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Expanse Wilderness Program Description

Is your young adult struggling? Are they worried about their future? Is it a challenge for them to navigate the day-to-day activities and responsibilities of everyday life? Are they adopting maladaptive coping behaviors such as, self-medicating with drugs, alcohol, sex, or excessive screen time? Does your young adult isolate, threaten self-harm or suicide? These, and other challenges, can stem from clinical diagnoses or situational stress and anxiety.

Expanse Wilderness is an established, top-rated treatment program for struggling young adults. We specialize in helping those who are battling with anxiety, lack of confidence, poor social-engagement, substance abuse, day-to-day self-care, loneliness, self-harm, gender identity, sexual orientation and many other difficult situations or diagnoses.

If you are a parent facing any of these realities, or other difficult challenges, please realize you are not alone. At Expanse we know the road you’re traveling, and we can help!

Expanse Wilderness founder Shayne Gallagher, along with Clinical Director John Cohen, have over 50 plus years of combined dynamic therapeutic experience and know how to reach those who, at times, seem unreachable. Our well-rounded approach is designed to provide help for struggling young adults, in a caring and supportive environment. Our program encourages and empowers young adults to make lasting change and achieve long-term success.

Set in the serene and beautiful environment of the Grand-Staircase National Monument, Expanse Wilderness provides a peaceful setting in which young adults can confront and conquer personal challenges. The relational treatment model and program structure provides the support young adults need and offers a clear path to healing. We are here for them! And, we are here for you! The first step is to call.

Talk to a Family Advocacy Expert now at or APPLY HERE

How Expanse Works

Every young adult participant in our program undergoes an initial evaluation, which determines their treatment path. We believe in providing an Individualized Treatment Plan for each young adult, giving them the opportunity to have a personalized experience which is tailored to meet their needs and accentuate their strengths.

The Individualized Treatment Plan consists of, but is not limited to the following:

  • Comprehensive Career Assessment;
  • Pre and post-program coaching;
  • Weekly individual therapy sessions with a licensed therapist;
  • Weekly individual session session with a Life coach;
  • 4 weekly group sessions run by a professional;
  • Daily mindfulness activties (Meditation, Yoga, Tai Chi);
  • Brainspotting (trauma treatment);
  • Daily staff coaching;
  • An Actual Wilderness Experience (A.W.E.™).

Additional personalized components are added to each treatment plan according to the initial assessment and as determined throughout their Wilderness experience.

Because we employ the relational treatment model, we are able to focus on the individual. We see YOU!

Who Will Be Working with Your Child at Expanse?

Every student at Expanse is under the care of our industry’s top rated professionals as part of their day to day living and overall treatment plan. From the initial phone call with our Admissions team, to the day to day experiences with our exceptional Clinical and Medical Personnel and highly trained Field Staff, your journey with Expanse will be an adventure filled with empowerment, personal growth and change.

Go here to Meet Our Team

A Typical Week at Expanse Wilderness

Expanse student relaxing in a beautiful red rock cave

A Typical Week at Expanse wilderness is something you have to experience to fully understand. Living purposefully in the wilderness takes determination and heart. Each day is designed to bring down comfort zones and force each student to come face to face with themselves in a way they never have before.

From the very first day they are introduced to rituals and practices that challenge them to see the world differently, to gain new perspectives on the relationships in their lives and to become acquainted with how and why they make decisions. Every aspect of their daily routine has purpose and meaning. As they settle into their new life in the wilderness, without the distractions and interruptions that used to dominate their day, they begin to let down their walls and see the world around them through new eyes.

Nearly every day, time is set aside for our students to have time to create their own morning routine of contemplation, meditation, or prayer. This morning ritual is critical to helping them understand their own minds and work towards controlling the thoughts and attitudes that drive their emotional state throughout the day. The place where this happens is called their 'personal circle.'

In addition, every day each student has the opportunity to work on and accomplish therapy assignments from their therapist, reading, and other work during Personal Mentoring Time (PMT).

PMT is also a time for staff to check in with students personally. Students will keep track of what they do every day and get in the habit of setting goals during 'Day Track.' They choose what they will listen to, participate in, and sometimes lead others in group discussions called 'WindSpeaks.' The goal of Windspeaks is to choose topics that enable them to become more mentally and emotionally self-aware.

Our students also get the chance to make primitive wilderness crafts like spoons, moccasins, leather goods, and even the occasional bow and arrow. Interspersed in these activities is their therapy and life coaching work, which focuses their attention on those issues for which they came to the wilderness to work.

Hiking is the main activity at Expanse and provides therapeutic benefits to the students. Hiking helps establish self-sufficiency, which is something that many young adults lack. Moving between campsites with only a pack on your back helps foster self-reliance and confidence. The physical exercise part of hiking is a healthy coping mechanism that enables accelerated healing of the mind and body.

Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays are typical 'layover days.' On these days, the group doesn't hike. Layover days are utilized as therapy and life coaching days when our therapists and life coaches come out to do individual sessions and groups. It is at this time when active field staff rotates out, and the new staff rotates in.

Layover days are a good opportunity for students to make goals, prepare for the week, build items, finish letters to parents, work on therapeutic assignments tailored specifically to them, and to otherwise get things done without having a hike as part of the day.

The rest of the days of the week are typical "hiking days." On these days, the group packs up camp and hikes to a new location. There are chores that need to be attended to in cleaning up camp and in setting up a new site. Hikes vary in length according to the capabilities of the group members, the weather, and the season.

Much of what can be accomplished on the non-hiking days can also be done on the hiking days as well.

A Typical Day in the Wilderness

Morning Routine

  • Wakeup
  • Mindfulness/Meditation/Yoga
  • Day Track
  • Hygiene
  • Breakfast
  • Camp Cleanup

Afternoon Routine

  • Hike
  • Setup Personal Sites
  • PMT / Skills
  • Hygiene
  • Dinner
  • Windspeak
  • Bed