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Top Questions to Ask Admissions Before Enrolling Your Young Adult or Adolescent/Pre-Teen in a Wilderness Therapy Program

The primary goal of the All Kinds of Therapy website is to provide a tremendous amount of helpful information about similar programs, so that you can help determine the best placement for your family’s needs. The details on the website will help you to answer these initial parent questions.  When you, as a parent, are in crisis, your head is spinning.  You are looking for information and facts to quantify something that is not easily quantifiable.  These “top questions” are just some of the questions you will have — call the admissions contact multiple times, they are used to hearing these questions.  Hire a professional (consultant or interventionist) who knows the program and the process.



  • How often will students shower, etc?  Ask about protocols ensuring kids’ hygiene.

  • What are the meals like? Can you do X type of meal (Kosher, gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, picky eater, etc)?

  • What or how will you deal with my teen when he is struggling?  

  • (How) will your model work with my child? (Explain your child on his / her worst day or most oppositional or sloth-like)

  • What is the process for a student who runs from the program? How often have you had a student run from a program?

  • Do you ever have to restrain a child? If so, what would be a circumstance?

  • How does the wilderness therapy program keep students safe in winter or extreme temperatures?

  • What happens during a holiday?



Since the staff are out in the field with the students 24/7 and therapists visit the field or base camp only a few days a week, it is expected for certain staff to get closer to your teen in a safe and mentoring way.  This is something that a family member might not understand at first, because the parent or guardian is communicating with the therapist weekly and he/she is your lifeline to your child.  But because of the consistent day in and day out of their life in the wilderness, relationships with their peers and the staff grow wonderfully, and these interpersonal relations are the microcosm you’ll hear about in letters and phone conversations.  It is vital – and interesting – to learn about where the staff comes from, backgrounds, educational background, and training.  

  • Where does the program find or hire program staff?

  • Read any Training information on the website, because the program is looking for employees to live out the model – therefore, you may discover different perspectives on day-to-day expectations for running a field group. In the summer, wilderness therapy programs expand their census tremendously. As necessary, how do they staff the larger groups?

  • What is the schedule for the staff exchanges? Is there anything that you do differently as a program during this time?

  • What is the process for weeding out staff who cannot hold boundaries or are not supporting the process?



Wilderness Therapy Programs often have a wide variety of different models to effect or support change in their students and family system;  really understanding the model and the inherent types of intervention is as important as the clinician who is working with your student.  

Some of the different types of therapies that are used are DBT Skills, CBT, Brainspotting, equine therapy, motivational interviewing, all compounded by the stressors, amazement, and cogent metaphors that come from the natural environment.   

  • Do the clinicians share mixed groups with other therapists or does each therapist have their own group? Why or why not? (This will get at the program’s philosophy on therapists and a snapshot into how the clinical department functions, or doesn’t, as a team.)

  • How much time in an average week is the therapist with my teen or the group as a whole?

  • Which therapist is right for my teen?  Why?

  • What would this therapist typically do when a student is “stuck” or apprehensive or combative?

  • What are the expectations of me as a parent or family member? There are more detail and direction listed on each young adult and adolescent/pre-teen wilderness therapy listing,  Check what is required or optional for each program —  Workshops, Separate Calls with a therapist, BiblioTHERAPY,  webinars, etc.




About the Author

Jenney Wilder M.S.Ed launched All Kinds of Therapy in 2015, as the only independent online directory for the Family Choice Behavioral Healthcare Industry. With an impressive case of ADHD and her starter career in the 90’s in Silicon Valley, the dream for creating a website with features like side-by-side comparison and an integrated newsletter was born. Jenney stopped counting treatment centers and all types of schools that she has visited when she hit 500 many years ago. She was the sponsoring author of the only Economic Impact Study of the Family Choice Behavioral Healthcare Industry, which revealed the only true financial figures about this industry (in Utah). Jenney has a Masters in Special Education from Bank Street College (NY) and a Bachelors of Arts focused on History from Wheaton College (MA).