Wilderness therapy has been a very common choice when it comes to having adolescents and young adults attend residential treatment for drug addiction, co-occurring disorders or behavioral therapy. But what is it about wilderness therapy that is so effective?
What is a wilderness therapy?
Wilderness therapy is a subset of residential addiction or behavioral treatment, typically using wilderness expeditions as a type of therapeutic intervention. Often the goal of wilderness therapy programs is to help teach the individual the importance of self-respect as well as self-reliance while at the same time helping them in identifying underlying issues.
Oftentimes these programs act as a precursor to sober living or aftercare, introducing the individual to a different lifestyle than the destructive one they have been accustomed to. The prospect of a sober lifestyle can be difficult for individuals to be accustomed to, so introducing it alongside a program where they are able to build self esteem can help form a great foundation for long-term recovery.
Changing Therapy with Playmates & Playground
First and foremost, wilderness therapy is a huge escape from the distractions and potential pitfalls of residential treatment in a metropolitan area. A lot of individuals may be tempted to simply leave before any of the ‘magic’ happens if they have the opportunity to do so. Wilderness therapy aims to eliminate this distraction all together.
Changing not only the environment but the peer group is an integral part of introducing a new lifestyle and wilderness therapy excels in this respect. Individuals are often placed with other peers in their age group who are also suffering from similar issues. This helps them identify their problems with others who are also seeking a new lifestyle in recovery.
Wilderness Therapy as an Introduction To Recovery
While in wilderness therapy, individuals are confronted with the reality of their destructive behavior and placed in an environment where they are able to educate themselves on their issues, whether it be addiction or otherwise. Ideally speaking, this process helps bring about an experience that opens the eyes of the individual to a life of not only recovery, but success as well!
It is important to remember that as a form of residential treatment, wilderness therapy programs are only the beginning. When coupled with a structured long-term aftercare, wilderness therapy can provide the best chances of success for adolescents and young adults alike.