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Dr. Matt Hoag, Katie Massey and Sean Roberts present at 13th Annual SEER Conference

Posted by Matt Hoag, Ph.D. on October 31, 2013

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.

Dr. Matt Hoag, Katie Massey, and Sean Roberts present “Dissecting the Wilderness Therapy Client: Clinical Trends, Findings and Industry Patterns” to their professional colleagues at the 13th Annual SEER Conference. They are presenting on the recent changes in typical adolescent and young adult students, including data on the prevalence of mood disorders and dual diagnoses.

Essentially, they dive into the requirement that “wilderness field instructors and therapists are no longer just providing a sober experience; rather, they are providing intensive mental health treatment in the setting of the wilderness.”

Second Nature’s research team has demonstrated that significant change occurs over the course of a client’s time at Second Nature. Equally important, they show that our clients are able to maintain their progress at six months after having graduated from the program.Using a series of standardized and validated measures, including the Youth Outcome Questionnaire (YOQ) for adolescents and the Outcome Questionnaire (OQ) for young adults. These measures show change over time in regards to behavioral difficulties, depression, anxiety, interpersonal relations and other psychological difficulties.You can find extensive information on this research at Second Nature. Our preliminary study is explained in a webinar link found at the top. There are also links to our specific outcome data as it relates to adolescents and young adults.They are currently engaged in in a longitudinal follow-up study, adding other variables in order to understand how and why change happens.

Below is a brief list of significant studies on Wilderness Therapy and their abstracts (ordered by year). For more on these studies and additional information on research in Wilderness Therapy, visit the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Research Cooperative.

Russell, K. C. (2003). Assessment treatment outcomes in outdoor behavioral healthcare using the Youth Outcome Questionnaire. Child and Youth Care Forum, 32(6), 355-381.

Russell, K. C. (2005). Two years later: A qualitative assessment of youth well-being and the role of aftercare in outdoor behavioral healthcare treatment. Child & Youth Care Forum, 34(3), 209-239.

Behrens, E. N., & Satterfield, K. M. (2007). Longitudinal family and academic outcomes in residential programs: How students function in two important areas of their lives. Journal of Therapeutic Schools and Programs, 2(1), 81-94.

Russell, K. C., Gillis, H. L., & Lewis, T. G. (2008). A five-year follow up of a nationwide survey of outdoor behavioral healthcare program. Journal of Experiential Education, 31(1), 55-77.

Behrens, E. N., Santa, J., & Gass, M. (2010). The evidence base for private therapeutic schools, residential programs and wilderness therapy programs. Journal of Therapeutic Schools and Programs, 4(1), 106-117.

Young, M. C., & Gass, M. (2010). Preliminary data from the NATSAP research and evaluation network: Client characteristics at admission. Journal of Therapeutic Schools and Programs, 4(1), 80-105.

Magle-Haberek, N. A., Tucker, A. R., Gass, M. A. (2012). Effects of program differences with wilderness therapy and residential treatment center (RTC) programs. Residential Treatment for Children & Youth, 29, 202-218.


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