Matt Hoag, PhD, Katie Massey, MSW and Sean Roberts, MS present the major evolutions in wilderness therapy clients’ complexity and meeting the new challenges with sophisticated clinical intervention at Symposium on Experiential Education Research (SEER) conference Oct 31 – Nov 2.
One of the best things about the Second Nature Wilderness program is the reverence we have for our families and their parallel healing process while their son or daughter is in treatment with us. Weekly calls, assignments, therapeutically focused letters, and family assignments round out our clinically focused process. The extent of our family program is second to none and we ask all of our parents to participate. Jennifer Graham is a skilled professional who runs our parent support groups in the bay area and in Los Angeles, and I run them here in Manhattan.We provide direct support in these in person monthly groups, but a unique process and psycho-educational piece arrives weekly in the form of our Webinars. Second Nature Webinars are live, online, run by our Special Projects manager, Patrick Logan and facilitated by Second Nature Co-Founder, Dr. Brad Reedy and other Second Nature therapists. Live, one hour, open-forum sessions are given each week. We provide client family members the opportunity to ask questions on a variety of topics. Additionally, client family members have access to an expansive library (over 100) of archived sessions. This has proved to be invaluable to our parents.
Recently a reputable wilderness therapist presented on the effectiveness of wilderness therapy at the American Psychology Association conference. Upon his return he shared his presentation was grouped in the same category as dance therapy! This is an amusing illustration of the confusion in defining wilderness therapy. A growing number of behavioral healthcare professionals are asking what should and shouldn’t be considered “wilderness therapy.” With interpretations ranging from boot camp to adventure trips there is an obvious need for a clear definition of wilderness therapy. A clear definition provides universal understanding of what wilderness therapy is and the extensive benefits gained from it.
Irvin Yalom1 identified eleven factors that contribute to healthy functioning in group therapy, which therapists may use to facilitate meaningful and effective interventions. Application of these factors to the wilderness therapy experience allows clinicians to both understand wilderness therapy on a more sophisticated level and to design interventions that serve to highlight or develop any of the factors.
The sun was setting on this particular balmy evening in October. A gentle breeze rustled through the juniper trees and brought wafts of sweet smelling sage across the open field near where the group was camped. The temperature was that perfect in-between: not real warm or real chilly. It was altogether different than the images of red rock formations and sprawling cactus that comes to mind when one thinks of the southwest, but then this was autumn in the high desert.