June, 28 2017

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Wilderness Therapy Programs


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What do Wilderness Therapy Programs for Troubled Teens Offer?

A wilderness therapy program usually offers 24-hour care, varied levels of therapy, education, and a structured environment. Wilderness therapy programs are usually a short-term placement with placement period of 1-4 months. The rigor of wilderness therapy programs offers a poignant opportunity for adolescents to recognize and begin to work through behaviors, attitudes and addictions that may have occurred with a troubled teen in the past. Troubled teens are usually placed in wilderness therapy programs with problems such as failing in school, mild drug abuse, defiant behavior, running away, depression, manipulation, low self-esteem, and general rebellion to name a few. Some wilderness programs may choose to specialize in one category or another. Most programs will not accept troubled teens with a history of violence.

Treatment Within Wilderness Therapy Programs

Treatment within wilderness therapy programs varies and may include group therapy, individual therapy, etc. All wilderness therapy programs offer teens a chance to dig within themselves as they hike, walk and climb through nature - programs use these experiences to help identify and resolve issues underlying troubled teen behavior. Wilderness programs may also base treatment on a positive peer culture environment, in which teens hold other teens accountable for their behaviors. It is best to inquire when searching for a program to know what types of therapy are offered. It is also a good idea to ask parents that have participated in any given program what their feelings are about the type of treatment offered-asking is always helpful, especially if you are in the same boat as the hundreds of other parents- looking at treatment options for the first time.

Will Wilderness Therapy Programs be right for My Troubled Teen?

Wilderness Programs, also known as Outdoor Therapy Programs, emphasize therapy and positive behavioral change over discipline. While students must follow strict guidelines to ensure the safety of all participants, nature serves as the ultimate teacher. Troubled teens are particularly impacted by the realization that the wilderness cannot be manipulated by them. The group environment teaches them the value of cooperation and joint effort. Through the development of wilderness skills, teens develop healthy self-esteem and learn to respond in positive ways to their peers and to authority. They begin to see that the world is not there to fulfill their every need or whim, and that they are part of a larger community. Wilderness programs incorporate traditional therapeutic modalities into a wilderness adventure experience. Students camp in the mountains, desert, or other natural areas, learn to make their food, gather water, and build fire without matches. The natural environment dictates cooperation among participants, which helps to build positive peer relationships. Independent studies from organizations such as the University of Idaho have shown positive results even a year after students leave the program, which has helped increase the popularity of wilderness programs.

Good to note:

  • Wilderness Therapy Programs are usually licensed for treatment within their respective states and are required to renew that license on an annual basis.
  • Educational consults frequently recommend a residential treatment program as a follow to therapy begun in a wilderness program.
  • Insurance may help cover a portion of program costs. This portion varies from provider to provider and program to program, but is usually small.
  • Many programs may be nationally affiliated with great organizations such as NATSAP (national association of therapeutic schools and programs).

Wilderness Therapy Programs : Search Tips

Many parents just like you who are searching for a program to help their troubled teen have wondered, "How do I find the right wilderness program for my troubled teen anyway?"More...



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