Family Support

Helping the Entire Family System in Our Therapeutic Wilderness Program

Dr. Murray Bowen, the father of family systems theory, suggests that individuals cannot be understood in isolation from one another, but need to be evaluated as a whole family unit. Therefore, our family systems program assesses how the client and the family interact in and out of their environment to identify new systems, tools, and goals for future interactions.

Our goal is not to assign blame. Rather, our goal is to help chart a new way forward.

Simply, in our experience, without changes back at home, the success at blueFire rarely lasts once a child returns.

Upon enrollment, parents receive a book to help them recognize possible actions, behaviors, or changes that need to take place within the family system. Parents will also be on a weekly phone call with their child’s therapist and be active members of the treatment team. In addition, parents can participate in a monthly, therapist lead, parent support group, and a monthly webinar offered by our therapists.

Family therapy, with your child, starts at weeks 3-4 via phone and video conference during the therapeutic wilderness program and is then every other week after that.  Huge changes and shifts are seen by the parents and the clients during these sessions.  Family systems work continues at the Family Spark Workshop near the end of the program. In addition to the great work that will be done on-site during this workshop, families enjoy reconnecting with their child, witnessing the changes underway, work on conflict resolution, have a better understanding of the roles that everyone plays within the family system and then being a part of their child's graduation.

Our focus is on your family

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The "Spark" of Family Change

The Family Spark is a Four-Day Retreat Focused on Helping Clients and Parents Bring Positive Changes Home

Our beautiful wilderness backdrop provides the perfect setting for the families to come together while addressing family issues at a 4-day intensive family retreat called Family Spark.

The Family Spark Workshop is an immersive family therapeutic experience where parents get a chance to see first-hand the behavioral changes being made at our therapeutic wilderness program. The focus of the Family Spark Workshop is helping parents learn how to transition positive changes home. During our workshop retreat, families learn about the program, how to repair relationships and gain a better understanding of therapeutic processing as a family unit.

The Family Spark therapeutic wilderness program occurs near the end of a client’s time at blueFire. This provides time for clients to make progress and work on their individual challenges. By having the families participate just before their child's graduation, family members back home have ample time to develop and practice new skills and prepare for their child’s eventual return.

The true success of our program is found in the weeks, months and years after a child leaves blueFire.

Helping Families

Part of the goal of Family Spark is to help parents identify what they can do to shift the dynamics of their families to be a healthier, more supportive environment for their children. Therapists provide models and examples that help parents assess and practice changes with the support and guidance of staff. Families will get to a place of empowerment where they are able to communicate effectively. 

Family Spark gives families the opportunity to connect with others in similar situations and helps them know they are not alone. Building connections, getting feedback and exploring new ideas on parenting provide valuable insight to families that they will take with them post treatment.

At the end of Family Spark, families will enjoy intentional, positive family time. With the support of clinicians, families can begin to explore the changing dynamics in a guided environment. Rebuilding these connections is vital to a positive, effective transition home or onto other treatment programs. 


During the Family Spark Workshop, we work on:

  • Family reunification
  • Equine therapy
  • Adventure activities and processing
  • Family therapy with primary therapist
  • Parent workshop to provide tools for future success
  • Review of psychological testing when appropriate
  • Comfortable overnight camping
  • Evaluation and planning for future plans

Repairing and Rebuilding Family Relationships

The family is the core unit. Our blueFire team starts with the child to help rebuild their relationships. Then, we work to repair family relations and strive to reintegrate clients into the family unit. We do this with weekly video journaling with clients to communicate the successes and struggles that they’ve had while participating in the different activities. Parents get to see and hear the changes that are occurring week to week. Parents are asked to participate in weekly phone calls with the primary therapist, as well as correspond with their child through video messages and letters.

The Family Spark therapeutic wilderness program is an integral part of rebuilding the family dynamic and beginning the changes that can occur after the blueFire therapeutic wilderness program experience ends.

We seldom see lasting change occur without strong family involvement.  No one exists in a vacuum; therefore, it is by the support of family members that the individual is able to carry the change that happens at blueFire onto the next chapter of their life.

Want to Learn More

We are happy to answer any question you have about bluefire wilderness