What is Wilderness Therapy?

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Wilderness Therapy uses exploration into the wilderness to facilitate therapeutic change. Usually used for behavioral health issues in adolescents, Wilderness Therapy uses skills training, group exercises, and nature explorations to engage clients in counseling.

Counselors usually use Wilderness Therapy for groups of adolescents or young adults experiencing mental health concerns or substance use issues.

Wilderness therapists rely on the absence of any negative life influences (such as the pressure to engage in risky behaviors). Skills training can include starting a fire, finding and foraging for food, and building shelters.

Group exercises help bring clients together, mimic healthy family dynamics, and are free of toxic patterns of relating. Exploring the wilderness encourages clients to rely more heavily on themselves and the strength of the group.

The challenge of Wilderness Therapy includes physical activities, encouraging a mind-body connection. Wilderness therapy also encourages creativity, self-expression, and trust within oneself and the group. These dynamics can model and demonstrate healthy relationships with others that youth might not have in their life.

If you are interested in Wilderness Therapy for you or for a loved one, seek out a properly accredited and safe program, as placing youth in environments they are not used to can come with some risks.

Therapists Who Specialize in Using Wilderness Therapy