Essay on Wilderness Therapy and Conventional Therapy

Essay on Wilderness Therapy and Conventional Therapy

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With an increasing number of individuals seeking mental health services and the issues these individuals face becoming deeper and more difficult to treat with conventional therapy, there is a greater need for more modern and creative therapy. Even more so, individuals are seeking treatment at a younger age and need more interventions to fit their needs. Wilderness therapy is a newer intervention found to be effective with youth and adolescents. This paper will examine the major components of wilderness therapy, the mental health disorders treated, the setting in which wilderness therapy is used, the appropriate client populations, multicultural considerations, and the limitations of this therapy.
Wilderness therapy is a form of therapy that combines the therapeutic benefits of adventure experiences and activities with traditional models of therapy (Foundations of Adventure Therapy, 2007). Wilderness therapy has a background in experiential education and is conducted in natural settings that “kinesthetically engage clients on cognitive, affective, and behavioral levels” (Norton et al., 2014). In wilderness therapy, clients are given the opportunity to rely upon each other all while using wilderness skills such as “pack building, shelter construction, fire making, and meal preparation” (Bettmann, Russell, & Parry 2013). There are two primary settings that wilderness therapy occurs in: a base camp where individuals remain in the same place for most of the program, and an expedition where individuals travel for most the duration of the program (Rutko & Gillespie, 2013). During their wilderness experience clients focus on treatment, daily life, and the present moment (Bettmann et al., 2013). The activities and challenges encountered ...


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... D. (1999). How wilderness therapy works: An examination of the wilderness therapy process to treat adolescents with behavioral problems and addictions. Retrieved from http://www.webpages.uidaho.edu/wrc/publications/montana1.pdf

Rutko, E. A., & Gillespie, J. (2013). Where's the wilderness in wilderness therapy?. Journal Of Experiential Education, 36(3), 218-232. doi:10.1177/1053825913489107

Scott, D. A., & Duerson, L. M. (2010). Continuing the discussion: A commentary on “wilderness therapy: ethical considerations for mental health professionals." Child & Youth Care Forum, 39(1), 63-68. doi:10.1007/s10566-009-9090-x)

Tucker, A., Javorski, S., Tracy, J., & Beale, B. (2013). The use of adventure therapy in community-based mental health: decreases in problem severity among youth clients. Child & Youth Care Forum, 42(2), 155-179. doi:10.1007/s10566-012-9190-x

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