Wilderness Therapy Program for Struggling Young Adults
Many young adults choose to take advantage of a gap year when they feel unprepared to enter college or the workplace to practice being more independent and learn more about their strengths and goals. Wilderness therapy programs offer a unique “gap year” experience, where young adults are exposed to many of the peak experiences and adventures they might experience during a gap year in a supportive therapeutic environment. Wilderness therapy helps struggling young adults face their fears about independence and learn new skills to help them launch into adulthood.
The guide is meant to be comprehensive, but as such, not every section will be applicable to everyone. Instead, we invite you to click on the links in the table of contents to jump to the sections that most interest you.
What are Wilderness Therapy Programs?
Wilderness therapy is a popular treatment option among young adults, who have struggled with finding motivation in other areas of their life and developing positive peer relationships. Wilderness therapy programs are rooted in the concept that nature is a powerful tool for healing. Spending more time in nature helps push young adults out of their comfort zone, carves out time for self-reflection, and uses natural “consequences” as a symbol for one’s therapeutic process. Throughout their time in nature, young adults have the chance to build important life skills and work towards achieving goals they'd never imagined they could accomplish.
One reason that wilderness programs are often recommended is that the intensity and variety of experiences they provide leads to more significant therapeutic changes in a shorter period of time. Every element of wilderness therapy is designed to be therapeutic--from time outside to team-building activities, limited technology to outdoor recreation. Therapy that occurs outside of an office environment often feels more natural to young adults, who learn better from experiences than being told what to do. As a result, there is greater buy-in to the treatment process when young adults are able to notice direct changes in their mood and behavior,
Who Does Wilderness Therapy Help?
At blueFire PulsaR, we help young adults and their families overcome challenges that limit their potential. We work with bright 18-28 year-olds to address behavioral or motivational attitudes that have contributed to experiencing failure to launch. We help young adults step out of their comfort zone, improve their self-esteem, and help our clients build their confidence through self-success.
Some of the struggles we help young adults with include:
- Failure to launch
- Dropping out of college or high school
- Motivation and confidence to pursue interests or a career
- Adoption/attachment issues
- Isolating themselves from others
- Dysregulated mood
- Mild to moderate substance use
- Video game/ Internet addiction or overuse
- Oppositional behaviors
- Executive Functioning Deficits
How Does blueFire PulsaR Help Young Adults Become More Independent?
Wilderness therapy programs, like blueFire PulsaR, are designed to help young adults take charge of their lives. We understand that young adulthood is a difficult period for navigating relationships, particularly with family members. As young adults are in a transitional period in their life, they often struggle to understand what relationships should look like. College friends may feel like “party friends” or “temporary” friends and parent relationships may no longer seem as important. We remind the young adults we work with that there is a difference between doing things alone and actually being independent.
Our focus is on teaching students life skills that will help them launch into independence, like communication, emotion regulation, and problem-solving. These skills are learned and practiced through adventure activities, community service opportunities, and group therapy. With feedback from a supportive group of peers, young adults are encouraged to reflect on and reimagine their personal goals and the steps they may need to take to work towards them. Learning these skills in a group setting helps young adults build confidence that they have valuable skills and realistic goals that are recognized by others. A wilderness therapy environment is designed to help young adults discover their full potential in life and provide guidance to young adults as they pave a successful future for themselves.
What Makes blueFire PulsaR Wilderness Therapy Unique?
Our wilderness therapy program for young adults offers a higher level of therapy than other programs but in a very hands-on applied manner. For instance, we use adventure activities as teaching tools. We have clients that have never been in wilderness environments doing things they never would have imagined they were capable of doing.
In contrast to traditional wilderness therapy programs, adventure therapy programs, like blueFire PulsaR, usually offer a base camp with more traditional therapeutic resources between outdoor activities, which go beyond hiking. Most participants in adventure therapy have limited experience with adventure activities when they first participate. As they become more engaged, not only do they gain the skills necessary to succeed in the activities, but their self-perception and self-identity change and they start to see themselves as able to succeed in other areas of their life.
In addition to individual, group, and family therapy, we also offer yoga and mindfulness, equine therapy, and community service to help young adults address the challenges that they face in a variety of environments using healthier coping mechanisms.