Outdoor or Wilderness Programs

These short term programs with an average length of stay of 8 weeks are designed to provide a diagnostic assessment that looks both at problem areas and the strengths of the student. While assessment by out-patient mental health providers or in in-patient settings focuses largely on what the client is able to verbalize, outdoor programs offer a range of expressive opportunities that can be important for understanding where the student is stuck. By providing activities that allow skill building while investigating problems, as well as on-site help in developing new ways of responding to challenges, these programs can, in a short period of time, furnish a picture of how to best motivate and challenge students. This picture is valuable for informing decisions about further schooling and treatment. Due to the short length of stay, wilderness programs rarely provide a solution to the problem, but can shorten the overall length of treatment with specific recommendations for what will be helpful in the future for each student.

Program models differ, as do the range of activities and the style of therapy used. The student taking responsibility for his/her self and actions is uniformly a goal, tailored for the age and developmental stage of the student. Programs vary in terms of accessibility of psychopharmacology and ability to care for students with health and medical challenges.