I discovered this incredible work by chance while searching through a listing of outdoor jobs on an online database in the summer of 2011. As a recent college graduate, I was neck deep in the angst of entering the job force. I had never heard of Wilderness Therapy before, and honestly, I remember feeling unsure if I wanted to do it or not. I pictured a boot camp where students just cried all day and yelled at each other as field instructors ran around saying things like, “take accountability for your actions!” or, “let the tears flow!” Nonetheless, something about it captivated my imagination. So I applied for a job as a Field Instructor and read every book about it I could get my hands on. As I read Shouting At The Sky, a book describing a writer’s personal wilderness therapy experience, I started to understand that this wasn’t like anything else I had ever heard of; it sounded compassionate, powerful, raw, even sacred.continue reading
Wilderness Therapy P
The Brilliance of a Circle and Nature: Working with Group Dynamics in the Wilderness
A group of people sitting in a circle in the wilderness is an image we can all imagine, have seen, and/or been a part of. It's a powerful image. Why is this such a powerful image? It is something that has been going on for centuries. There is inherent wisdom, not only in the act of sitting in a circle and being a part of a group but also in what the magical element of the wilderness provides to this already rich experience.
How many times have we seen someone we love refuse to do something without ever trying? In our hearts, we know that if they would just give it a try, there is a good chance that they would succeed. We may think, “They lack self-esteem or self-worth”' this is partially correct, but it is missing the most important part of the equation: Self Efficacy. Self-efficacy is one’s belief in the ability to accomplish a particular task. Self-efficacy differs from self-esteem, which is the respect one has for oneself; this is an important distinction when dealing with adolescents. For the pre-teen and teen population, the general confidence adolescents have in their ability to accomplish a task correlates directly to whether they are successful in that task or not. At Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness we find it particularly true while working with individuals suffering from substance use problems.
Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness utilizes a therapeutic wilderness model: primitive living, ceremony, metaphor, and affinity for the beauty and spirituality of nature. This model lends itself well to natural and logical consequences rather than contrived, verbal, didactic therapy models. Adolescents in our program are removed from their comfort zone and immersed in a new culture, where therapists and field staff provide a small universe of lessons mirroring the larger universe in which they live.continue reading