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Wilderness Therapy


In an ideal world, sons grow up exactly the way their parents want them to. They make good grades, have a positive peer group, and become productive members of society. Unfortunately, though, reality often falls far short of the ideal. Too many times, boys become sidetracked by negative influences, forays into drugs or alcohol, or even by social and psychological disorders. What is a mother to do when she sees her son heading down the wrong path?

Parents have many options today when it comes to attempting to correct their sonsí behavior. A change of school might be first, followed by talk therapy and/or medication. Sometimes, though, all options fail parents. At that point, it might be time to consider an alternative remedy.

Wilderness therapy has been around for decades, but new programs are taking the idea to greater heights than ever before. Why is wilderness therapy a good option for a troubled son? The core idea behind wilderness therapy is that having to deal with the immediate and unrelenting consequences of nature changes someone. The process of working through challenges and triumphing over them gives troubled teens a new confidence and a new perspective. After climbing a mountain, rappelling down a cliff, or navigating a white water river, all of a sudden having to make new friends at school, interact more positively with his parents, or break bad habits does not seem so bad to the average troubled teenage boy.

Parents may be wary of wilderness therapy because it involves extended time away from home, but for some at-risk boys, the alternatives may end up being worse. For example, a teen who is on track to commit even petty crimes may find himself in a juvenile detention center. Unlike wilderness therapy programs, these centers do nothing to reorient those who end up there. Instead, the behaviors that landed a boy there will most likely find ready reinforcement from the other residents.

Wilderness therapy has a long track record of success. Where talk therapy and medication may result in temporary improvements in troubled teens, wilderness therapy aims to change a teenís perspective and to show him empirically that he has the tools to navigate through life. In this respect, wilderness therapy is entirely unique.

When choosing a wilderness therapy program, make sure you do your research. Talk to parents whose sons have gone through the program. Ascertain that the counselors and the wilderness staff have the credentials you feel are necessary. Above all, realize that these programs are founded and run by people who have a passion for helping troubled teens.

While it can be scary to see your son change before your eyes, it is important not to let the situation get out of hand. You have options, and wilderness therapy may be one you want to consider.
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Content copyright © 2013 by Laura Delgado, Ph.D.. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Laura Delgado, Ph.D.. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Laura Delgado, Ph.D. for details.

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