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Understanding Different Models of Wilderness Programs for Troubled Teens

Life of teenagers is drenched in emotional, mental, and behavioral distress. Almost every teen faces daily life challenges like bullying and gaming addiction. Sometimes, these common issues cross the lines and impede the peaceful trajectory of their lives. They start behaving in a way that no parent, peer, and teachers at the traditional school can perceive. They react to their miserable acts in a predictable way, as if, the teen has been misbehaving out of his or her immoral intent. But the truth is they need help more than anyone can ever construe. They are lying under the pressure of being judged if they share what they feel and struggle through with people. Summer programs for troubled teens like wilderness therapy are what they need at this very point.

These programs are specially organized to escape them from the turmoil of negative influences and unacceptable surroundings and unveil the sanctity of wilderness to their sight and soul. The intervention of clinical and therapeutic assistance in the natural surrounding evokes fertile dialogue about relationships and intentions and promote group dynamics, individual improvement, and safety. The confluence of group participation, working through hardships, and omnipresence of the corporeal world varies based on different models that are used to draft the program. Read on further to know about these models in detail.


Taking place in the backcountry, the model restricts the communication with the outside world. Either the therapeutic milieu is completely hiking-based or includes adventure-based activities like mountaineering, white water rafting, rappelling, etc. Also, the therapists drive down to their site, offering weekly group and individual counselling sessions. But in this model, they aren’t supposed to stay overnight with them. Hence, adolescents’ therapeutic tension and purposeful challenges occurring beyond the direct observation of the therapists, are dealt with by instructors and field staff during the experiential aspects.


Hiking, biking, and car riding are common elements of the base camp model, where individuals are taken on an expedition and brought back to the base camp weekly to replenish metamorphically and literally. This model is subclassified into three categories, namely, adventure therapy, backpacking, and horticulture therapy. All these models are different in their range of areas they cover to invite self-reflection and foster natural and hygienic concerns.


The model is lesser opted for because it’s personally customized for those teenagers who either need wilderness therapy as part of the first phase of their entire treatment or to simply combat some specific difficulties. Rest is the task of therapists to evaluate every individual psychologically, academically, and emotionally and discern everything that has been concealed under their maladaptive behavior. 

In more explicit words, different models of wilderness programs for troubled teens are inclusive of a sense of challenge confronting the struggler, natural rewards and consequences for every action, peer mentoring, personal and physical development, and self-reflection. So, choose wisely which model suits your needs the most.

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Joined: May 31st, 2018
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