Embark at The Forge

Embark at The Forge is an innovative, teen boys short-term residential treatment program (45 to 90 days) and school developed in response to the emotional and neurobiological needs of teen boys. We combine the immersion of extraordinary outdoor experiences, daily functional fitness, empathetic and attuned individual and family counseling, and exceptional educational rigor to help build greatness.

Tour Embark at the Forge

Embark at the Forge is a peaceful, restorative place. We match a comfortable, nurturing environment with proven, reliable treatments and therapies that will enable your teen to heal and grow.

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Joe Barnard

Position: Executive Director
Joe Barnard joined the Embark Behavioral Health family as Executive Director of The Forge School in July 2020. Following a long and successful career of 33 years in the Department of Defense as an elite rescueman in the US Air Force, Joe wanted to find another way to serve his community. This is what brought him to The Forge School. Joe believes in the school’s vision for teen boys of equal clinical, academics and adventure/experiential modalities. He brings decades of day-in dayout interaction with young Airmen and other SOF operators. He has seen that team, is so much better than self, and he looks forward to building and leading his team, collectively serving their parents and students. Joe is also an avid skydiver, surfer, and novice yoga practitioner. Following his Air Force retirement, he and his wife of 29 years Meghan, a Yoga/Mindfulness Instructor, traveled Southeast Asia for 5 months (Thailand, Singapore and Bali) decompressing, exploring and learning. Joe brings an artful and intentional mix of the structure and grit of his military background, love and passion for adventure, and his grounded and centered energy to work with our young men to develop the skills to initiate positive behavioral change and become resilient leaders and visionaries. contact: [email protected]
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Joe Barnard

Executive Director
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Josh Nordean

Position: Clinical Director

Josh Nordean joins The Forge School as the Clinical Director after serving at Calo since 2016 as a therapist, Program Director and Director of Clinical Services. Since 2001, Josh has worked with young men and their families in a variety of settings as a teacher, coach, youth pastor, case manager, crisis intervention specialist and therapist. Josh graduated summa cum laude from Oklahoma State University with an M.S. in Community Counseling. Josh has a heart for providing a CASA experience for young men and their families and serving as a mentor on the road towards healthy manhood. Through his years of experience working with boys from a variety of socioeconomic, racial and cultural backgrounds, Josh has come to believe that boys need specific mentors and role models to show them how to harness and focus their strength into productive rather than destructive ventures. He is excited to be a part of the team at the Forge School who aim to set a new standard in boy specific treatment. When not working, Josh enjoys anything related to sports and being outdoors and loves spending time with his wife, three sons and two boxers.

contact: [email protected]

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Josh Nordean

Clinical Director
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Dr. Michael Gurian

Position: Marriage and Family Counselor

Dr. Michael Gurian is a marriage and family counselor in private practice and the New York Times bestselling author of thirty two published books in twenty three languages. He has penned gender specific best sellers like, The Wonder of Boys, The Minds of Boys and Saving Our Sons. As a social philosopher, he has pioneered efforts to bring neuro-biology and brain research into homes, schools, corporations, and public policy. The Gurian Institute which he co-founded, conducts research internationally, launches pilot programs, and trains professionals. Dr. Gurian’s speaking engagements include but are not limited to, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University, University of Colorado, University of Missouri-Kansas City, and UCLA.

Michael’s work has also been featured in nearly all the major media, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, Newsweek, Time, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes Magazine, Psychology Today, the Christian Science Monitor, Educational Leadership and the American School Board Journal.

The Forge School is incredibly pleased to have Dr. Gurian on the team and as our consultant, and he brings a wealth of experience to us with his life’s work.

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Dr. Michael Gurian

Marriage and Family Counselor
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Meghan Barnard

Position: Director of Admissions

Meghan Barnard has always been passionate about helping others live their best and healthiest life, mind, body and spirit. At her foundation, she is an educator and an intuitive helper of hearts. As an experienced and well traveled retreat leader and effective motivator, Meghan has had the unique opportunity to help affect many lives and produce positive experiences and outcomes, for her clients. This sense of giving back has sustained her since she was a young girl. Skilled and trained in a variety of teaching and healing modalities, trauma informed yoga, meditation, public speaking, media, leadership, sales and marketing as well as brand development and event planning.

Currently as the Director of Admissions for the Forge School, she is thrilled to have the opportunity to deepen this sense of giving back using her life learned skillset for what matters the most, family. As the first point of contact for The Forge School she is motivated to spread awareness and help facilitate, with the team, the guidance and direction needed to create joy and heal generations. Meghan and her husband Joe are proud parents who have raised two grown sons, Connor and Zachary. She is an age optimist and a clean food enthusiast. A collaborator and connector. Cheerleader of women, and a man fan.

Contact: [email protected]

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Meghan Barnard

Director of Admissions
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Dr. Cassandra Simms

Position: Clinical Psychiatrist

Dr. Cassandra Simms is board certified in Adult and Child/Adolescent Psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.

Dr. Simms received her medical degree from the University of Kentucky in 1999. She completed her Psychiatry Residency and Child/Adolescent Fellowship at the University of South Carolina. During her residency, she served on the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee, Residency Selection Committee, and was chosen to be Chief Resident for the Child & Adolescent Fellowship Program.

In May 2004, Dr. Simms moved to Chattanooga Tennessee with her family where she started her professional career with Focus Psychiatric Services, Inc. and Parkridge Valley Hospital treating children and adolescents in an outpatient and inpatient setting until August 2012.

In August 2012, Dr. Simms took a position with Community Health Systems via Skyridge Medical Center now known as Tennova Healthcare in Cleveland Tennessee. She provided outpatient care to adults and children at Behavioral Health of Cleveland and inpatient care to adults at Pineridge Treatment Center (Tennova Behavioral Health) via acute hospitalization, inpatient consultation and intensive outpatient programs until August 2015.

It was in August 2015, Dr. Simms transitioned to her outpatient private practice as a co-owner of Comprehensive Psychiatric Care, PLLC in Chattanooga Tennessee. She has been joined by several therapists and a Nurse Practitioner to provide services to our beloved community. Dr. Simms collaborates with Healthconnect of America to provide supervision to nurse practitioners in the surrounding area and with Allied Behavioral Services, Inc. to provide consistent medication management services to their clients.

In November 2020 while continuing her outpatient services, Dr. Simms was thrilled to join the Embark Behavioral Health’s newest program, The Forge School, a behavioral residential treatment center for boys in Benton Tennessee. She will serve as the Psychiatric Service Director to oversee and provide the psychiatric care to the residents referred to the facility.

During her 17 years as a provider, Dr. Simms has also found a passion for teaching students through her clinical experiences. In 2009, Dr. Simms became a faculty member with the University of Tennessee School of Medicine where she briefly served as preceptor for medical students for a portion of their psychiatry rotation. In 2012, Dr. Simms contracted with Lincoln Memorial University’s Physician Assistant program providing their behavioral health clinical experience. Dr. Simms hopes through her current clinical experiences that she can continue to educate upcoming providers and provide them with a thorough clinical psychiatric experience. This is with the hope to make upcoming providers aware of the need for good psychiatric care in our communities and to reduce the stigma associated with mental health.

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Dr. Cassandra Simms

Clinical Psychiatrist

Elaine Lacy

Position: Residential Director

Residential Director, Elaine Lacy, manages all aspects of the milieu with a smile.
Although her background is Social Justice, Elaine has been a number of things, from an Accounting Tech for the NICS European Field Office in Naples, Italy, and Investigator/supervisor in Victim’s Assistance in South Carolina to a Juvenile Probation officer/Process server in Cochise County Arizona. Her favorite place, though, has always been working with teenagers. Experiencing the true wonder of watching a young man become who he could be, instead of what he has always been, is an incredible gift. Elaine has a unique ability to help identify those mystical traits in team members of not only accepting teenagers as who they are, helping them understand who they could be, and challenging them to not settle for what they have always been.


Elaine Lacy

Residential Director

About Our Location

The vast property at The Forge School is located in the Mountains of Benton, Tennessee – located only 45 minutes outside of Chattanooga; and surrounded by the East Tennessee Mountains on 55 acres with direct access to the Hiwassee River.

An Adventure Rich Location that is Ideal for Teen Boy Healing and Growth. We understand that individuals and families heal best in-home environments filled with a sense of safety, nurturing, comfort, and well-being.

We Are Experts in How to Motivate, Fascinate, and Co-Regulate the Teen Male Brain. We illuminate a better way to educate young men and forge the path for mighty leadership to be formed.

Interventions & Therapies

As a pioneer and leader in quality outcomes, we have gathered more data than any other provider over the past 10 years and only offer treatment that we know drives long-lasting, sustainable results. We offer customized, individual therapeutic programs to enable your daughter to thrive. Specialized services and areas of focus include:

Daily Schedule Highlights

we designed The Forge because you matter, because you have inherent worth and value, and so that your engagement in the world is noticed and affirmed. As you engage in the world, as you engage in the process of healing, there will be times when you will fall apart. Because you matter, we will pull you through those difficult times; you will not be alone.

8am Breakfast & Goals

9am - 3:15pm School

3:20pm Snack

4pm Adventure Therapy

5pm Dinner

5:30 - 7pm Team Building

8 - 9pm Evening Routine

See The Difference For Yourself

"You have been a God-send in our lives and we are very, very grateful for the love and concern and support you've shown each of us, but especially our daughter. We miss you folks. I even miss Utah!"
"Your unending patience, tireless commitment, and absolute brilliance gave us our daughter, and gave our daughter her life."
"I only wish there was more I could do to express to you my love, affection, and gratitude for all you've been in my life and in hers. I am delight that our relationship will continue."
"You have helped me so much this year. I used to not understand English, but you have helped me to become involved in class and to get into books. It's been a lot easier to learn in a caring environment. Thank you for helping me get interested in school again."
"When we brought our daughter to New Haven, we thought she might never want a relationship with us again. She's changed so much, we wonder if you switched her with someone else! New Haven has given us our daughter back."
"Both staff and peers at New Haven befriended me and helped me to open up and share. Once I realized that people liked me for who I am, I started to like myself. This was exactly what I needed. I needed gentle, caring people to help me."
"I, too, will miss everyone there but each and every one of you has left an imprint on my daughter. We will be reminded of that imprint each and every day as we watch her grow and mature into the truly amazing person she is. Thank you doesn't even being to try to tell you how grateful I am."
"You've helped to bring serenity to our lives and to our daughter."
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Start Your Healing Journey Today!

Short-term treatment typically lasts one to three months. Teens best suited for short-term treatment often have engaged in other therapeutic programs like outpatient or intensive outpatient therapy and need a 24-hour continuum of care. Our unique, relationship-based treatments use extensive data collection to improve treatment plans and interventions in real-time, creating long-lasting, sustainable, verified results.

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