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.