Member Spotlight: Annette

Member Spotlight,

annette p headshotMeet Annette L. Pelletier!

Annette (she/her/hers) grew up in Goshen, NH and now resides in Bend, OR where she works as a Primary Therapist for Emerging & Young Adult Group at Deschutes Wilderness Therapy (Accredited by AEE since 2016). 

Tell us a bit about what you do at your organization. 
I am new to Deschutes Wilderness as their primary therapist for the Emerging/Young Adult Group. I primarily work with individuals ages 17-28. Individuals come to us for a variety of reasons, however, those I work best with are those who have deep trauma wounds that need healing. Because I am new in this role, there is not a lot I can speak to regarding a "day in the life of"... However, I can speak to the hopes I have for moving into this position and working with this population. I hope to bring in more experiential therapy, outside of the norm of wilderness, and get my get my clients more engaged in their treatment process through activity and experience. One of the ways I hope to do this is to start providing equine therapy on a consistent basis.
Tell us more about yourself! 
I was born and raised in a small town in New Hampshire. It is here that I developed a love for the outdoors, as the forest behind my house was my refuge away from the stressors of my daily life. Life was not easy for me growing up, and it is through my own difficulties and healing process that I have learned how to show up for others and help guide them through their own processes of healing.

After graduating from high school I slowly put myself through college and found my way to Texas State University where I obtained my master's degree in Social Work. This is where I met Dr. Christine Norton, who introduced me to the world of adventure therapy and one of my greatest mentors, Fred Borroel. I am forever grateful for both Christine and Fred, for their support and mentorship along the way. I would not be where I am today without them.

Throughout the years of my career I have worked in nonprofits, schools, juvenile detention facilities, wilderness therapy programs, residential treatment programs, and private practice. I enjoy the process of learning, which has allowed me to continue my education in specific areas of interest. I am a certified reality therapist, certified clinical adventure therapist, am trained in EMDR, and am certified in trauma focused equine therapy. I have most recently been participating in more trainings related to equine therapy facilitation, equine learning and training, Internal Family Systems, and Heartmath. I am very much looking forward to getting trained in Brainspotting in October!

On a more personal note, I have a very loving and supportive husband who has been my rock for the past 13 years. I have a wonderful young adult daughter and a creative teenage son. I have a wonderfully loyal and devoted epileptic dog who is coming up on 10 years old. We have had many adventures together! I have two cats, one of which was found as an orphaned kitten at one of the residential programs I worked at. And I most recently adopted three horses. I was attending a training at wild horse sanctuary where I worked with an untouched mustang...I instantly felt a level of connection with this horse that I have never been able to experience with anyone or anything else I adopted two mustangs and later rescued a horse from a kill pen in Texas. They have been wonderful additions to my life, and they have been great with some of my clients who have been able to meet and work with them therapeutically.
What excites you when you think about the future of Experiential Education?
I get most excited about the growing access for individuals to engage in experiential therapies. My hope is that insurance companies will begin to cover the cost of the much needed treatment for individuals more consistently and allow more access to individuals who otherwise would not be able to engage in such great and effective therapy.
Who or what inspires you?
My clients inspire me the most. Seeing individuals face hard things, while having to show up vulnerable and fragile is humbling. There is one client in particular that I always see in my mind when thinking about inspiration and growth. I always think, "There is hope for humanity" when I see his face. This individual has experienced trauma on levels I have never witnessed before, both as a victim and perpetrator. To see his growth and ability to heal from past wounds, all through the engagement of experiential therapy, has helped me to see every human in this world deserves as many chances as it takes to heal and find a sense of joy.
In your free time, we can probably find you:
Cuddling with my horses or scaling a rock somewhere.
How long have you been involved with AEE?
10 years!
What is the most rewarding part about being a Member of AEE?
The people I have met and connected with over the years. There are so many good people, doing great work.
Favorite Moment at AEE?
Some people may remember this moment as I speak about it...It was my first workshop with Dr. Mike Gass and I was strongly encouraged to volunteer by a beloved person, who shall not be named. We were discussing difficult clients and I provided a case example. Mike began to engage me in an experiential activity in a room full of my peers and mentors. It turned into one of the most vulnerable experiences of my life and put a microscope onto the things I still needed to work on. As a result, I returned to therapy, and avoided Mike for the next two years. But it also resulted in me doing some much needed difficult work of my own. I recall receiving a gift from someone in attendance at that workshop, it was a bottle cap that stated, "bravely done". That meant a lot coming from someone I had never met before. I still have that bottle cap as a reminder, along with a tattoo I ended up getting as a result of that experience.

Thank you Mike Gass for opening my eyes.

Find Annette here:

Current AEE Members - don’t forget that you can connect directly with members through the Member Directory (just log in!). 

Not a Member yet? Learn more & Join!

Members: want to be featured? Find the link to submit your story in your Member Compass.