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Wilderness Therapy

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Brynna Steele

on 11 December 2015

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Transcript of Wilderness Therapy

Margalit and Ben-Ari, 2014.
93 males, 14 to 16
Improved Cognitive Autonomy and Self-Efficacy
Framework for group therapy in an unfamiliar challenging environment
Clinical treatment commonly used for adolescents with a variety of mental health, behavioral, and/or substance abuse disorders
Historical Background

Dates back to the 1900s
At that time, a 'tent therapy' program was born, representing the first outdoor therapeutic program

Has grown out of the background of mental health professionals who enjoy the outdoors and began experiencing, firsthand, the restorative and healing properties of the wilderness.

The vast majority of the camp leaders and counselors in the early camping programs were not trained professionals, nor did any of them have any mental health training or experience.
Theory & Method
Wilderness therapy involves the use of traditional therapy techniques, especially those for group therapy, in out-of-door settings, utilizing outdoor adventure pursuits and other activities to enhance growth.

Wilderness therapy emphasize that it is not taking troubled adolescents into the woods so that they will feel better.

It involves the careful selection of potential candidates based on a clinical assessment and the creation of an individual treatment plan for each participant.
Wilderness Therapy
Battmann, Russell and Parry 2012.
Battmann, Russell and Parry 2012.
Davis-Berman and Berman, 1994.
The use of an out-of-doors setting, with a group of adolescents, utilizing adventure education activities and group therapy, over a number of days, or in a number of sessions

Separates participants from environments that foster and maintain dysfunctional behavior

'Wilderness Therapy' experience is at the same time more intensive than most outpatient settings and less restrictive than inpatient settings
Theory & Method
Although programs for adults do currently exist, it is most commonly seen as treatment method for 'high risk' adolescents

It should be emphasized that, like others forms of psychological counseling, wilderness therapy is not a cure all; rather, it is most appropriately viewed as a constellation of techniques that has the potential of helping some adolescents
Davis-Berman and Berman, 1994.
Davis-Berman and Berman, 1994.
Rutko and Gillespie, 2013.
Theory & Method
Reaches out to adolescents who may feel alienated in everyday life in the community and in large schools.

Critical for programs to understand adolescents' internal working models and attachment patterns in order to design and execute successful treatments that can engage resistant adolescent clients.
Romi and Kohan, 2004.
Bettmann, Olson-Morrison, and Jasperson, 2011.
Wilson and Lipsey, 2000.
Meta Analysis
Reduced delinquent and antisocial behavior
Bettmann, Olson-Morrison and Jasperson, 2011.
Narrative of 13 adolescents
Findings of this study provide insight into working with adolescents by pointing to what are often unseen relational dynamics in treatment
Limitations & Critique
Staff burnout working with adolescents with multiple disorders for hours and days on end
Why wilderness? Is the wilderness necessary? Could you do this in an urban area?
Profit generating private companies lacking regulations and accreditation
How does the capitalist approach impact the research agenda?

Ethical Issues
Adolescents who have multiple disorders are more vulnerable*

Informed consent and confidentiality are particularly relevant for adolescent clients*

With the increasing number of programs, some programs are claiming to be therapeutic when they are not*
Hoag et al, 2014.
Becker, 2010.
Davis-Berman and Berman, 1993.

Overview of WT

Relatively modern concept
Difficult time, adjustment, poverty, poor education, isolation, dysfunctional family
can lead to emotional & behavioral problems
Relatively modern concept
Difficult time: adjustment, developing, identity vs role confusion, poverty, poor education, isolation, lack of social support, dysfunctional family
Can lead to emotional & behavioral problems
Full transcript