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Dr. Wei Motulsky (he/they)

Wei joined Momma on November 29, 2021 to talk about Wilderness Therapy

About Wei

Quick update! Wei officially has their PhD now!!! CONGRATS!

Wei Motulsky, M.A., M.Phil. is a Ph.D. candidate in Counseling Psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University. He is currently finishing his clinical fellowship at Mount Sinai Morningside and West, one of the most competitive placements in the country. Previously, Wei was a clinician at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine World Trade Center Mental Health Clinic, where they worked with 9/11 first responders and volunteers. His research focuses on minority stress in LGBTQ populations across a variety of contexts (gaming, wilderness therapy, online dating). Wei will be defending their dissertation on LGBTQ mental health outcomes in wilderness therapy next month and is expected to graduate in the spring of 2022. In his free time, Wei runs, plays video games, watches tacky horror movies with his wife, and spends time with his dog and three cats. 

Episode Summary

In this interview, MommaFoxFire engages in a conversation with Dr. Wei Motulsky, exploring the topic of Wilderness Therapy. Wei Motulsky, a researcher and clinician, shares valuable perspectives on the intersection of mental health and nature-based therapeutic interventions.

The interview delves into the core principles of Wilderness Therapy, emphasizing the transformative potential of immersing individuals in nature to address mental health struggles. Wei draws from their experiences and research, highlighting the notion of Wilderness Therapy as a form of "reset" for individuals facing challenges in traditional therapeutic settings. By removing individuals from their familiar and potentially harmful environments, Wilderness Therapy offers a unique opportunity for a fresh start.

Throughout the conversation, Wei addresses the demographic challenges within Wilderness Therapy, acknowledging that the cost and accessibility of such programs often limit participation, resulting in a predominantly white and able-bodied population. This raises questions about inclusivity and the need for Wilderness Therapy to adapt to better serve individuals from marginalized communities.

The interview explores the specific benefits of Wilderness Therapy for LGBTQ populations, emphasizing the potential for a reset in a supportive environment. However, Wei acknowledges the current lack of diversity in these programs, indicating the need for greater multicultural competence within Wilderness Therapy to cater to the unique needs of individuals with marginalized identities.

The conversation also sheds light on the rigorous structure of Wilderness Therapy programs, including strict rules on clothing, communication, and even attempts to run away. Wei shares anecdotes illustrating the intensity of these programs, emphasizing the challenges and potential drawbacks, especially for individuals with physical differences.

Age is discussed as a factor in Wilderness Therapy, with Wei dispelling the misconception that the therapy is only effective for a specific age group. While traditionally targeted at individuals between 13 and 25, the researcher suggests that the benefits of Wilderness Therapy extend beyond these age limits, challenging the established norms in the field.

Wei reflects on their own experiences as a therapist and the importance of personal therapy for mental health care providers. Acknowledging the demanding nature of the profession, the researcher advocates for therapists to undergo therapy themselves, fostering self-awareness and ensuring their well-being.

Towards the end of the interview, Wei opens up about their personal journey, sharing plans for an impulsive purchase after completing their dissertation. The conversation concludes on a lighter note, providing a glimpse into the researcher's post-academic aspirations and the anticipation of a celebratory TV purchase.

In summary, the "Even Tacos Fall Apart" podcast episode featuring Wei Motulsky offers a comprehensive exploration of Wilderness Therapy, covering its benefits, challenges, and the need for greater inclusivity. The engaging conversation provides valuable insights into a therapeutic approach that seeks to reconnect individuals with nature to promote mental health and well-being.