A calm-natured dad for TBH clients

By Mary McPhail Gray, board chair of TBH
Posted 6/6/19

The most important variable in successful clinical work is a meaningful relationship between a client and the therapist. The most successful therapists are often those with rich varied life …

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A calm-natured dad for TBH clients


The most important variable in successful clinical work is a meaningful relationship between a client and the therapist. The most successful therapists are often those with rich varied life experiences--giving them insights and comfortableness with a variety of human challenges. An outstanding example of such a clinician is our "calm dad" at Taos Behavioral Health, David Martin.

"I am deeply impressed by the attachments that develop between youth and the staff in our work at TBH," said Martin. "I think I provide a sense of safety to youth who have experienced frightening and stressful events in their lives. By nature, I am calm and reliable, and I think the youth sense that."

Martin says that he knows he was fortunate to have a strong family foundation. Even though his father was conservative and Germanic, he saw that Martin's vagabond spirit also included a deep sense of commitment and work ethic. "Whatever I started, I gave it my all and wanted to learn everything to be successful at it," said Martin.

His curiosity and interest in outdoor adventure led him to expedition leadership positions with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLES).

NOLES was founded by a member of the 10th Mountain Army Division who wanted to share the lessons of the mountains and wilderness with people who faced life challenges. The expeditions included hiking, mountain climbing, backpacking, white water canoeing, teamwork, leadership skills and medical skills. The school spoke to Martin's love of the outdoors and belief in the power of the wilderness. He learned more about the field of wilderness therapy and valued the fact that nature provides immediate feedback on decision-making by individuals and teams.

Martin worked on his undergraduate degree off and on through the years as he participated in the expeditions, where you are on 24/7 and then have a break. He and his wife moved to Taos in 2005 and he enjoyed hiking, fishing, canoeing and gardening between his expeditions.

For seven years, he was a senior field guide at Open Sky Wilderness Therapy Program in Durango, Colorado. He comments that one of the rich experiences of that work was the inclusive curriculum. Mindfulness, healthy nutrition, yoga and other therapeutic models were included in the wilderness activities.

Along the way, he completed a year's certificate training from the New Mexico Filmmakers Intensive in Santa Fe, where he learned that he loved black-and-white photography and enjoyed film production. In spite of his deep immersion in film, he decided that the culture of the film industry was not for him and instead completed a master's in clinical mental health counseling at Adams State University.

As a master's intern, Martin worked at Tri-County Behavioral Health in the ACT program and was hired full time after he graduated. When that agency closed, he was hired at TBH especially due to his deep experience in wilderness therapy and extensive work with teens. As TBH continues to explore a residential treatment center or residential group home with a strong wilderness emphasis, Martin is part of an experienced team that can implement those models.

Since joining TBH, Martin has worked as a clinician at the Cyber Magnate School and Taos High School in addition to the Familia y Mundo therapeutic afterschool program. This summer he is one of the lead group clinicians at the FyM summer camp. The program includes plenty of outdoor activities where Martin's deep experience is invaluable. Knowledgeable from work with ages from elementary school through adulthood, Martin is comfortable with change, challenge and attachments: "I see the value of the work we do, and I am fortunate to be a part of it."

We are delighted that Martin is part of our team.

TBH has the largest licensed and credentialed behavioral health staff in Northern New Mexico. Reach us at (575) 758-4297, taosbehavioralhealth.org or 105 Bertha Street in Taos.

Mary McPhail Gray is the board chair of TBH and can be reached at (575) 779-3126 or mcphailconsulting@gmail.com.


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