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Why Wilderness Programs Work

by Dore Frances, MA, A.C.C., founder of Horizon Family Solutions, LLC
Wilderness adventure outdoor therapy programs are referred to by many different names - Wilderness Programs - Wilderness Therapy Treatment Programs - Clinical Wilderness Therapy Programs - Therapeutic Wilderness Camps - Outdoor Education - Wilderness Eduction - and more.

When you type in Wilderness Programs on Google you get approximately 543,000 listings.

Whichever direction you are considering for your adolescent, teen or young adult, most of these programs have proven themselves to be exceptional catalysts for change in troubled children, teenagers and young adults.

Teens and young adults are exposed to an environment where drugs, money, peer pressure, sex, and violence, are an ever-present force that affects both behavior and perception of life. Many of us accept that many young people today are in pain and struggle with feelings of anxiety, depressions, and frustration due to the stresses of modern life and the personal challenges they face.

Oftentimes the struggle leads to feeling afraid and out of control, and even to thoughts of self-harm or of giving up - suicide.

Unfortunately, a growing number of youth turn to alcohol and drugs or other forms of self-medication as an escape from the problems of life.

Troubled teens and troubled young adults are inherently good and have the ability to be successful, but because of unhealthy misconceptions about themselves, they have limited access to their own abilities and strengths.

Wilderness adventure outdoor therapy programs can assist them in putting life into perspective and dealing with their issues and problems that currently govern their existence.

The intention of the best of these programs is to resolve family conflict in order to reunite families that have been torn apart by the behavioral problems. By offering committed, compassionate, professional services that challenge them emotionally, physically and even academically, the very best of these programs can assist children, teens and young adults understand their causes of low self esteem.

They are given the opportunity to learn to overcome behavioral problems, and return home with cooperation and respect as the goal, instead of conflict and strife.

After students are provided with the opportunity to experience the laws of nature and attain some real life wilderness survival skills, they are then given the opportunity to exercise choice. For example, when a student chooses not to gather wood and build a fire, they may end up being cold and eating cold food.

When they do not build a shelter for themselves and it rains or snows, they may get wet. In the wilderness, students begin to learn the powerful lessons of choice and consequences in a natural way. The impact of these programs on children, teens and young adults with such behavioral problems as depression, low self-esteem, poor school performance, defiance of authority, and drug or alcohol abuse has been documented.

Parents who know how to choose the best program for their child or those who choose to engage in the services of a professional educational consultant that specializes in finding and gaining first hand information about the best programs out there, can feel confident that their child will get the compassionate care and psychological treatment they need.

There are many different kinds of Therapy Wilderness Programs offered by the various companies all across the United States.

An Outdoor Adventure Wilderness Program is only as good as the people who are involved.

The name of a program is is just a name. One Size Does Not Fit All.

Children, teens and young adults are particularly impacted by the realization that the wilderness cannot be manipulated by them.

The group environment teaches them the value of cooperation and joint effort.

Through the development of wilderness skills, teens and young adults develop healthy self-esteem and learn to respond in positive ways to their peers and to authority.

They begin to see that the world is not there to fulfill their every need or whim, and that they are part of a larger community.

The sincere empathy, understanding and unconditional love exemplified by the best caring staff and therapists assist students embrace life with confidence. The result is young people who begin to experience true happiness. They accept the challenges in their life as opportunities to grow and develop and a new level of healthy ambition and maturity is discovered and experienced.

Dore Frances, ACC, MA, is an educational consultant, child's right advocate, parent coach, specializing in working with troubled teens and their families in the United States, Canada, and abroad. See her site at: or contact her by phone at:(541) 312-4422, or email
See our listing on ISER.COM

Disclaimer: Internet Special Education Resources (ISER) provides this information in an effort to help parents find local special education professionals and resources. ISER does not recommend or endorse any particular special education referral source, special educational methodological bias, type of special education professional, or specific special education professional.


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