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Neal Christensen, PhD, LP

Clinical Director, Co-Owner
neal@elementswilderness.com

Neal has been working with youth in Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare for over 10 years.  He has treated a wide variety of adolescents, including students dealing with depression and anxiety, ADHD and other learning disabilities, substance abuse, Autism Spectrum, and identity related issues including adoption and sexual orientation.

Neal works great with adolescent males, who are often misunderstood and often seen as disruptive, distant, or defiant.  He has found that many of these behaviors only serve as a mask for other underlying mental health problems, developmental issues, or other life challenges.  Neal is patient, compassionate and direct, and gains the respect and rapport of the many kids and families with whom he works alongside.

Neal gets at the therapeutic issues in creative and pragmatic ways.  He does so with an authentic and genuine approach, and advocates for the students he serves to help them achieve their greatest potential.

Neal believes that today’s society has not socialized boys to understand or accept their emotional selves, thus making it difficult for them to communicate their needs and desires effectively.  His experience is that boys turn towards drugs or videogames, among other avoidant behaviors, as ways of escaping the feelings they do not understand and cannot resolve.

Neal reaches youth who have not been reached before in therapy.

A distinguishing note, Neal completed his doctoral dissertation in the field of Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare (OBH).   He evaluated the effectiveness of an OBH program on increasing hope and motivation, enhancing personal agency, and reducing problematic behavioral and emotional symptomology.  The study demonstrated positive and significant outcomes and showed support for the use of OBH as an effective intervention to help troubled youth who struggle in traditional settings and other therapeutic treatments.  Neal continues to engage in and support current OBH research.  He is published in the Journal of National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs.  The case study is one of the students he treated with past sexual trauma, titled “Healing Sexual Trauma in the Wilderness”.

Neal has utilized a multitude of therapeutic approaches to address mental health issues, and has great understanding of psychological assessment.  He has a specialization in Testing & Assessment and has performed various assessments including academic testing, general psychological and personality testing, neuropsychological testing, and competency assessments.  He finds psychological testing to be highly useful in the treatment planning and treatment execution while his students are in the wilderness.