New Therapist at Lone Star Expeditions Introduces Music Therapy into the Woods

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Bilingual therapist, Joe Arizmendi, Jr., joins Lone Star's elite team of clinical professionals.

I'm thrilled to be joining an organization with such a strong reputation for clinical excellence and outstanding leadership in a setting that really makes a difference

Lone Star Expeditions, a therapeutic wilderness program for troubled teens ages 13 to 17, recently announced the addition of therapist Joe Arizmendi, Jr., to its exceptional clinical team.

Prior to his arrival at Lone Star, Arizmendi served for eight years as a band leader and platoon sergeant in the U.S. Marines, traveling all over the world to perform for national events and ceremonies in front of thousands of people, including the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. After retirement from military service, he began working with chronic pain patients in a community health setting, and later began teaching music to young people in elementary, middle, and high school as a band and choir director. During this time, he also brought his talents to bear teaching private lessons and performing live jazz in the community.

Blending the organization and discipline of a military background with the patience and compassion of a teacher, Arizmendi loves working with adolescents and has always sought out time in nature. His passion for music extends far beyond his professional life and into his personal life, where he teaches his four children to play piano, percussion, French horn, and clarinet.

"I don't know how we got so lucky," says Melvin Cates, MA, LCCA, WEMT, executive director of Lone Star Expeditions. "With his background in music, his proactive approach, and his bilingual counseling expertise, Joe will be a tremendous asset to Lone Star and the students and families we serve."

"We feel so strongly about Joe," adds Julie Elliot, LCSW, LMFT, clinical director at Lone Star. "He has a strong personality and great people skills, is a motivated and energetic team player, and brings so much to us culturally. In addition to being a wonderful role model, he'll be able to incorporate some of his prior work in dialectical behavioral therapy, existential philosophy, and music therapy into the wilderness setting."

At Lone Star, Arizmendi will integrate music therapy into the wilderness experience, helping students make flutes, drums, and other instruments from natural materials found on the trail and exploring non-verbal modes of communication.

"Music therapy has proven to be a highly effective intervention for this population of young people," says Cates. "I remember a particularly difficult case - a student who had failed out of the Marine Military Academy and was resistant to traditional therapy, but had played the trumpet for much of his life. When our staff brought a bugle out to the field, it was incredible to see him open up for the first time."

Over the years, Arizmendi has found music, writing and analyzing lyrics, and meditation particularly therapeutic for struggling teens. He also incorporates choice theory, existentialism, and other forms of creative counseling into his therapeutic approach.

"Music speaks to everyone, but especially to adolescents," states Arizmendi. "When words aren't enough, music helps teens speak straight from the heart. Music also helps teens develop a sense of community as they create music, lyrics, or rhythms as members of a cohesive group."

As part of its rigorous recruitment and screening process, Lone Star actively pursued Arizmendi for the therapist position due to his diverse background and extensive experience working with adolescents. A Texas native, he earned his master's degree in counseling and guidance from the University of Texas in Brownsville, specializing in counseling of Spanish speakers, and is currently completing coursework for his doctorate in counseling from Capella University.

After joining the program in July and going through three weeks of intensive orientation and training, Arizmendi started with a caseload this month and is already a celebrated member of the Lone Star team.

"I'm thrilled to be joining an organization with such a strong reputation for clinical excellence and outstanding leadership in a setting that really makes a difference," says Arizmendi. "I look forward to the opportunity to share my passions with this great group of people."

Lone Star Expeditions is a licensed wilderness treatment program located in Groveton, Texas, that treats students ages 13-17 who are experiencing emotional, behavioral, attention, or learning problems. Under the care of doctoral and master's level therapists who focus on assessment, intervention, and aftercare, students develop the confidence, coping skills, and communication strategies that are essential for healthy family relationships and success in daily life.

Lone Star Expeditions is a proud member of Aspen Education Group, the nation's largest and most comprehensive network of therapeutic schools and programs. Aspen Education Group offers professionals and families the opportunity to choose from a variety of therapeutic settings in order to best meet a student's unique academic and emotional needs. Aspen Education Group has been profiled by major news and television organizations around the world, including U.S. News and World Report, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today and People magazine, as well as on CNN, ABC's 20/20 and Good Morning America, NBC's The Today Show and Dateline NBC, National Public Radio, and the syndicated television show Dr. Phil.

Aspen is a division of CRC Health Group, the nation's largest chemical dependency and related behavioral health organization. For more information about Aspen Education Group, visit or call (888) 972-7736. For more information about Lone Star Expeditions and the benefits of wilderness therapy, please call (866) 573-2002 or visit


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