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Wilderness Therapy for Young Adults: Benefits, Expectations, and Programs

If you’re feeling lost and uncertain of your place in the world, you’re not alone. Mental health struggles, addiction, anger, grief, loneliness, depression, and other difficult life circumstances take their toll and can quickly feel unmanageable on your own. If you resonate with that, wilderness therapy for young adults can be an immensely helpful experience. Keep reading to discover the benefits of wilderness therapy and learn how to find wilderness therapy programs for young adults to support you in your healing journey.

What is the Purpose of Wilderness Therapy for Young Adults?

Wilderness therapy is a type of treatment that uses nature as a tool for healing. Wilderness therapy aims to help young adults develop skills for coping with difficult life experiences and connect with themselves and their surroundings in a new way. Through activities like hiking, camping, and group therapy discussions, young adults learn to develop new coping skills and build confidence. In addition, participants receive individualized attention and therapy designed to help them overcome mental and physical barriers and transition into adulthood with the tools they need to succeed.

What are the Benefits of Attending Wilderness Therapy Programs for Young Adults?

Wilderness therapy is based on the premise that being in nature can benefit those struggling with mental health issues, addiction, and trauma. Scientific studies have found that time in nature can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression and increase happiness and creativity. Therefore, the setting of a wilderness therapy program already has scientifically-backed benefits. Coupled with the program activities and therapeutic support, young adults can experience immense benefits by participating.

1. Wilderness Therapy Minimizes Distractions and Triggers

By spending time in nature, away from the distractions and triggers of everyday life, young adults can begin to gain clarity and perspective. They can start to work through their issues and develop healthy coping mechanisms. In the wilderness, there are no electronic devices or social media to distract from the work of therapy. This can be helpful for those who find it difficult to focus on treatment in an urban environment. Additionally, wilderness therapy can provide a sense of calm and peace that may be lacking in day-to-day life. For young adults struggling to manage their mental health, wilderness therapy can be an effective way to receive treatment.

2. Wilderness Therapy Helps Identify Root Issues

While wilderness therapy programs for young adults teach physical skills and encourage behavioral adjustments, it goes deeper. Because of the lack of technology and outside distractions, young adults have an opportunity to dive deep into the root causes of their challenges. Through therapeutic activities, participants learn to recover their mindset and adjust their attitudes as they work through the troubling situations they’ve faced to experience acceptance and lasting healing and change.

3. Wilderness Therapy Offers Room for Relational Growth

Relationships are a core aspect of the human experience, and for young adults who struggle with addiction, trauma, abuse, and the like, forming positive relationships can be challenging. Throughout a wilderness therapy program, participants can create meaningful connections with their peers and instructors. It’s an opportunity to improve social and communication skills in a safe and supportive environment with others in similar situations.

4. Wilderness Therapy is a Confidence Booster

Wilderness therapy for young adults tends to be a very liberating experience. While it can be physically and emotionally challenging, overcoming those challenges breeds new confidence in one’s ability to overcome any of life’s challenges. Throughout the experience, participants achieve and accomplish new things daily and begin to learn who they are at the core.

5. Wilderness Therapy Offers New Experiences and Outlooks on Life

Young adults learn practical skills during a wilderness program, like how to build shelters, cook food, and purify water. They also participate in outdoor activities that may have never been an option before. Through these experiences, young adults can learn how to navigate difficult situations, overcome fear, and allow their creativity to lead them. This can help them rediscover their true passions and find a new direction in life emotionally, vocationally, relationally, and behaviorally.

What are the Expectations When Attending Wilderness Therapy Programs for Young Adults?

For many young adults, wilderness therapy is a life-changing experience that helps them find themselves and begin to build a better future. However, this only happens when participants are fully immersed in the program.

There are many different wilderness therapy programs for young adults, but most share some commonalities. Typically, participants can expect to spend several weeks in the wilderness, living in primitive conditions and engaging in various physical activities. The goal of the program is to help participants develop new skills and perspectives they can use in their everyday lives. Many programs also focus on fostering teamwork and cooperation while developing a greater appreciation for nature. While the experience can be challenging, it is also often very rewarding. Participants who successfully complete a wilderness therapy program often report feeling more confident, capable, and better equipped to handle the challenges of everyday life.

When is Young Adult Wilderness Therapy Not the Right Treatment Option?

Wilderness therapy programs are short-term assessment and stabilization residential treatment options. Enrolling in a wilderness therapy program as a young adult means you must meet the admissions criteria for the treatment provider. Several of them specialize in stabilization and treatment once a detox has been done. However, if you are in immediate harm to yourself or others, you need to call 911.

If you’re unsure whether or not attending a wilderness therapy program is the best next step in your healing journey, talk to your medical team to develop a treatment plan that can best support you. Or contact the admissions team to discuss your medical needs and wants to ensure there is a match.

You can read this blog post to learn more about what young adults were surprised with when they enrolled in a wilderness therapy program.

How to Find the Right Wilderness Program for You

If you are ready to experience the benefits of wilderness therapy for young adults, you can use our directory to start your search. The advertisers on this website are required to answer questions about ownership, treatment approaches, and various facts which no other online directory requires of their advertisers. You can also review a list of top questions to ask the admissions department before enrolling in a program HERE.

Find a young adult wilderness therapy program today!


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 Master’s in Special Education from Bank Street College (NY) and a Bachelor of Arts focused on History from Wheaton College (MA).