Typical Wilderness Therapy Methods

Wilderness therapy has gained a lot of recent attention in the psychotherapy field. Though “wilderness therapy” seems like it might be self-explanatory, with no standard industry regulation, it can be tough to tell what “wilderness therapy” really is. What methods are used in a typical wilderness therapy program? Though programs vary based on the professionals involved, below are typical activities that wilderness therapy patients will participate in.

Complete Psychological Evaluation

Any participant in any therapy program needs to be given a complete psychological evaluation by a qualified and licensed professional. This evaluation will dictate the creation of a treatment plan. Without a complete evaluation, desired outcomes cannot be determined, and therapy cannot be effective.

A Strategic Treatment Plan

wilderness therapy methodsOnce a patient has been evaluated, a treatment plan can be created. This plan will be formulated by the therapist, the patient, the patient’s family, and any other pertinent parties (such as important people in the patient’s life, or additional medical professionals).

Group Therapy

Most wilderness therapy programs involve groups of patients dealing with similar issues. This is important because it puts the individual in a controlled group environment. Patients can learn to work in teams and practice communication and interaction skills that they are taught.

Individual Therapy

Individual therapy with a licensed and experienced therapist is necessary in order to meet desired treatment outcomes. This gives the patient a private place to reflect on their progress and express difficulties they are having. It also allows the therapist a regular opportunity to re-evaluate the treatment plan and adjust accordingly.

Family Support

Young adults and adolescents are most likely to succeed in therapy when they have a strong support system. Many programs allow parent s to participate in therapy sessions using video chat and conference calls. Parents can also meet with the therapist separately from their child, in order to be given resources to improve parenting skills and help their child succeed.

• Don’t forget to check out the directory of treatment locations, such as in Colorado.

An Outdoor Setting

Wilderness therapy is primarily defined by its setting. Therapists and field guides use an outdoor setting to remove patients from their familiar environments and open them up to new experiences. In a new setting, they are more capable of picking up new skills. They also react differently to situations, because situations are inherently different.

Common wilderness therapy activities and skills include:

  • Cooking meals outdoors
  • Setting up shelters
  • Interacting with plants and animals
  • Hiking
  • Being responsible for equipment
  • Chopping wood
  • Camping

Prolonged time in the wilderness requires the group to work together for a common goal. There are also inherent benefits to being in a remote location, such as:

  • An increased amount of daily physical exercise
  • Fresh air
  • The ability to control health content of food
  • A quieter environment
  • The opportunity to create memories of positive experiences

Specific activities and methods will vary based on client needs, but most wilderness therapy programs will include some form of the methods listed above.