Why Are Teens and Young Adults Separated in a Wilderness Therapy Program?
Different stages in life require different approaches to treatment. Wilderness therapy programs
separate participants into groups of teens and young adults in order to address specific needs related to maturity and development levels.
The teen group ranges in age from 10-17, and the young adult group ranges in age from 18-30. Although treatment is personalized to an individual’s particular maturity rate, there are certain general characteristics that differentiate teens from young adults.
Teens may not yet fully recognize the immediate consequences of their actions. They are reluctant to change and do not understand the long term effects that their behavior and substance abuse
will have. They may also not perceive themselves as being responsible for their issues or for their role in their own treatment. Quick to blame parents, teens may find it difficult to accept the reasons that have landed them in wilderness therapy, and may initially fight the process more than a young adult. It may also be the first time away from home, and in addition to feeling angry and resentful for being in wilderness therapy, they may also feel frightened and anxious. Therapists helping teens adapt to the wilderness therapy setting
need to be mindful of this and may need to exhibit extra sensitivity in the situation.
On the other hand, young adults are more aware of the real life implications that behavioral and substance abuse problems can have. Many have begun college, or started to live outside the family home. Because they have more responsibilities, and have began to live independently, they are better able to recognize that the choices they are making are leading them down the wrong path. Young adults are often more welcoming of the idea of wilderness therapy and are looking for a way to change. The desire to change is a key factor to successful recovery
Young adults are also further along in their stages of addiction. Before coming to a wilderness therapy program, many have been through other treatment programs. Once someone has gone through any chemical dependency or substance abuse treatment of any kind, they acquire a knowledge base that cannot be ignored. A future choice to engage in negative activities comes with an awareness of the consequences for such choices.
Tailoring treatment approaches to maturity level is a large factor in the success of a program.
Because development and maturity rates are so individualized in teens and young adults, an effective wilderness therapy program will build treatment programs that align with a person’s mental development. For instance, one 21 year old may have already experienced college, living away from home and has a large amount of independence. Another 27 year old may still be living within the family home and have relatively little experience with making personal choices and living as an independent adult. These two individuals, although in the same group, require considerably different approaches to their treatment. Wilderness therapy focuses on individual needs while following the same basic overall structure.
Wilderness therapy programs
are an effective way to treat the behavioral, mental and substance abuse issues that both teens and young adults face. Separation into age groups, combined with treatment tailored to individual maturity levels, is highly effective in generating lasting improvements. Call Rites of Passage to learn more at (800)794-0980.