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Wilderness Therapy Also Known As: Adventure Therapy, Wilderness Adventure Therapy, Outdoor Behavioral Therapy, Outdoor Education and Experiential Learning . By: Sarah Ake and Elizabeth Jubert. What is Wilderness Therapy?.

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by sarah ake and elizabeth jubert

Wilderness TherapyAlso Known As: Adventure Therapy, Wilderness Adventure Therapy, Outdoor Behavioral Therapy, Outdoor Education and Experiential Learning

By: Sarah Ake and Elizabeth Jubert

what is wilderness therapy
What is Wilderness Therapy?

Utilizing outdoor challenges as a means for therapeutic change, often in group settings.

Adolescents learn group dynamics, wilderness skills, and outdoor living.

To build trust and self confidence in others and oneself using group outdoor activities.

Includes group activities as well as solo self-reflective activities.

examples of wilderness therapy
Examples of Wilderness Therapy

Catherine Freer Wilderness Therapy Program is designed to help “out-of control” adolescents enable positive change. They incorporate three models of wilderness therapy; a wilderness expedition, a school combining academics and wilderness therapy, and a transitional home.

Catherine Freer Video

There are multiple exercises that are utilized in wilderness therapy involving the establishment of trust and cooperation.

Here is one example!

why do adolescents attend wilderness therapy
Why do Adolescents Attend Wilderness Therapy?
  • Eating Disorders
  • Substance Abuse
  • Drug Abuse
  • Behavioral Disorders
  • Juvenile Delinquency
  • Sexual Behavior Problems
benefits and effectiveness of wilderness therapy
Benefits and Effectiveness of Wilderness Therapy

Gives the child the opportunity to experience successful coping

Reduce the potential risk factors impacting the child

Promote self-esteem and self-efficacy

Introduces positive opportunities for change and growth in a child’s life

Encourage positive processing of negative life events.

Hopefulness replaces helplessness.

A feeling of safety and security

tips for utilizing wilderness therapy
Tips for Utilizing Wilderness Therapy
  • Do not go into this work with Expectations of Successful Outcomes: It’s okay to make mistakes and experience failures
  • “Warm up” Exercises are designed to help build comfort in doing this work
        • a. The Three T’s : Trust, Teamwork, Touch
  • Work in the Here-and-Now
  • The patient must have ultimate control; they can stop the exercise anytime
  • Don’t tell patients what to think, feel or do. Let them explore!
ethical dilemmas in wilderness therapy
Ethical Dilemmas in Wilderness Therapy
  • The Use of Touch by Clinicians: More Hands on Contact with the Client than Traditional Therapeutic Setting
  • Confidentiality: Wilderness Programs must follow H.I.P.P.A which is difficult in group settings with multiple treatment plans.
  • Liabilities: Death and Injuries are more likely to happen in wilderness therapy.
policies that effect wilderness therapy
Policies that Effect Wilderness Therapy
  • Insurance Companies do not cover the costs of Wilderness Therapy.
  • It is estimated that a year in wilderness therapy can cost up to $100,000: Juvenile detention costs $48,000 in a year.
  • Therefore, only those with higher SES can afford treatment.
  • Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Industry Council (OBHIC): a panel that searches for “best-practices” in wilderness therapy and meets required “ethical standards” .
aftercare reducing recidivism
Aftercare: Reducing Recidivism
  • Mentors and role models for guidance
  • Community resources : proximity to safe environments
  • Family involvement
  • Religious & Spiritual supports
  • Meaningful role in community
  • Access to recreational activities
  • Possible family therapy, psycho-educational groups, and parent sessions
  • Access to a school or learning community
references
References

Becker, S. (2010). Wilderness therapy: Ethical considerations for mental health professionals. Child & Youth Care Forum, 39(1), 47-61. doi:10.1007/s10566-009-9085-7.

Scott, D., & Duerson, L. (2010). Continuing the discussion: A commentary on “wilderness therapy: Ethical considerations for mental health professionals.". Child & Youth Care Forum, 39(1), 63-68. doi:10.1007/s10566-009-9090-x.

Longo, R. (2004). Using experiential exercises in treating adolescents with sexual behavior problems. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 11(4), 249-263. doi:10.1080/10720160490900623.

Ungar, M., Dumond, C., & McDonald, W. (2005). Risk, resilience and outdoor programmes for at-risk children. Journal of Social Work, 5(3), 319-338. doi:10.1177/1468017305058938.