My name is Mark Lees and I was born in Detroit, Michigan and moved to San Diego in 1976. I now live in Oceanside, California. I have a son, Sam, age 27, who is a large part of the inspiration for Hiker Therapy and the one who thankfully got me interested in Hiking back in 2012. I have a Masters degree in psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy from Chapman University, as well as a certification from California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals the governing body of providers in the state.
For fun and self-care I like to Hike, Gym, meditation, breathing exercises, Starbucks to both energize and relax, see as many MLB and Hockey games as I can, open to all music, and find fun places to eat and play at in San Diego County and beyond.
Besides my education, I also have 10+ years of experience working with individuals ages 12-75, and families, who have had relationship and life challenges, crisis, ongoing unmanageable anxiety, depression and out of control behaviors related to mental health disorders and alcohol and drug abuse/addiction. I currently work counseling and case managing homeless veterans whom have/had mental health and substance abuse disorders. I have also worked with youth in the capacity as a teacher, counselor and trusted mentor.
I consider myself a motivator, a life coach, a recovery coach, a counselor and a teacher. My MA In Psychology with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy serves me well in these skill sets. My Interventions include a solution focused approach which enables my client to build on “whats good” as well as developing an awareness of who they are and what they want to become. I also feel that by identifying and correcting automatic negative thinking…..skills to learn how to develop positive thoughts feelings and behaviors can be consistently attained.
How HikerTherapy Got Started
I have always been someone who has participated in sports over the course of my life and in recent years have stayed active in the gym, biking, running and numerous outdoor activities. However, a sport that I hadn’t participated in until recent years was hiking. Looking for a way for us to do something together and rebuild our relationship my son Sam suggested we do a hike. Our first hike was in January of 2012 at Torrey Pines, San Diego, CA. Our hiking bond led us to Summiting Mt. Whitney, at 14,508′ the highest Mountain Peak in the 48 Contiguous United States in September of 2016. As far as our personal and relationship bond, the more hikes we did together the more we both shared of ourselves to the other thus building and strengthening the bond between us. This was all the inspiration I needed to create the idea of HikerTherapy.
I have incorporated Hiker Therapy into numerous counseling employment positions, including my current work with homeless veterans. It never ceases to amaze me the change of attitude and willingness to share the clients I work with experience when we get out of the “office” 4-wall environment and hit the sidewalk, trail, neighborhood we walk/hike in. Not only do I notice the change in the clients I work with, but I too, although still professional, undergo a freeing feeling become more receptive and much more in tune to all my senses as we hike/walk.
I hope you find the commentary, information and insights on these pages of benefit and motivation to explore the world of HikerTherapy.
Mark Lees, M.A., CACD-CAS