The Shock of Simplification – and Why Wilderness Therapy Works.

Wilderness therapy puts all participants on equal ground. Upon arriving at the program, all unessential material items are relinquished by participants and everyone is given the same set of clothing and gear. In this way, participants are like a blank canvas enabling them to get to the root of the issues that have brought them to wilderness therapy.

Participants have the freedom to be themselves.

Items such as jewellery, clothing, snacks, iPods, phones, etc., are all given up when participants arrive at the program. They are no longer able to identify themselves with a specific group through their image. Self-expression has to come from within. The process of simplifying oneself can be a shock to some and the basic gear and food provided can be difficult to accept at first, but they soon learn that it is all they need. Through critical self-reflection and guidance from wilderness therapy staff, a change in priorities begins to emerge and over the course of the program the initial attachment that they felt to their material possessions disappears.

Boundaries are removed.

With every participant being issued the same set of basic gear, food rations and clothing, no one is “above” or “below” any one else. It is no longer about what group one identified with before coming into the wilderness therapy program. Rather it is about these individuals who have to get through this particular experience together. Relationships are formed between people who may not have associated with one another back home due to belonging to different social groups or, simply, because of what they wore. As a result, self- reflections are shared more openly and honestly, allowing the healing process to take place.

What is important becomes re-prioritized.

The wilderness therapy experience sheds light on what really matters to a person. Upon returning home, participants no longer feel the same attachment to material possessions or belonging to a certain group that they once did. What they take away from the program is the ability to develop meaningful, positive relationships with peers and family and the ability to be confident and self-reliant. 

Call Rites of Passage Wilderness at (800)794-0980 to learn more about wilderness therapy, and how it can help to simplify your life.