Wilderness Therapy

Authored by Helen Parson

Edited by Hugh Soames

Reviewed by Michael Por

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Understanding Wilderness Therapy

 

Wilderness therapy is a type of therapy based on a person’s experiences or observations. It was created to give individuals specific feelings, beliefs, and attitudes that are more intense than the ones they typically feel. Simulating these feelings through wilderness training can be extremely therapeutic for clients.

 

Wilderness therapy is just one of a number of experiential therapies11.M. Rascal, Browse journals by subject, Browse journals by subject.; Retrieved September 28, 2022, from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02673843.2018.1528166. These therapies encourage individuals to change the way they live, act, and behave by challenging them to explore emotions and other aspects in specific situations.

 

How Does Adventure Therapy Work?

 

Clients experience a hands-on approach when undergoing wilderness therapy22.B. Bigonas, Wilderness adventure therapy effects on the mental health of youth participants – ScienceDirect, Wilderness adventure therapy effects on the mental health of youth participants – ScienceDirect.; Retrieved September 28, 2022, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0149718915300094. This approach is one of the main reasons it differs so much from other forms of psychotherapy. Clients partake in a variety of outdoor activities including games, excursions and expeditions, and other experiences.

 

A trained therapist oversees the wilderness rehab session and clients do not just do activities without direction. The therapist will give guidance during each activity which makes it useful in the recovery process.

 

Many luxury rehabs employ wilderness therapy in a variety of ways from excursions to zip lining to hikes. Although it is a form of therapy that is growing in popularity, it should be remembered that it is not meant to be used alone33.A. B. Chairman & CEO Remedy Wellbeing, REMEDY Wellbeing® – The Most Unique & Exclusive Rehab in the World, Remedy Wellbeing.; Retrieved September 28, 2022, from https://remedywellbeing.com. Wilderness therapy is used alongside other forms of psychotherapy to help clients overcome their disorders. A client may undergo individual and group therapy sessions alongside attending wilderness meetings.

 

Benefits of Wilderness Therapy

 

Wilderness rehab is often used with children, adolescents, and teenagers to help them overcome trauma, addiction, and other disorders. It is claimed that one of the reasons for wilderness therapy’s success rate is because it is used to help younger people in recovery programs.

 

Adventure therapy can help clients overcome disorders by:

 

  • Helping in the creation and development of goals
  • Developing a plan to reach goals and targets
  • Creating insight into one’s motivations, feelings, and beliefs
  • Establishing teamwork with others to accomplish tasks
  • Building self-confidence
  • Dealing with disagreements with other clients in a positive manner

 

Wilderness Bootcamps?

 

Wilderness rehab excursions have often been labeled as “bootcamps” or “scared straight getaways”. The labels couldn’t be more wrong, however. One of the most important things a parent or guardian should do before sending a son or daughter to a wilderness therapy course, is to understand the problems the individual faces. Too often, a parent doesn’t fully grasp the issues at play and this can prevent the therapy’s effectiveness.

 

During the sessions, the therapist who oversees it will help the client reflect on their life and experiences. The therapist will help the individual uncover the reasons for their substance misuse or other disorders.

 

One of the reasons adventure therapy has been successful is due to clients not considering it a therapy. Clients are active and having fun rather than sharing emotions in group sessions. It is often seen as a break from the traditional psychotherapy sessions clients participate in. Clients engage in the sessions through self-discovery making wilderness therapy a way to tap into a person and help create long-term healing.

 

Previous: Equine Therapy for Addiction Treatment

Next: EMDR for Addiction Treatment

  • 1
    1.M. Rascal, Browse journals by subject, Browse journals by subject.; Retrieved September 28, 2022, from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02673843.2018.1528166
  • 2
    2.B. Bigonas, Wilderness adventure therapy effects on the mental health of youth participants – ScienceDirect, Wilderness adventure therapy effects on the mental health of youth participants – ScienceDirect.; Retrieved September 28, 2022, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0149718915300094
  • 3
    3.A. B. Chairman & CEO Remedy Wellbeing, REMEDY Wellbeing® – The Most Unique & Exclusive Rehab in the World, Remedy Wellbeing.; Retrieved September 28, 2022, from https://remedywellbeing.com
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Alexander Stuart is the CEO of Worlds Best Rehab Magazine™ as well as the creator & pioneer behind Remedy Wellbeing Hotels & Retreats. Under his leadership as CEO, Remedy Wellbeing Hotels™ received the accolade of Overall Winner: International Wellness Hotel of the Year 2022 by International Rehabs. Because of his incredible work, the individual luxury hotel retreats are the world’s first $1 million-plus exclusive wellness centers providing an escape for individuals and families requiring absolute discretion such as Celebrities, Sportspeople, Executives, Royalty, Entrepreneurs and those subject to intense media scrutiny.