Wilderness Therapy
Great for Stress Management

Wilderness Therapy Stress Solutions For All

For many years, wilderness therapy has been used to help recovering addicts and at risk youth get back on track in their lives. However, most recently, this type of nature therapy or wilderness therapy is being used to help people address growing stress management concerns.

Spas have begun to form partnerships with extreme adventure companies to bring together traditional spa activities with adventure activities. Now you can go wilderness hiking and blend that experience with yoga and massage for the ultimate stress release.

First Nations peoples have known for centuries about the healing qualities of communing with nature and it is good to know that the rest of us are finally catching up to this age old solution to the stress epidemic we all face.

It’s all about experiential education. Wilderness-based therapy can go a long way to helping a stressed person get back in control of their lives by improving self-esteem and self-confidence. Other positive outcomes include changes to help seeking behavior, increased mutual aid, pro-social behavior, trust behavior and more.

To be successful surviving in a wilderness setting, one has to be strong, creative and resourceful, all of which are skills often not needed in day to day life in the city or even in rural settings. To become stress hardy and resilient, two key skills for modern, urban survival and achievement, people must have a chance to practice dealing with stress so they can get good at it. Being exposed to stress in a constructive and controlled way, having strong support people around and having a strong sense of purpose are all key to building stress hardiness and resilience and all of these can be acquired through wilderness-based therapy.

Key Characteristics of
Effective Wilderness-Based Therapy Programs

  • The program is licensed by a main government agency.
  • Clients have regular contact with a licensed mental health practitioner (clinical therapist).
  • The therapist works with the family to help them understand the nature of the client’s behaviors and enhance treatment objectives.
  • Field guides have training in specialty areas appropriate for the clientele (substance abuse, de-escalation skills, etc.).
  • Clients have individualized treatment plans that are monitored by licensed therapeutic staff.
  • Formal evaluations of treatment effectiveness are conducted to determine treatment effectiveness.
  • Therapists work with aftercare services and the family to ensure that progress made by the client can be maintained.
  • Wilderness-based therapy takes place in a group setting where group development processes facilitate learning.
  • The outdoor environment is utilized to help the client leave their familiar culture behind and have a unique experience that will facilitate meeting specified learning objectives.

Source: Russell, K. C. (2001). What is Wilderness Therapy? The Journal of Experiential Education. Fall 2001, Volume 24, No. 2. pp. 70-79

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