Wilderness for Healing & Self-Reflection
In the wilderness there are unwritten rules that cannot be broken and offer natural consequences when not followed. For example, if a student refuses to put on a rain jacket when it starts to rain, they will experience uncomfortable wet clothes on their body for an unknown period of time. These rules foster improved accountability and self-reflection. This is the power of wilderness therapy programs.
Removing a troubled child from the temptations of our fast-paced, plugged-in culture and placing them in a wilderness setting disrupts the cycle of negative behaviors. Wilderness therapy programs provide an excellent therapeutic environment and educational setting that encourages growth and change.
Humans crave a connection with nature, and there are numerous therapeutic and healing qualities of a natural setting which is why wilderness therapy programs are perfect setting for growth. Unfortunately, for many teens today, quality time outdoors has been replaced by technology time indoors. “An expanding body of primarily correlative scientific evidence points in a single, common-sense direction: Getting children outside can be good for their health. And getting them outside in nature may well offer special benefits.” From Richard Louv, author of “The Nature Principle: Human Restoration and the End of Nature-Deficit Disorder”.
The Healing Powers of a Natural Setting
Being in nature presents a sense of connectedness, purpose and belonging. Students spend time reflecting on past choices and exploring future possibilities in a natural setting and discover the lessons nature can teach through wilderness therapy programs.
While the wilderness provides many unexpected opportunities for learning and growth, the natural consequences of negative and positive behavior are very predictable. Rather than trying to reward or punish teens for certain behaviors, nature teaches the most powerful and life-changing lessons. Negative behaviors carry negative consequences and positive behaviors carry positive consequences, which occurs naturally in wilderness therapy programs.
Over time the students in our wilderness therapy programs begin to understand and take ownership of their actions, leading to greater long-term success. Learning is far more effective in the wilderness because as struggles are encountered, Trails’ trained staff is present around the clock to help direct the process and offer insights that students may not think of on their own. Furthermore, the shared challenge of the group offers other learning benefits of community connection, social support and the capacity to help other group members is enhanced in wilderness therapy programs. This seamlessly translates into other group settings such as the classroom or family unit.
Benefits of Exercise
Physical exercise is not just good for the body; it’s also great for the brain! The psychological benefits of physical exercise are well documented. Regular exercise can alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression, dramatically improve self-esteem, and encourage an overall positive outlook. For this reason, outdoor exercise is a daily part of the Trails Carolina wilderness therapy programs. While at Trails, students enjoy hikes, equine activities, sports, and a variety of experiential activities. Students push their physical limits while reaching new pinnacles of self-discovery and confidence.
“I’m more accepting of the road ahead of me.”
Audrey T., Student