Not so long ago when the world was a less complicated place and a family had a child that was struggling for one reason or another, it was a most common thing to have an extended family member who owned a farm or lived in the country. Little Johnny could go there, have a change of scenery, and get some perspective on life. With the combination of a new environment, some hard work and healthy relationships, the result was a much more functional Little Johnny when he came back home.
It’s no secret that there is very little that is simple about our world today. The challenges that face our young people are much different and more complex than a generation ago. The other side of that coin is that our young people are also some of the most innovative and intelligent in history. So, when a young person has challenges, parents or guardians can often feel at wit's end about how to help Little Johnny through a rough time. It is understandable that there is a sense of confusion, even desperation about what to do next. The situation calls for something that will reach a young person when everything else just hasn't seemed to work. Little Johnny is still struggling.
Enter Wilderness Therapy.
When I first came to Wilderness in 2008, I had been out of grad school for about 5 years and I felt like I was well versed in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, EMDR Therapy, I knew a little Gestalt, some psychodynamic theory, and I really liked Attachment Theory. I thought I was well prepared; ready to change the world for the better by using a group of ideas formed and proven by some of the best thinkers of our time. Over the next few months, and I have been frequently reminded in the ensuing years, I came to understand that no matter how good the counselor or the working theory,
Nature is the greatest teacher and healer of all.
Research done as early as 2005 showed wilderness therapy to be over 80% effective at maintaining long term outcome measures. That's a number unheard of in most other treatment modalities.