Young men who are struggling in life are often unable to really reach their fullest potential. They are given to their impulses, make bad choices, and hang out with bad company. Parents who are concerned with this, often consider therapy. However, in some instances, therapy in a clinical environment is not as effective as providing therapy in a less restrictive environment.
Wilderness therapy programs for young men is a great way to meet the struggle head-on in a place where they can get in touch with themselves and something bigger than themselves. Most wilderness therapy programs incorporate clinical models like the 12 step model as well as intensive therapy and intervention. Others use a more traditional outdoor therapy approach where participants are encouraged to commune with nature and themselves, participate in group activities without coercion or confrontation, and provide individual as well as group therapy.
Why have therapy in the wilderness?
Parents who are thinking about enrolling their teenaged son to wilderness therapy may be wondering about the principles behind using the wilderness as a venue and a means for therapy.
In wilderness therapy, teens are removed from the many distractions and harmful influences they encounter in their daily life. It gives them a chance to really be able to identify the root of their problems and in effect, find a true solution for it. Teens who get involved with substance abuse, for instance, can better identify the reasons that started the addiction in the first place.
Dealing with something as large and unrelenting as nature also gives you a better perspective in life. It helps young men realize their function in society, their significance in their family as well as in their community. The wilderness itself puts young men in a position where they must adjust to adapt to their environment. Out in the wilderness, there are a lot of things that one cannot control. However, one can control one’s self and how one reacts to the situation.
Young men learn skills they need to thrive in the wilderness while at the same time fortifying their bodies with physical activity and healthy food. One may argue that skills learned in the wilderness isn’t useful for modern living, but the truth is that the principle behind it and the underlying values of self-reliance, personal responsibility, resilience, self-esteem, self-worth, and empowerment are byproducts of being able to survive and fend for yourself. Young men come out of wilderness therapy knowing that they are capable of more and that it’s alright to expect more from themselves.
Just living in the wilderness isn’t enough, though. The therapy component of wilderness programs teaches young men how to take the lessons they learn from the wilderness and translate that into real skills that will help them in their everyday world. Therapy gives them the chance to learn skills that can help them deal with stressful people and situations in a healthy, constructive way.
In some instances, it’s more beneficial to follow up wilderness therapy programs for young men with therapeutic boarding school. That way, the transition would be supported by a less rigorous program, but still structured and individualized enough to continue the recovery process.