Wilderness Experts

If you are considering enrolling your child in a wilderness therapy program, it is important to know that the safety, quality, and level of clinical sophistication among programs varies greatly.  As independent consultants we work for you to help you make the best, most well informed decisions.


Why Wilderness

Many families we work with are considering a wilderness therapy program for their child. Over the last 20 years, wilderness has emerged as a clinically sophisticated intervention for struggling adolescents and young adults designed to treat depression, anxiety, and other common mental health challenges.

Over the years wilderness has evolved from its more primitive roots to a model that resembles something akin to many residential treatment centers—offering empirically validated, therapeutic approaches. (Some even offer in-house psychiatric care). However, whereas many Residential Treatment Centers (RTCs) have a more medical model approach with a focus on pathology, wilderness participants are immersed in a nurturing, wellness-focused expedition that utilizes the therapeutic setting of the natural world.

Adolescents and young adults who would typically be able to avoid, hide, or stall in traditional outpatient settings are suddenly confronted with a powerful therapeutic experience that pushes them to examine their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in a new way. The majority of adolescents and young adults who participate in a high quality wilderness program experience a significant paradigm shift that leaves them feeling more hopeful, more accountable, and more empowered.

(Click here for more information/research regarding Wilderness Therapy as a treatment model)

Choosing a program

Not all wilderness programs are created equal. There is a lot to consider when choosing the right one for your child. In addition to answering the question, “Is this a safe/reputable program?” there is the added complexity of, “Is this program the best clinical fit for what my child is dealing with?” There are many wilderness options, which range widely in both their overall quality and their general therapeutic approach/clinical ability.

Additionally, many programs use a nomadic model where groups serve as self-contained, micro-treatment programs within the larger program. This means the individual make-up of a specific group (ages, presenting issues, therapeutic progress, etc.), as well as the personality and clinical background of the lead therapist are key factors in the experience. Selecting a wilderness option can be just as much about finding the right therapist and the right group as it is about finding the right program.

We will help you select the best program including researching individual groups with great care and hand picking the lead therapist who is the best fit for your child. The goal is to have your child with other adolescent/young adults who are clinically similar to them and who will provide the right context for effective treatment.

How we can help

Our team has a combined 10+ years experience working in some of the nations leading wilderness therapy programs. Members of our team have worked across all levels of programs including “front line” field guide, assistant field director, and lead wilderness therapist, as well as past member of the Accreditation Council for the Association for Experiential Education.

We travel regularly to visit and assess wilderness options around the country and internationally. We have the background and training to evaluate programs at a detailed level and our first hand knowledge of the people and the process will allow us to successfully guide your family through the wilderness experience.