Wilderness Therapy Is Hard- For Participants and Guides
Participants and field guides leave family and friends behind and arrive to what most experience as quite foreign. The wilderness, with just a backpack filled with the basic needs; a tarp and sleeping bag for shelter, clothing layers for warmth and protection, and food. Participants and field guides are camping, cooking on a fire, hiking, and all while living in a small group isolated from the outside world. They are without everyday comforts like a toilet, bed, or cell phone and there are emotional and mental stressors; living outside in the rain, snow and sunshine while being a part of a group, doing chores, sharing your feelings, and participating in individual and group therapy.
Posted by Anthony Salerno on January 26, 2023 | 1 comment(s)
While considering potential topics to help kick off our 2023 blog schedule, I was excited to find a way to incorporate my upcoming 10-year anniversary with Evoke. I also felt driven to do what I jokingly refer to as, “the annoying therapist thing” (insert student eye-roll here) of bringing meaning to the mundane. With that in mind, I narrowed in on one of my favorite parts of our introduction groups at Evoke as the basis for a larger discussion around community and team-building.
As the new year approaches, many of us are reflecting on the challenges and struggles of the past year and looking for ways to move forward and find healing. For me, one of the most important tools in my journey towards healing has been therapy.
It’s understandable that any parent might worry about “kids that are worse than mine in the group” as a family embarks on a therapeutic journey in the wilderness—it is a common question. As parents, we worry about our children's daily influences in most realms of their lives. With taking the leap into wilderness, and this concept at a deeper level, it can feel as if enrollment itself could be facing us with a bigger question. Is my kid that “bad?” Are we really at this point?
Summer began this year and I had multiple things happen all within two weeks. The air conditioning in my home stopped working during one of the hottest months (think 115 degree weather) and it took almost a week to get fixed. My rent was raised by $150, and I hadn’t budgeted for it. I got Covid, after dodging it for almost two years. And last, but certainly not least, I was diagnosed with stage 2b Triple Negative Breast Cancer. So here I am at the age of 32, with an almost 3-year-old daughter, sweating to death, broke, and fighting sickness and cancer. To say I was angry is an understatement. The anger bubbled on the surface, leaking over into irritation, but never fully into an open emotion. It was so much at once that I went numb and didn’t quite know how I was supposed to feel.
I think we, as a society, have somehow arrived at the doomed belief that parents are supposed to make their children happy. And if that’s the emotional goal of parenting, then that’s it. Done deal. Failure. Because life is hard. Painful. And every path out there will hold heartbreak and sadness. It is impossible to protect a human being from it. Ultimately, part of what makes us human is trying to make sense of our experience. Springing from this search comes art, literature, music, and a multitude of ways to connect to others. It’s the beauty and challenge of being human.
Each week we ask parents and their adolescent children to communicate by writing letters. Letter writing can be one of the most powerful tools you have to establish new ways of relating and communicating hopes and feelings. Letter writing can be seen as an opportunity to re-author your relationship with your child. It also provides a forum for you to assess and consider patterns your child engages in when communicating with you through letters.
(L-R) De Snook from the Warrior Families group, Dr. Brad Reedy, and blog author Becci McNeely
I recently took a trip to the East Coast and Canada with our Co-Founder and Executive Clinical Director Dr. Brad Reedy. On this week-long journey, we met with numerous programs, professionals, and parents and Brad presented at least 16 hours of teaching. What struck me as I witnessed all of these encounters is how people wanted—needed—answers. How should I…? What do I do when…? What would you say…? How do I get them to…?