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Overlooking a lake between mountains

Traditional substance use treatment measures can be very effective for a wide range of individuals. Drug or alcohol use counseling, medication-assisted treatment and outpatient modalities, among other treatment techniques, can help restore control and self-confidence while you distance yourself from self-destructive practices.

Sometimes, a change of scenery is just what you need to make those changes into permanent life habits. That’s where wilderness therapy can be incredibly useful: adventure-based treatment that prioritizes self-improvement, outdoor education and healthy coping mechanisms helps you build a strong foundation for recovery. Education, therapy and individual and group assessments all take place in secure, productive outdoor wilderness settings.

Dispelling the myths

Outdated perceptions of wilderness therapy continue to affect how individuals see and receive this treatment method. There was perhaps a time when wilderness therapy earned a faulty reputation as more of a “boot camp” and less of a verified treatment modality, ideal for self-improvement and professional evaluation.

Today, far removed from unsafe wilderness programs of decades prior, wilderness therapy can offer higher safety rates than one’s own home, especially for higher-risk individuals. In fact, several states even passed specific legislation establishing guidelines and safety protocols to ensure that wilderness therapy programs abided by safe regulation.

Benefits from day one

Wilderness therapy offers a number of benefits to even first-time participants. Among the benefits of wilderness therapy are the following:

  • Improved mental and behavioral health
  • The development of productive coping skills and strategies
  • Fresh perspectives in new environments
  • Licensed, professional staff monitoring treatment
  • Group activities that promote cooperation and unity

Why is wilderness therapy effective?

Wilderness therapy has been shown to effectively help decrease anxiety, depression and stress. Hiking through nature, even for casual hikers, helps to break negative thought cycles and introduce the brain to new thoughts, feelings and input. In short, wilderness therapy can actually help participants remain more open to the concepts of therapy and treatment in general.

Wilderness therapy also helps to foster strong relationships between participants and caregivers – therapists, counselors, psychiatrists and staff members supervising the therapy. These relationships can pay positive dividends when it comes to more direct therapy applications. It’s a relationship founded by outdoor adventure that feels a lot less like therapy, and a lot more like organic communication. Well removed from traditional counseling settings, or even a teletherapy program, wilderness therapy offers clients a place where they can let their guard down and embrace their own strengths and weaknesses.

Assessment and intervention through wilderness therapy

One of the benefits to wilderness therapy is the fact that the novel setting allows for more informal treatment to take place, where progress can be made at a much greater rate. To identify, facilitate and encourage progress among clients, onsite therapists and psychiatrists make a habit of completing thorough assessments of all participants. This is the stage at which counselors take the time to process not only the mental and behavioral health struggles of participants. This is also the time when root struggles are identified, so that treatment modalities can be prescribed to actually help foster lasting growth.

Once comprehensive assessments are completed, intervention can begin. Staff and clients will together discuss a number of items, within the comfort of the wilderness environment. These topics include mitigating destructive behavior patterns that have proven difficult to handle, as well as specific intervention plans that can help all participants distance themselves from self-destructive behaviors.

Integration of wilderness therapy into sober living


Wilderness therapy works especially well when deployed in tandem with strong sober living practices. At Real Recovery, we offer state-of-the-art sober living environments set in awe-inspiring Asheville, North Carolina, where you’re invited to join other individuals with similar goals as we together pursue recovery and freedom from substance use habits. We offer extended care facilities for both men and women; structured, supportive environments help you take safe steps toward a future where you can control your biggest challenges. Call 1 (855) 363-7325, or reach out to Real Recovery today, to put wilderness recovery to work in your life today.