Shining a New Light on the Outdoors: Wilderness Therapy Essay

Shining a New Light on the Outdoors: Wilderness Therapy Essay

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His scent. His clothes. His words. He wasn't what I wanted my big brother, Jack, to be like. With bloodshot eyes, he looked through everyone and everything that surrounded him; he was lost and didn't care what my parents said. He did what he wanted. Coming home late smelling of marijuana and alcohol, he was simply careless. I would lie in bed and listen to the screaming and arguing, while a river of tears would stream down my face.
As a child, I didn't understand. Why does he have to do whatever he's doing? All I wanted was a brother who would protect me from the big scary monsters under my bed and the "bad guys" who only lived in the movies. My parents did their best to try to explain to me what was happening in my brother's life, but they never really got to the point of why he was doing it. Him being their first teenager, it seemed they were just as confused as I was on his reasoning.
When Jack graduated and moved onto college, my parents thought he would turn his life around, but unsurprisingly, he failed to do so. I used to watch my mother tap her tired hands on the keyboard for hours, researching ways to handle "out-of-control" children. Luckily, she came across a program, National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), and thought it was worth a try to discuss the program with Jack. I eavesdropped on my parents conversation with Jack and the second I saw a slight gleam of interest in his eyes for going on a semester long trip in Colorado that focused on outdoor skills, leadership and environmental ethics, I knew my parents would sign him up.
The next semester rolled around and off to the airport my mother, father, sister, Jack, and I went. It was time for my brother to say goodbye, only to return in three months time. I saw worr...


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...ome. Due to this wilderness therapy process, outcomes for participants are long-term and positive! In hindsight, wilderness therapy is a very effective form of treatment for at-risk youth because the participants get to experience therapy in a whole new light and overcome obstacles mentally and physically while being completely immersed in the outdoors and surrounded by people in similar situations. It’s hard to imagine that my brother was one of those “people”. Today, when I look at my brother, I no longer see the blank, blood shot stare that never used to leave his eyes. I see wisdom. I see growth. I see Jack.



Works Cited

"Dangers of Wilderness Programs." Alliance for the Safe, Therapeutic &
Appropriate Use of Residential Treatment. Alliance for the Safe,
Therapeutic and Appropriate Use of Residential Treatment, 5 Feb. 2014. Web.
18 Mar. 2014.

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