Building Trust and Connection Through Climbing

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We work hard to bring underprivileged groups and individuals to our gyms to introduce the wonderful world of climbing to those who might not have otherwise found it. Erin Johnson, a family therapist at Coyote Coast Youth and Family Therapy Center, brings his young clients to several Touchstone gyms to build trust and connection through climbing.

Coyote Coast is designed to provide therapeutic support services to teens and families experiencing emotional, behavioral, and substance-related difficulties. Their programs specialize in providing support to families who are considering out-of-home placements such as wilderness programs, therapeutic boarding schools, residential treatment centers, and rehabilitation programs, and we work extensively with teens returning from these experiences.

We received this wonderful thank you letter from Erin telling us about a recent experience with one of his clients.

I wanted to take a moment to thank you so much for making Berkeley Ironworks available to the young men that I work with.  I feel that helping today’s young people get physical constructive way, gives them a way to deal with their emotions and is invaluable.  Engaging in activities that are meaningful and entertaining is an amazing way to connect with young people and to get through what is often very strong resistance to therapy.
168c2d0e-416b-4149-a207-79bedaeabf79A couple of moments really stood out to me.  The first is when I was working with client S. D. It took many attempts to get his belay test all done, but when he was done, he was very excited to belay for me.  It was amazing how our relationship changed after I put that kind of faith in his skills.  It was very empowering for him!  “You really have to trust me, don’t you!” S.D. called up to me as I was climbing. 
Whenever I meet with him now, he always asks if we are going to go to the climbing gym. Before we had activities like this, he was fairly resistant to spending time with me. But once again this format is amazing for doing therapy with him.  I already know what I’m going to hear in our next session, “Are we going to Ironworks? ARE WE GOING TO IRONWORKS?!”  
Once again thank you very much for this great opportunity.  
Erin Johnson MFTI