Outdoor behavioral healthcare is the prescriptive use of wilderness experiences by licensed mental health professionals to meet the therapeutic needs of clients.
Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare (OBH) consists of:
• Extended back-country travel and wilderness living experiences long enough to allow for clinical assessment, establishment of treatment goals, and a reasonable course of treatment not to exceed the productive impact of the experience,
• Active and direct use of clients’ participation and responsibility in their therapeutic process,
• Continuous group-living and regular formal group therapy sessions to foster teamwork and social interactions (excluding solo experiences),
• Individual therapy sessions, which may be supported by the inclusion of family therapy,
• Adventure experiences utilized to appropriately enhance treatment by fostering the development of eustress (i.e., the positive use of stress) as a beneficial element in the therapeutic experience,
• The use of nature in reality as well as a metaphor within the therapeutic process, and
• A strong ethic of care and support throughout the therapeutic experience.
The Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Council and its member programs have been instrumental in raising the bar for wilderness treatment, facilitating research on the efficacy of wilderness treatment for adolescents, and in promoting the industry. AEE OBH Accreditation is a requirement of all OBH Council member programs that must be attained within two years of their acceptance to membership.