Adventure Therapy and Wilderness Program Therapy for Young Adults

Adventure therapy is a therapeutic process that has been around for the last 40 years. The underlying theory that drives adventure therapy is experiential education where learning is largely influenced by direct experience. Since its early years, there have been many different variations of adventure therapy, and most of them have been said to positively influence self concept and self esteem. One such offshoot of adventure therapy is wilderness therapy for young adults.

Controversies about Wilderness Program Therapy for young adults
Wilderness therapy has had its own share of controversies, but they mostly come from the fact that there are wilderness boot camps that brand themselves as wilderness therapy programs. The truth is that wilderness boot camp are very different because of the approach that they take with teens that participate with their program. Wilderness boot camps are typically just boot camps that are set in the wilderness. Boot camps are not therapeutic in nature and is not fitting for troubled teens who are in need of therapy. In fact, while teens seem subdued during and after boot camp, there’s a high rate of recidivism that happens shortly afterwards.

Why not just therapy?
There are times when traditional therapy is just not enough. Leaving a troubled teen at home is not a very good idea. Especially with teens who are defiant or who have substance abuse issues. Keeping them clean without quitting your job and watching over them would be virtually impossible. Also, removing access to substances is not a lasting solution. Most defiant teens who have substance abuse issues are trying to deal with emotional pain. Addiction is not something you can deal with simply by taking away access to addictive substances. There will come a time when your teen will be alone and without you there to look after them. How will you make sure that they are strong and stable enough to just say “no”? The same goes with teens who are depressed, who are battling eating disorders, who are involved with the wrong crowd, and more. They don’t just need to be watched over, they need real help.

Why wilderness therapy programs?
Wilderness program therapy for young adults provide what typical homes will not be able to provide. Along with constant adult supervision, they also provide sufficient individual therapy. Parents know how powerful peer influence can be on teens. In wilderness therapy programs, peer influence is used for positive reinforcement. Here are the other benefits of signing up for wilderness therapy for troubled teens:

1. Removing your child away from distractions – At school and in the neighborhood, there are distractions, temptations, and bad influence that affect how your child responds to you and to therapy. Taking your child away from this through signing them up with wilderness therapy can be the first step that makes the big difference.

2. Emphasis on healthy living – Any bad habits that is pulling your child down will be faced and dealt with in wilderness therapy. There’s no place to buy or get cigarettes, alcohol or drugs, there are no video games, internet, and TV. They sleep early, they wake up early, they eat healthy, and enjoy healthy physical activity.

3. Activities that are meant to empower your child – One of the first things that troubled teens need to regain is their self esteem. During wilderness therapy, they begin to get a renewed sense of accomplishment, a better self image, and they can begin to believe in themselves again.

4. Aftercare program – One thing that would determine how long the positive effects of wilderness programs will have on teens is the aftercare program. After the program, teens will need to reintegrate back to society. Although they will be better adjusted and more stable, the world outside is just so overwhelmingly different at times. Teens need all the help they can get to get back and find their bearings again.