As a Therapeutic Educational Consultant, parents ask me about wilderness therapy all the time. It’s a good question and especially timely as we head toward summer.

Wilderness Therapy is an important year round therapeutic resource; however, summertime can be an especially strategic summer intervention for troubled teens. Many teens and young adults who struggle during the academic year are still able to work through their challenges at home. Thus, it’s “natural” to capitalize on the summer months and engage wilderness therapy for help with challenging emotions or difficult behaviors.

History of Therapeutic Wilderness

“I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in” ~John Muir

As early as the rights of passage for many of the Native American tribes, spending time in the wilderness has had transformative effects. The Boy Scouts also capitalize on this experience, as do NOLS and Outward Bound. Though not specifically “therapeutic,” the time spent away from home and in touch with one’s owns thoughts is recognized to be in its own way, therapy.

How many of us have gone camping or on a hike to have just that type of temporary meditative moment?

Modalties of Programs

Wilderness or Outdoor Behavioral Health are not one size fits all. There are many choices of type of therapy and program components. Examples of this are:

•    Nomadic

•    Base-Camp

•    Rotating academic weeks with camping and farm-life

•    Desert – Mountain – High Country.

•    Specific programs for Autism, Trauma or Substance Abuse?

The Value of Therapeutic Wilderness

Life in the wilderness interrupts the daily home and school routine. Even just unplugging can be therapeutic. By choosing therapeutic wilderness as a summer experience, our families shift the dynamic of life as the teen knows it. Parents show resolve that attitudes and behaviors need to change.

Nature is the great outdoor classroom and is fundamental to connecting with self. Research has shown that hiking is good for the brain.

Your teenager will experience measurable success and meet goals like navigating the weather and demands of communal camping, demonstrating mastery of a skill, or simply following the guidance of peers and filed guides to accomplish a team project.

Peers are positive as they work together, encouraging one another and sharing their common humanity as individuals who face challenges and overcome obstacles in life.

Kids learn new coping skills and ways to relate in a more productive emotional and social manner. In the woods, one must follow adult’s directions. It doesn’t work to ignore, melt down, run away, quit, yell, threaten or blame others when it comes to staying dry, setting up camp or reaching the summit.

Wilderness Therapy is proven experiential intervention for children as young as 10 years, teens and young adults up to age 30. Clinical theory along with individual, group, and family therapy tie together the lessons learned in the backdrop of a wilderness setting.

JET ED Consulting assists professionals and families in determining if wilderness therapy is the right choice. If so, we consult with parents and custom match their son or daughter with the “right fit” wilderness program that is the best possible option for their unique situation.

Do you know a teen who would benefit from a wilderness experience this summer? Call JET ED Consulting for our expertise in finding the right program.