Articles relating to Wilderness and Adventure Therapy Learn & Discover More



TIP: Irritability can be a sign of depression because young boys are more likely to identify themselves as “angry” or “stressed” than depressed. 

Wilderness Therapy Interventions: This form of therapeutic intervention, employs the techniques and philosophies of experiential and outdoor education and combines them with the therapeutic process in an effort to promote intrinsic change. 

The diagnoses on this page are centered around issues that you may see in the wilderness therapy industry. 

Therapeutic Value of Wilderness and Adventure Programs: 

Some kids learn through experiential learning, which is the strength of outdoor adventure programs. You can tell a child that they are capable of anything but some cannot internalize or believe it due to low self-esteem/poor self-image until they actual climb the mountain or hike multiple miles. Set up opportunities that make them go a little out of their comfort zone and stretch the limits of what think is possible. If kids act out or reject the activity take into consideration that they may be communicating to you that they are scared or worried about failing. Sometimes the acting out behavior is not the problem but instead a signal of an internal issue. When they start acting out this might be an opportunity to explore their thoughts and feelings.   --- Nicole Ferraro LCSW


Sometimes it can be challenging to define where each zone is. This diagram shows that students need to be pushed out of their comfort zones but brought back in once they hit the panic zone. Learning only occurs in the learning zone.  One way to make sure you are in the learning zone is to discover where the panic zone is and take a step back.

Themes for Thought

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Why Kids Don't Talk About Their Issues Enough

Many kids feel that their parents don’t listen or are afraid that they will get in trouble and are left without anyone to talk to. This is especially true for major issues, even when they talk to their peers, kids their own age often don’t know how to advise difficult situations.  - Nicole Ferraro, LCSW

Is it Really Anger or Is Something Else Going On?

It is important to help kids start to express their feelings in order to be able to identify their triggers.

Some kids only express themselves as angry because their feelings vocabulary does not have the sophistication to express themselves in a way that accurately identifies what they are feeling. Anger can express multiple emotions including frustration, sadness, hurt, disappointment etc all of which need to be handled differently. - Nicole Ferraro LCSW

Creating Attainable Goals

Kids need help creating attainable goals and then need structure provided to them to help them reach those goals. Goals need to be very clear and when possible, work should be done to break down the goal into smaller steps so the kid can have multiple successes. For example, say a kid creates a goal to complete tasks instead of giving up. Work can be done to identify triggers that sabotage that goal such as the kid’s inability to self-sooth when frustrated or to utilize positive self talk. Smaller steps can be identifying strengths, practicing positive self-talk, starting with smaller/easier task and working up to hard tasks. At this point the job of guide is to model positive self talk and the desired behavior, encourage follow through, and praise the kid when he/she makes a positive choice.    - Nicole Ferraro, LCSW

Setting Clear Expectations

It important to for you to be as clear as possible with your expectations. For example don’t say “I expect you to keep your bunk clean,” instead say that “I expect that your bed is made and that all of your belongings are off the floor and put away.” Don’t assume that they know what you mean. Plus if kids want to manipulate the rules they will claim that they did not understand the rule. You can even set up rewards for the kids like getting the lead the hiking group or take the first shower back at camp, whatever you think is appropriate for your group.  - Nicole Ferraro, LCSW