Should I Send My Teen to Wilderness Therapy?

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Calendar icon Last Updated: 11/8/2018

Reading Time: 3 minutes

It can be heartbreaking for parents of adolescents to see their children struggling with their life due to substance abuse and behavior problems. When it comes to the decision of finding treatment for their adolescent child, it can be difficult to decide what would be best. While treating their specific addiction and/or behavior issue is imperative, choosing the proper therapy to begin treatment can be vital. A treatment approach that can be effective for teens is wilderness therapy.

According to the University of Idaho, development of the self through the wilderness therapy process is combined with learning a multitude of personal and interpersonal skills, which include communication skills, drug and alcohol awareness, and coping skills.

Deciding Whether or Not to Send Your Teen to Wilderness Therapy

Wilderness Therapy

In wilderness programs teens connect with others while learning to be independent.

The choice of sending your teen to an outdoor based therapy program is yours. However, in trying to decide if this may be helpful as their treatment plan, here are some benefits you may want to consider:

  • The natural beauty and wonder of the great outdoors can provide a sense of calm that promotes peace and tranquility. A teen is away from major distractions, and can be able to pay more attention to the process of their therapeutic sessions.
  • They can learn to build confidence and coping skills to deal with the stress they are experiencing as they get older. This can allow them to make better decisions instead of resorting to negative behavior, or escaping to the world of substance abuse to cover up their feelings.
  • They receive counseling throughout their time spent outdoors with their counselors, and with other teens while participating in group activities. This helps them improve their communication skills, so they can express themselves better, and talk about their issues.
  • Teens that have a substance abuse problems will be in a drug-free setting. There is no access to drugs or alcohol. Therefore, they have a better chance at staying away from harmful substances.

A wilderness therapy program might be just what a parent needs to better understand their kid’s behavioral problems and/or substance abuse disorder. The natural outdoor setting can help them focus better and allow them to think more clearly. Together with the counseling and other treatment services they can receive, teens in the outdoors can have a chance at getting back to being healthy, and become closer to their family.

Activities Available for Teens in Outdoor Based Therapy Program

There can be a variety of activities for teens to stay busy and focus on themselves, along with learning to get along with others. While each teen will have their own individualized treatment plan, they still participate in activities with others too. This offers them the opportunity to build friendships with other teens that have similar problems. They can help one another out emotionally, and build lasting relationships. Some of the activities teens get to participate together are:

  • Take hikes together
  • Make a camp fire
  • Learn to set a camp site
  • Clean up the camp site
  • Group discussions

The group activities, as well as the teen’s individual treatment plan may differ from those mentioned above. Depending on the wilderness therapy program you choose for your teen, there may be more options available. By speaking to a treatment specialist that has experience with outdoor based programs for teens. They can help you decide if this type of therapy may be right for your teen.

Where do calls go?

Calls to numbers on a specific treatment center listing will be routed to that treatment center. Additional calls will also be forwarded and returned by a quality treatment center within the USA.

Calls to any general helpline (non-facility specific 1-8XX numbers) for your visit will be answered by a licensed drug and alcohol rehab facility, a paid advertiser on

All calls are private and confidential.