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Meet Amalia | Field Wellness Director

Getting to learn about Costa Rica from a local is an incredible advantage – both culturally and linguistically. Amalia brings so much value to our program including high level outdoor acumen and aptitude for therapeutic engagement with students while in adventure settings like white water rafting or repelling down a waterfall. Amalia embodies the heart of Pura Vida and students will feel that and be inspired to open up to a global perspective.

Austin Rogers
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Amalia Gamboa, CSW

Bachelor of Ecotourism, Universidad de Costa Rica
Utah State University, Master of Social Work, CMSW

Trained in:
• Cognitive Behavior Therapy
• Narrative Therapy
• Experiential Therapy
• AEGIS Crisis De-escalation
• First Aid CPR AED
• Technical Rope Rescue

Specializes in:
Trauma / Substance Use Disorders / Family Systems / Attachment / Lack of Motivation / Risk-Taking Behaviors / Self-Esteem Issues / Depression / Anxiety / Mood Disorders / Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)

Pura Vida Costa Rica

Amalia’s love for playing tour guide in her home country of Costa Rica began at a young age. As a teenager, when her family hosted visitors from the U.S.A., Amalia was fascinated with the language and interactions between her and her family.

I was just a kid but I got a rush of adrenaline showing them things that were unique to my culture. I knew then I needed to follow that path.

Amalia Gamboa, CSW
Cultural Immersion is one of Rooted Life Adventures' core components. We work with local organizations to curate intentional cultural immersion activities where students can learn about diverse values, world views, skills, and life habits. Through this, students expand their worldview and enjoy a global perspective and new lens to view their lives at home. Click here to learn more.

With Costa Rica known for it’s tourism industry, Amalia pursued her bachelor’s degree in eco-tourism and began working at Outward Bound Costa Rica as an instructor. During this time, she explored her adventurous side with white water rafting, waterfall rappelling, and backpacking.

This opened the door for Amalia to work at Pure Life as a field guide and then a field director. Amalia’s responsibilities included always remaining vigilant in the oversight of the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of students, as well as ensuring policies and procedures were understood and implemented in every part of field operations. Amalia also was responsible for responding to and attending any emergency situation and providing medical care (WFR, AEGIS).

Certified Social Worker

Amalia loves showing students how to live a more simplistic lifestyle. Seeing how much the outdoors and therapy together can achieve inspired her to pursue and successfully earn a Masters in Social Work in Utah.

Rooted Life Adventures Supported Gap Year

After completing her MSW, Amalia was snapped up by pioneer of wilderness adventure therapy Aspiro Adventure Therapy. As field director, Amalia was charged with providing clinical services to students and their families, as well as leading therapeutic groups.

From adventure therapy to wilderness therapy, Amalia has worked with students from various backgrounds, particularly teens and young adults who struggle with risk-taking behaviors, defiance, and substance abuse.

In March 2023, Amalia presented on The value of multicultural group dynamics. “Opening the doors to cultural interchange: Leveraging international diversity in wilderness therapy” at the Wilderness Therapy Symposium in North Carolina.

Amalia uses a mix of different modalities tailored to the needs of both the student and family. These include motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioral therapy, experiential therapy, and narrative therapy. Therapeutic coaching is available to RLA student’s on program 24/7. This is a unique offering as part of our supported gap year wellness adventures program.

I find narrative therapy can be particularly beneficial for helping students analyze and change the stories they tell themselves about the world. From my experience, I’ve seen first-hand how this type of therapy can benefit people who experience mood disorders, or learned helplessness, during their early adulthood.

Amalia Gamboa, CSW
Rooted Life Adventures Support Gap Year

Amalia finds joy in seeing students overcome their struggles and create lasting change in their lives. She is fluent in English and Spanish. Amalia is comfortable working with students in either language.

Amalia is our Field Wellness Director for our Costa Rica 10-Week Fall Program for Young Adults All Genders (ages 18-24) from September 21 – November 29, 2023.

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