Pros and Cons of Wilderness Programs

Wilderness programs are the use of wilderness expeditions for the purpose of therapeutic intervention. This is often used for troubled teenagers as a method of behavior modification. While the nature of these programs have been up for debate, when executed properly they offer a chance for a fresh start and self-growth.

Recent studies have shown that teenagers who attend wilderness programs have continued improvement in their behavior, a year after completion. Many of these students have described such programs as positive, beneficial, and enjoyable. When a wilderness program is put together properly, it’s run by a highly trained clinical staff. These individuals ensure the well-being of the participants while teaching them self-reliance and self-respect.

While wilderness programs can be successful, they also contain several faults that parents should be aware of. When considering sending your troubled teen to a therapy program it’s important to research all aspects. Some programs that offer “wilderness therapy” are actually teen boot camps in a wilderness environment. In certain situations, treatment programs have had instances of abuse, injury, and accidental death.

Additionally, the cost of a therapeutic wilderness program can vary due to the personal factors of the teenager. Successful programs with a reliable staff can be costly due to the effectiveness of the behavior modification. Also, parents need to be cautious of programs being offer overseas as they’re run under different laws and restrictions than in the United States.

In order to see if your teenager is a candidate for a wilderness program, they will be asked to take an assessment test. Most programs exclude teens on serious medications or that display behavior issues such as being suicidal or violent. As a parent, it’s important to ask as many questions as possible about the safety measures that the program executes. This will keep both you and your teenage at ease throughout the duration of the therapeutic wilderness program.