The Nomadic Wilderness Model Empowers Students at Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness
The nomadic model encourages students at Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness (BRTW) to welcome their environment as an unwavering component of their therapeutic journey. Adolescent and young adult clients at Blue Ridge live in the wilderness with their group and field staff for the entirety of their stay in the program: frequent hiking, cooking over a fire, building sturdy shelters and working together as a team are all essential to this framework, which integrates a genuine backcountry experience with weekly therapy sessions and 24/7 access to wilderness professionals. The seamlessness of the nomadic wilderness experience influences students to develop resiliency as they learn to create “home” wherever they go – not just in the sunshine, but in whatever weather they encounter.
Nomadic wilderness therapy limits students’ exposure to activities and material items which may have been problematic before their enrollment in the program. Devices and distractions are replaced with the sounds and sights of nature; this enables clients to get back in touch with themselves, their emotions and their physical bodies. The removal of personal attire (BRTW provides all students’ clothing and gear) also contributes to eliminating distractions – and it keeps their belongings safe while students live and hike in the wilderness for (an average of) 9 weeks.
While some discomfort is intentional and crucial to the therapeutic process, Blue Ridge works to provide high-quality gear, nourishment and overall care to all clients by taking into account the specific needs of each individual. This emphasis on care is something that owner Dan McDougal believed was missing from many wilderness programs. Along with implementing the nomadic model, Dan and the rest of the BRTW staff are committed to providing what is necessary for students to be able to fully embrace their therapeutic experience.
Nomadic wilderness therapy is where consistency and natural consequences combine to create pivotal, life-changing lessons and opportunities for growth. At home or in base camp models, distractions can be more difficult (or impossible) to control. Unless it’s necessary, students at BRTW remain in the wilderness until it’s time to transition to their next steps. The only vehicles around are the trucks that bring resupply, field instructors, and therapists. Each student’s group, field instructors, therapists, transport staff and nurses are the only people with whom they interact. Students live out structured days with Wilderness First Responders (WFRs) eating nutritious foods, drinking clean, filtered water and working towards increasing their physical and emotional resiliency. In this setting, students often learn that they are capable of so much more than they thought- and this is made possible by the seamless and consistent nomadic wilderness experience provided at Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness.
With an integrated approach, BRTW combines assessment and wilderness-based therapeutic interventions to teach students and their families skills necessary to understand themselves, their families and how to connect in meaningful ways. For more information about Blue Ridge, visit www.blueridgewilderness.com or contact an admissions counselor today at 888-914-1040.