Tessa McGill Director THRIVE Wellness Workshop

May 8, 2023 | 0 comments

Tessa Magill grew up in Ojai, as did her mother and father. So many OWF members probably know the Messer family. She loves Ojai, “I feel grateful to have this community, friends, and family. I run into people all the time that I’ve met through THRIVE. It’s a pretty special place.” She got her Master’s in Counseling Psychology, is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and does therapy online in private practice. She started to THRIVE almost five years ago because she wanted to combine treatment with nature. 

“It’s my go-to coping skill when I found the most challenging times in my life,” she comments, “And I wanted to just get that out for many people, especially kids. It turns out, and it’s just been this amazing passion project that people are excited about.” She says, “I connect the deepest with my friends when we’re in the middle of nowhere just hiking along together, and I’m talking about everything in the world or snuggled up in a tent talking about everything until 2 am.”  

She translates that into her program through activities such as “pow-wow-chow,” – where teens and adults talk about what’s happened in their life lately, something hard, something good, and something good they ate recently. Then that fosters a connection right away. People feel ‘I can talk to that person, and I like that.’ They feel like there’s an excellent way that we incorporate the connection into what we do. In THRIVE’s programs, people get a chance to have a safe space to talk and be themselves with others listening and being respectful. She concludes, “It’s a big takeaway, especially for teenagers. We get them thinking about what it means to be safe and what you need from each other. It’s things that most people have in common. You want to feel heard and that people care and aren’t distracted by other things. I love that part of leadership.”

THRIVE’s hikes are accessible, and most people can do them. The focus is on walking in nature vs. a hike where all you do is climb. They do events for three hours, for example, where they sit and talk as well as cover some ground and sit and talk some more and cover more ground. Their camping trips, even for teens, go into the wilderness or to Santa Cruz Island, where they camp, hike around, go to the visitor center to learn the island’s history, then the volunteer docents come with our group for guided hikes. There is still time to sign up for a youth camping retreat at Santa Cruz Island, which is partially funded by OWF.

Tessa is very passionate about THRIVE. She takes her work seriously and has fun at the same time. Tessa cares about the people in her life, her family, friends, and the wonderful community of Ojai. She is truly a compassionate leader.