Benefits of Therapeutic Wilderness Programs
Therapeutic wilderness programs like the one at Wood Creek Academy have been used for teens and young adults who have not had positive responses to other methods of therapy. These programs seek to connect troubled teens with nature, which many experts have predicted is a more effective healing environment than traditional therapy locations. This treatment has proven to speed recovery from conditions like depression, personality disorders, substance addictions, anxiety and ADHD.
Aside from the rate of recovery, wilderness programs may work because they force participants to disconnect from many of their daily distractions. Cell phones, for example, can take up much of a teen’s time. He spends hours monitoring activity on social media sites or texting multiple friends with updates in his own life. For many who engage in excessive use, this form of communicating can be paralyzing. They experience anger and withdrawal when the mobile device is confiscated by parents or other authority figures. In some cases, the removal of a cell phone has even revealed a decline in proper communication skills without the aid of an electronic device.
Wilderness therapy forces those who attend to get in touch with themselves and relearn ways of communicating effectively. Most of the time, this process begins with discovering again how to communicate with themselves. Many cannot reap the benefits of therapy unless they are able to get honest with themselves about what they want and how they wish to achieve it.
Being so close to nature also calms many of the other excesses in their lives. They do not know until they disconnect from it all just how dependent they have become on things they do not actually need. Simplicity is a sobering agent. It helps people refocus their lives on what is important and minimize the things that have taken them off course.
A final benefit of this type of program is the engagement in extracurricular activities, some of which they are trying for the very first time. Common activities include kayaking, canoeing, mountain climbing, hiking and camping. Those who have been troubled or living dysfunctional lives are exposed to something exciting and new. Their worlds open to possibilities they have not even known existed.
When teens come together with other teens whom they find much like themselves, there is a common bonding process that takes place. In group sessions, they are able to open up to counselors and freely share without fear of judgment. For some teens, this is not only a way out of their situations, but it is also a real way for them to positively change their lives.