 1994 for Aspen Achievement Academy. He later joined a multi-site wilderness therapy program where he trained new staff, mentored senior field instructors and served as a wilderness therapist.
In addition to earning a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in clinical social work at the University of Utah, Lynn also completed a one year substance abuse treatment certificate program. This training included an internship as a substance abuse counselor in a program that served inmates in the Utah state prison system. Substance abuse and dependence continue to be a focus of Lynn’s clinical practice and he believes the wilderness is an ideal setting to start the course of recovery. Lynn was instrumental in incorporating the Seven Challenges counseling program at Elements. He believes that this model is an effective way to train Field Mentors to create an atmosphere where students will be more willing to honestly explore substance use patterns.
While in graduate school he completed an advanced practicum working with children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, and an additional practicum at the Veterans Administration mental health division. In this setting, Lynn worked with veterans suffering from a wide variety of mental health issues related to traumatic experiences while serving in the military. His most rewarding experience at the hospital was co-facilitating a therapy group for WWII veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Lynn has been able to build off his training and experiences in graduate school to identify and work well with young people with mild neurodevelopmental disorders. Lynn also works well with young men who have experienced trauma. Lynn uses a mix of traditional cognitive approaches as well as his training in Brainspotting to support his clients work towards healing from traumatic stress.
Lynn is originally from Northern California and grew up playing in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. He spends much of his free time enjoying the mountains and deserts of Utah with his wife and two children. He enjoys snowboarding, skiing, biking, rock climbing, canyoneering, fishing, backpacking and traveling.
Listen to Lynn speak about his time in wilderness and the intentions behind starting Elements.