We had the good fortune of connecting with Amanda Talley and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Amanda, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I love this question! The topic of risk is something I research and think a lot about; it’s also something I’m learning to take action on in my own life, both personally and professionally. I think risk is inherent to life and is essential to our growth and sense of vitality. Defining risk is so personal and subjective because what’s risky to me may be nothing to you and vice-versa. When I think about risk, I think it has a lot to do with fear and failure… two things that can tell you a lot about yourself. By taking risks, we learn about our own strengths and limits. Risk brings together this incredible sense of vulnerability and strength which can produce a healthy sense of confidence, self-understanding, and meaningful connection with others. Risk-taking was actually a big factor in my stepping out to launch my dream: Wildernew® Outdoor Therapy. In 2018, I attended an Outdoor Educator Course through the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and I was pretty comfortable spending 16 days backpacking through the Wyoming wilderness, but when it came to our week of rock-climbing, I was out of my element. I was scared and uncomfortable; there were a lot of unknowns and it was hard to push myself. Despite my fear, I took risks and I learned and grew the most as a result of it. I had to face myself–my thoughts, my attitudes, my fear, desire for competence and security–and challenge that. As a result, I came away with the goal to take more risks and do more things that scare me. Upon returning from that trip, it became evident that the biggest risk I could take was to launch my dream of Wildernew into the wild, which I did in 2019. Now, risk is something I try to incorporate into my work with clients, encouraging them to take risks in meaningful ways and even offering the platform to do so in counseling sessions.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Wildernew® Outdoor Therapy is an outpatient counseling practice in the Dallas area. What sets Wildernew apart is that we offer clients the option to participate in sessions at a local nature preserve while hiking, walking or sitting outdoors. The name, Wildernew, combines the words “wilderness” and “new” to highlight the potential newness that may arise out of a literal or metaphorical wilderness experience. The literal wilderness describes a complex place which can be chaotic, unknown and harsh while also displaying an abundance of life, order and possibility. Metaphorically, wilderness may describe a time when one’s life feels out of balance with a loss of purpose, direction or identity. Yet, it is precisely this state that can lead to deep reflection and understanding that results in meaningful change. Wildernew captures the complex process of therapy; whether you join me inside on the couch or outside in the nature preserve, the process is the same, but the method is different. Despite the discomfort and challenges, this wilderness allows for perspective and realignment with what is most important in life, and in the process, it can provide renewal, reorientation, growth and vitality. The dream to combine counseling and the outdoors really began in 2006 after completing undergraduate studies in psychology and an epic adventure exploring much of the beautiful outdoors around the US. The path was long and winding, including many years of seemingly unrelated work, exploring options for graduate school, pursuing a Master’s in Counseling, followed by many years and hours toward licensure and professional experience in various settings and the outdoor educator course with NOLS. It required a great deal of patience and perseverance! Perhaps the most challenging aspect has been forging my own path because utilizing the outdoors in outpatient therapy is a relatively new venture in the world of therapy. There hasn’t been a designated training or program for it (though they have begun to show up a bit more in the last couple years), so in many ways I’ve developed my own vision based off of my education, personal experiences, extensive reading and research, and conversations with peers and professionals in the world of mental health and outdoor education/adventure. These things also helped keep me focused and pressing on when the dream felt distant. Along the way, I’ve been reminded of how connected we are with our natural world and how beneficial it is for our overall health. I’ve learned that it’s worth it to hire professionals who can support me with their expertise in things like design and accounting so I can focus on other aspects of the business and feel confident that things are done well. I am also learning that the work is never done and it’s always worth it!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
These days I spend a lot of my free time exploring local parks and nature preserves, and I prefer to keep things low key. Cedar Ridge, Arbor Hills, Oak Point Park (zip line!), Ft. Worth Nature Center and The Dallas Arboretum would probably show up on the itinerary. We’d eat Texas BBQ at Terry Black’s and explore a bit of Deep Ellum, traverse over to Klyde Warren then venture up to The Truck Yard. Tex-mex would be on the list, likely Mi Cocina because it’s iconic around here. Bishop Arts District, The Perot and Reunion Tower would all be on the list. Dallas has a lot of cool spots and more are popping up all the time… but I’m not the best at keeping up with all of it.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Where do I even begin? There are so many leaders, peers, friends and family who have believed in me and my dream–I am fortunate to say it’s more than I could possibly acknowledge in this space. If I had to choose only one, it would be my husband. Our relationship was founded on our shared enthusiasm for the outdoors and spirit of adventure; our friendship began many years ago with me sharing my dream to combine counseling and the outdoors. He has always believed in me and my dream and supports it as if it was his own. He continues to dream big with me every day! A second shoutout, if I may, is to Jarrett Johnston who captured the vision for Wildernew and brought it to life with flawless branding and design.