5 Reasons Why Nature & Wilderness Therapy Programs Are Such Powerful Therapy
The transformative and healing power of nature can be felt by anyone. For those who are recovering from substance abuse or struggle with behavioral or mental issues, wilderness therapy programs—are a treatment approach that utilizes nature at its core—can be the best option for long-term success.
The emotional connection with nature
The positive effects that nature has on emotional and physical wellbeing are relatively undisputed. Many people use nature as a way to decompress from daily life when the responsibilities of family, work and school life become too consuming. Spending time in nature decreases stress, elevates feelings of happiness, increases creativity and improves cognitive functioning. The stillness and quiet of nature can have calming and transformative effects, especially for those who suffer from behavioral problems, mental illness or substance abuse. Teens or young adults who have spent relatively little time in the wilderness can be completely transformed into mature and independent adults through the power of nature.
The benefits of wilderness therapy
Utilizing nature in a treatment program like wilderness therapy yields positive results, because it requires that individuals:
- Take control. Impulse and emotional control is developed through dealing with the circumstances that living in the wilderness brings. Individuals quickly realize what is in their control and what is out of it. At the beginning of a wilderness therapy program, participants may find controlling their emotions and impulses very difficult, but over time they learn to manage their issues. They control what they can and accept what they cannot. For instance, an individual cannot control the rain, but they can control how they choose to deal with the rain. If they are taking control of the situation they will set up a tent or tarp, creating their own shelter.
- Accept consequences. In nature, there are consequences for actions. If a person chooses not to set up a tent in the rain, they must accept the consequences and get wet. There is no one to pass on the blame or to redirect responsibility to. Nature teaches a person to accept responsibility for their own well being, resulting in more maturity and self-direction.
- Develop coping skills. Relaxation techniques and coping skills are cultivated in a natural environment. It has calming and positive effects, allowing individuals to develop relaxation and coping skills to manage life’s irregularities. Coping with setbacks in a natural setting cultivates skills that individuals can take back to their daily lives.
- Overcome challenges. Living in the wilderness is challenging to anyone, especially for a teen or young adult who is dealing with behavioral or mental problems. The ability to overcome obstacles and see tasks through to the end are skills that are essential to an individual’s ability to remain on the right path. Nature is challenging and giving up just isn’t an option, especially when consequences are immediately felt.
- Practice self-reflection. The quiet and stillness of nature allows individuals to begin the cognitive restructuring required to begin on a new healthy path. Self-reflection is easier in nature, without the distractions of everyday life to detract from the process. Wilderness therapy incorporates meditation and silent hiking as methods for cultivating this skill.
Wilderness therapy creates an environment where individuals are able to become more self-reliant and independent, contributing more productively to their own treatment. Being removed from familiar situations in a natural setting that has it’s own challenges, allows individuals learn to overcome these challenges by developing skills that they can return home with. As challenging as living in the wilderness is, it is also calming and incredibly effective at allowing a person to connect with their mind and body. Experiencing nature can be one of the most powerful healing tools for a person.
To learn more about wilderness therapy programs, and how nature can help heal, contact Rites of Passage Wilderness at (800)794-0980.