Wilderness Therapy

Wilderness therapy, sometimes known as outdoor behavioral healthcare, is an experiential, adventure-based therapeutic treatment style that takes place in a wilderness setting. Wilderness therapy is typically targeted at adolescents and young adults and uses expeditions into the wilderness as a way to address behavioral issues or mental health problems. Wilderness therapy is used in both individual and group settings and its primary goal is usually behavior modification and/or self-improvement. Participants develop communication skills, self-confidence, learn how to work in groups and how to rely on their own knowledge and strengths. Think this approach might be right for you (or a young person in your care)? Reach out to one of TherapyDen’s wilderness therapy experts today.

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Meet the specialists

Prior to earning my masters in social work, I worked as a field guide in a wilderness therapy program. I am aligned with and familiar with aspects of the wilderness therapy model and currently work with several clients who have attended wilderness therapy programs in the past. I stay connected and up to date on research and professional development opportunities within the field of wilderness and adventure therapy.

— Julia Stifler, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in North Bennington, VT

Nature is a great mirror for humans, since we too are nature. It is spiritual by nature and teaches us how to live abundantly and in alignment with ourselves. Nature doesn't need humans to survive but we most definitely need nature. Everything is alive and well in nature so we have a lot to gain from being in relationship with all the elements of nature. If life feels out of balance nature can help you restore the love that felt lost.

— Robert Watterson, Licensed Professional Counselor Candidate in Black Hawk, CO

As a clinician, I offer walk-and-talk therapy in natural settings to clients who express interest in alternative therapeutic modalities. I have often found that clients are able to open up in new and insightful ways when we are walking side-by-side, and I believe that nature holds such power to heal. I only offer these services to folks living in Santa Cruz County.

— Sienna Forest, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist

Retreats are my favorite unique delivery system for therapy. It's intensive, accelerated, focused on providing all the safe and soft places for a person to dig their deepest to connect with their inner most wounded inner child and hurt places. When you include unplugging, solitude, forest bathing, mother nature supported, gentleness of all that is natural and organic - including delicious nurturing food prepared for you with love and a hot tub under the stars for starters.

— Diane Adams, Clinical Social Worker in Alberton, MT

After working for years out west in wilderness therapy contexts, I bring components of the wilderness into session with us. Making distinctions between what we have control over and what we are eternally powerless over is one component of this model. I believe risk-taking is inherent in this adventure we call life, but exploration can feel scary or confusing when taking risks without the trust, humility, curiosity, and safety needed to strike off. Expand space in your life for more adventure.

— Greg Tissi, Therapist in Saint Louis, MO

Work in nature enables us to use metaphor and experiencing to heal and more deeply understand ourselves. Its benefits are innumerable. I offer counseling combined with time in nature to provide you with increased benefit. We will collaboratively design a treatment plan that brings more nature into your life in ways that work for you. This can be accomplished through walk and talk therapy in the forest, sitting in a peaceful setting by the pond, or in almost any way we can imagine!

— Sabrina Merz, Counselor in Boulder, CO

Research is now piling up supporting what those of us who have loved the outdoors for centuries already knew: that time in nature helps calm and regulate our nervous system. I incorporate simple nature-based exercises and wilderness therapy into my work with clients in a way that supports nervous system regulation, calms stress hormones, and boosts focus/concentration and mood. This looks differently for each client, but could be as simple as holding a session outdoors or going for a walk.

— Becky Howie, Licensed Professional Counselor in Boulder, CO

I have training in the facilitation of deep imagery from the Animas Valley Institute.

— Emily Fisken, Counselor in Eugene, OR