Hampshire Country School, Traditional School and Therapeutic Milieu
The prescriptive use of adventure toward a therapeutic goal defines Adventure Therapy. But, what if there is no “prescriber” in the milieu? Can the milieu still be considered adventure-based and therapeutic? Is there no therapy without a therapist or a treatment plan?
When Henry and Adelaide Patey opened Hampshire Country School (HCS) in 1948, they had a cadre of clinical professionals to rely upon as they enrolled “severely emotionally disturbed,” boys and girls from ages 8-18. There was no more nuanced nomenclature for their profile, yet. The only other specifier was that students were exceptionally bright or gifted in some way. So, when fiercely intelligent, emotionally disturbed, socially stymied adolescents landed in the Boston area psychiatric hospitals, Henry often made the hour and a half drive down to pick them up. They traded small, sterile, controlled spaces for 1800 acres of New Hampshire wilderness. Other students arrived with nervous parents following an instinct that the hospital was not the right fit, though not entirely certain how this rural school community would be any better.
Hampshire Country School’s adventure-based therapeutic milieu relies on novelty, inherent challenges, built competencies, and overcoming discomfort. To create opportunity for change, these elements are integrated through meaningful relationships, a family-style approach, structure, and lightheartedness.
Their founders recognized that while the profiled student HCS serves might be highly resistant to traditional therapeutic services, Hampshire Country School is a place of possibilities when the land, adventures, and relationships are leveraged alongside a traditional school curriculum. In over 70 years, much has changed while the school meets a specific need because of its unique place between traditional and therapeutic.
Hampshire Country School (HCS) is a 10-month boarding school in southern New Hampshire for high-ability, neurodiverse boys enrolling in later elementary or middle school. HCS offers understanding, light-heartedness, and structure to educate boys in a family-style, supportive, and collaborative learning community.