Outdoor Therapy involves the use of challenges found in nature (such as rock climbing,
white water activities, and backpacking) to provide growth experiences that can help people make fundamental changes
in their lives. These programs have been used for many
years as an adjunct to addiction treatment (the first
program was Colorado Outward Bound’s Alcohol and
Drug Courses in 1978). Therapeutic benefits of these programs
include establishing a deeper connection with the natural
world, nurturing the ability to trust one’s community
through the experience of teamwork, developing a healthier
relationship with the issues of control, taking responsibility
for one’s actions and how those actions impact others,
and increasing feelings of self-esteem, joy and pleasure.
The goal of these programs is to provide people with opportunities
and skills to deal with difficult situations so that they
can draw upon these experiences in the recovery process.
Outward Bound has been offering a variety of challenging wilderness
programs for over forty years. While it does not provide a
structured therapeutic recovery program, the emphasis on skills
development and personal growth in areas such as self-reliance,
responsibility, teamwork, leadership, confidence, and self-knowledge
can have a positive impact on long term recovery.
HealingQuest LLP (wildernessthx.com)
HealingQuest offers wilderness therapy to connect with the balance nature provides. Trips can be day trips or multiple days and offers a variety of outdoor activities. They emphasize being present in the natural environment and sharing experiences and insight with other participants. The clinical director works with participant's therapists to support recovery and treatment plans. Healing Quest is based in Boulder Colorado and has field areas in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico.
ANASAZI Foundation (anasazi.org)
ANASAZI Foundation is a licensed and JCAHO-accredited outdoor
behavioral healthcare provider for youth and young adults with substance
abuse and other emotional or behavioral concerns. It offers a variety
of programs including a 42-day outdoor treatment program for youths ages
12-17 and young adults ages 18-25, as well as outpatient counseling and
community drug awareness and education forums. They offer significant
financial assistance for those families in need.
Aspiro Adventure Wilderness Therapy (aspiroadventure.net)
Aspiro is a wilderness outdoor adventure therapy program where students live in the outdoors. It is licensed by the state of Utah as an Outdoor Behavioral Health Program and serves teens ages 13 to 17 and young adults ages 18 to 30 years old. It focuses on healing, direction, and personal empowerment through the use of a clinical approach intertwined with daily adventure activities. Students receive weekly individual and group therapy by a licensed therapist. An academic curriculum is available to all students who need high school credits. Aspiro's average length of stay is 54 days. The cost is $395 per day. There is an equipment and administration fee of $1,895.
Monarch Center for Family Healing (monarchfamilyhealing.com)
The Monarch Center is dedicated to working with families who are struggling with issues specific to the parent-adolescent relationship by utilizing both wilderness and relationship-based therapy in an intensive and transformative manner. These issues may include substance abuse, disrespecting authority, deliquency, academic struggles, emotional troubles, and peer conflicts. The long term wilderness therapy program for troubled teens is a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of 150 days, with the average length of stay between 60-80 days. Troubled teens and youths can earn academic credit in the wilderness therapy program.
Homes Youth Ranch (MHYR) (www.mhyr.com)
Mountain Homes Youth Ranch is a therapeutic growth program
in a wilderness setting. Licensed by the Colorado Department
of Human Services as a resident camp, MHYR conducts a three-phase
wilderness therapy program that provides the opportunity for
emotional and physical challenge. The program includes
daily group therapy and weekly individual therapy by a certified
counselor. Tuition is $275 per day and covers the child's
room, board, therapy, skills learning tools, 24-hour supervision,
recreational activities, and therapy. The minimum stay
is 42 days. The MHYR program is divided into three phases:
1) Beginning Wilderness phase which can be completed in 21
days 2) Advanced Wilderness phase which is also 21 days
and 3) Ranch Phase which provides additional time to
work on life skills, academics or work ethic. This typically
lasts 63 days and is considered an excellent transitioning
tool to the child's next living setting.
Pacific Quest (pacificquest.org)
This wilderness therapy program for struggling teens ages 13-18 is located on the Big Island of Hawaii. In addition to traditional wilderness therapy, sustainable life skills are taught. The wilderness program model provides students an opportunity to view the working farm, organic gardening and sustainable agriculture as a mirror for life’s challenges and rewards. Owned and operated by a veteran team of professionals with years of wilderness program experience, they offer a holistic, experiential, yet clinical approach to treatment that is individualized for each student.
Second Nature Wilderness Program (snwp.com)
This therapeutic outdoor program in Utah, Georgia, and Oregon has programs for preteens and younger adolescents (age 11-14), adolescents (ages 13-16) and adults (18 and older). Second Nature’s program was created and implemented by licensed clinicians. A licensed clinician develops an individualized treatment plan for each entering student, tailored to their specific therapeutic needs. Treatment includes individual and group therapy and also utilizes a therapeutic wilderness model: primitive living, ceremony, metaphor, and affinity for the beauty and spirituality of nature.
Youth Program (suwsyouth.com)
This outdoor experiential program based in southern Idaho
offers struggling teens between the ages of 11-13 and 14-17
a treatment program consisting of individualized treatment
plans and flexible lengths of stay.
Wilderness School (trailheadwildernessschool.com)
Trailhead Wilderness School is a wilderness therapy program
providing help for youths between the ages of 10 and 18 who
are struggling with a variety of issues including substance
abuse, depression, ADD, delinquency, poor school performance,
and anger management, among others. The program consists of
wilderness therapy, individual and family therapy, and an
educational program approved by the Colorado Department of
Education. There are two main programs: long term (from 30-150
days) and weekend courses available continuously throughout
the year. Trailhead is licensed as a Residential Treatment
Center by the Colorado Department of Human Services.