Does Wilderness Therapy Program Work For Troubled Teens?
For many, the teenage phase of life is often the period of troubles. The sudden hormonal changes in the body lead to extreme behavioral situations such as addiction, defiance, absence of motivation and other such self-defeating behaviors. If not corrected on time, the troubled phase could be a permanent issue for the teen as he or she grows up further. Among the many therapies to help out the troubled teens, the wilderness therapy has received much attention.
Wilderness therapy program is a form of adventure therapy where teens have to live in the wilderness, amidst nature – for say 50 days- with other troubled teens and licensed counselors. Does it work? Well, according to studies, wilderness therapy program for troubled teens has been able to address several issues such as depression, substance addiction, motivation issues, AD(H)D, anxiety and personality disorders.
Teens who sign up for wilderness programs have to live in a completely natural environment, free from all sorts of urban distractions like cell phones or the internet. This allows them the needed time with themselves when they can reflect back upon their past deeds and contemplate on how such misdeeds brought misery or failure in their lives. The calm serenity of nature exercises the same tranquil effect on the person living within it. The troubled teen goes back with a calm and composed mind and as a matured individual.
Wilderness therapy teaches the teens the lessons of mutual cooperation through group task assignments. As they are taken far away from their own comfort zone and made to cohabit with unknown people, the teens gradually learn the art of adjustment and sharing with anybody. The life away from home brings them closer to other teens and mentors, which in turn helps with increased attention and interest during the mentor’s counseling. In fact, it has been shown that nature enhances attention in people and hence, an au-natural environment helps the teens to stay more attentive in the counseling sessions.
One of the major benefits of wilderness therapy is that the teens get to learn the lesson of self-reliance and self-efficacy. The wilderness camps run with limited resources and the teens have to do everything on their own. It could be anything from hiking to fishing to making fire for cooking food. They learn to perform such tasks which they could not even think of being able to perform someday. It infuses a sense of boosted confidence and self respect in them. They learn the very philosophy that they are capable of doing almost everything, if they are ready with a strong will power and hard work. They find a meaning in life which enables them to march ahead with a positive attitude.
Nature is a hard task master. A life away from urban amenities makes the teens realize that they cannot get everything they want just like that and no tantrums would work with nature’s wills. Thus, they learn to cope peacefully with whatever they are getting and how to make the better of the existing situation in a cool and calm manner.
Studies have found that teens from wilderness therapy return home as better, controlled and balanced individuals.