Many years back, approximately 10 years ago, wilderness therapy was perceived by most professionals and families as a “necessary stop” before a therapeutic school, for students who exhibited a defiant attitude and were into as we say “sex, drugs, and rock and roll”. Now we know that wilderness programs can be designed as well for anxious students, students on the spectrum, and students who do not fit this profile. Unfortunately, many therapists who are not educational consultants and have not kept up with changes in wilderness still believe this is the current state of affairs. Nothing could be further from the reality/truth! One dramatic change in therapy has been the increase in the involvement and therapy conducted with the family… a change we see as both a necessity and very valuable.
We just got an email from one program today describing their family program. We are so encouraged by the level of family support at almost all wilderness programs today. Our job as educational consultants is to help a family pick the right therapist and right program for their child, depending on the issues for both the child and the family. We support the idea of family workshops, family quests, family seminars… and there are significant differences in the offerings, depending upon the program.
In the old model of wilderness, a family might come to pick up their child from wilderness and go to a “grad camp”. Now, families have many choices, including in some programs, a private family quest, or a workshop with 2-3 other families. Some wilderness programs offer a separate family therapist independent of the therapist assigned to the student in wilderness, some offer social media support, some offer webinars, and all offer some assignments for families while the child or young adult is in therapy and weekly phone calls with parents.
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