The Executive Director of Open to Hope spoke with Jason Stout of Outward Bound during the 2015 Association of Death and Counseling Conference. When asked about how he got into this field, Stout responded, “I fell in love with the mission.” Personal growth via a challenge is something that everyone faces, including when losing a loved one. Horsley’s personal experience with Outward Bound was life changing, and she sees why Stout has been with the organization for 14 years. At 20, Horsley’s brother and cousin died in a car crash. Unsure of how she could move forward after such a loss, she went to Outward Bound.

“I not only found the will to live, I found passion and meaning in my life,” she tells Stout. He explains that Outward Bound, being a challenging experience, “takes us out of our comfort zone.” It’s teeming with outdoor expeditions, from mountaineering to sailing, that are far away from family and friends. “We discover who we are…and we succeed as well.” Horsley is quick to point out that you don’t need to be an athlete in order to participate. It’s suited for everyone.

Heroic Journeys

This Outward Bound program is just for teens, featuring a seven-day trip that’s grief-centric. You get “the space to grieve in the outdoors,” says Stout. Teens are a unique demographic that require innovative approaches to learning how to grieve. “We’ll climb a mountain, and dedicate it to the person who died,” he gives as an example. Rich with ceremony and tasks, “We’re actually having a lot of fun,” Stout says. Surrounding yourself with beauty can be a fantastic way to heal. “We teach through the mountains,” he says.

“A lot of us when we’re grieving, we get stuck in that grief,” Stout explains, but with an expedition you’re heading out to learn about yourself. You’re sharing. You’re developing life skills.




Heidi Horsley

Dr. Heidi Horsley is an international grief expert, licensed psychologist, and social worker. She is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Open to Hope Foundation, one of the largest internet grief resources, with over 2 million yearly visitors. She hosts the award-winning Open to Hope cable television show and podcast. Dr. Heidi is an adjunct professor at Columbia University. She serves on the ​National Board of Directors for The Compassionate Friends, the largest peer to peer support organization in the world. She also serves on the National Advisory Board for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). TAPS has served over 50,000 military families who have suffered a loss. In addition, she serves on the National Advisory Board for the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Foundation, and the Children's Brain Tumor Foundation. Dr. Heidi is on the VIP section of Marquis Who's Who in America, Madison Who's Who, and Who's Who of American Women. Dr. Heidi has co-authored eight books, including; Spouse Loss; Fresh Grief; Inspirational Stories for Handling the Holidays After Loss; Inspirational Stories of Healing After Loss; Real Men Do Cry; A Quarterbacks Inspiring Story of Tackling Depression & Surviving Suicide; Teen Grief Relief: Parenting with Understanding Support and Guidance; and Signs and Hope From Heaven. She has appeared on the ABC television show 20/20, has been interviewed by numerous media outlets, and has been a guest on hundreds of radio shows as well as quoted in dozens of media publications, including the Metro World News, Washington Post, Time Magazine, Newsday, Money Magazine, and New York Daily News. Dr. Heidi is also the author of numerous articles and academic book chapters. Dr. Heidi gives keynotes, presentations, and workshops throughout the country, and teaches continuing education workshops for health care professionals on support following trauma and tragedy. For 10 yrs., Dr. Heidi worked as a co-investigator for the FDNY-Columbia University Family Guidance Program; a study which looked at traumatic loss in families of firefighters killed in the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks. Through this 9/11 study, Dr. Heidi provided ongoing intervention and follow-up to firefighter widows and their children, and facilitated groups for bereaved siblings. In addition, Dr. Heidi supervised the school social work staff at Harlem Democracy Charter Schools in NYC for four years. Dr. Heidi's early career included work in a variety of clinical settings, including; Manhattan Psychiatric Center, California Pacific Medical Center Psychiatry Dept., University of San Francisco Mental Health Clinic, St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital Psychiatry Dept., and Hope Haven Residential Treatment Center in New Orleans. Her doctoral dissertation was on the sudden death of a sibling. Her academic credentials include a doctorate in Psychology (PsyD) from the University of San Francisco; a Masters degree in social work (LMSW) from Columbia University, and a Masters degree in mental health counseling (MS) from Loyola University, in New Orleans. Dr. Heidi splits her time between NYC and Tucson AZ.

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