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Wilderness Therapy: The Facts and Misconceptions About It

Wilderness therapy is a new field of psychotherapy and a type of cognitive behavior renewal program that uses the outdoors to inspire personal growth and positive change, and the building of a person’s self-esteem. The methods of wilderness therapy are as varied as the practitioners themselves, but they all have this common threat that nature has the power to effect change and balance in ways which can be descriptive to those who are struggling with the challenges of life.

The traditional approach of counseling is revised to be more applicable in an outdoor ambiance, whether it is doing horticultural tasks or exploring the wilderness either on foot or through horseback riding.

The individual is given the chance to interconnect with the world beyond and other individuals, and this interconnectedness is reinforced in such settings while simultaneously encouraging self-reflection in the absence of disturbances of present day living like cell phones, television, etc. As such, wilderness therapy has become an invaluable approach of therapy together with the usual therapies for addiction, anxiety, depression, and other behavioral obsessions.
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On the other hand, a good number of wilderness therapy programs are more geared toward young adults and teenagers who seem unable to face up to the demands of growing up. Peer pressure, family issues, drugs, the need to outdo others in school, and many other issues can be too much for a young adult to adult who is already anxious of the changes that naturally comes with growing up itself.
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Wilderness treatment clinics and boot camps are not one and the same; boot camps are a means of intervention that families seek out to try to recover control over their young child or teenager who is behaving wildly.

The style of behavior modification, which is typically used in boot camps, are a lot more hostile and are patterned after the rigid discipline in training camps for military recruits. Some are administered by the government in an effort to rehabilitate criminals and keep them from returning to their past choices in life which is originally why they disobeyed the law. A private boot camp that focuses on helping young adults observe a model similar to that of a boot camp and in an environment of strictly imposed discipline as well, which is very different from the more receptive approach of wilderness therapy centers.

The similarities of wilderness therapy and boot camps are superficial, contrary to what some people believe. A boot camp may also be located in a rocky environment, but it its approach in encouraging self esteem as well as self-discipline seems to be one and the same.

Wilderness therapy, on the other hand, typically uses a more personalized or individualistic approach, instructing people to change how they think of challenging situations in order to encourage them to make positive decisions.