The Miracle of Wilderness Therapy – II (The Evolution of the Field of Wilderness Therapy)
On today’s Parent Choices for Struggling Teens , Lon asked his guest, Dr. William White what led him to write his dissertation on the evolution of Wilderness Therapy. Knowing in his 40’s that he wanted to pursue a doctorate in leadership; Will soon discovered that wilderness therapy is chocked full of “story tellers and their stories”, with the origins of wilderness therapy dating back to the late 1800’s.
Starting with a variety of “summer only camps”, boys were taught the concept of responsibility, one of which was on a small island called Church Island and the first therapeutic camp- Camp Ramapo in NY, which is still in existence. In the early 1900’s, Boy Scouting camps began, helping young boys needing direction with a focus on learning to work together with “tribe mates”. Salesmanship Club camps, in 1946, believed in the “great outdoors” and worked with boys year round, rather than just the summer. In 1966, mountaineering expeditions and survival skills were introduced, with the focus on self sufficiency and being in service by helping others.
Outward Bound grew from this period and in the 1990’s, the return of clinicians into wilderness therapy emerged. Larry Wells deemed “the Johnny Appleseed of the field” by Will, started numerous programs and was a key consultant to many of the programs getting started.
In looking at the future of wilderness therapy, Will predicts we will be seeing more integrated models, with programs creating specific niches, rather than the one size fits all programs. Also, he sees more programs focusing on the research and really taking a look at the outcome studies for future improvements.
To listen to the full interview go to: The Miracle of Wilderness Therapy – II on LATalkRadio at
Lon Woodbury is the owner/founder of Woodbury Reports Inc. and www.strugglingteens.com. He has worked with families and struggling teens since 1984 and is the host of Parent Choices for Struggling Teens on LATalkRadio Mondays at 12:00pm, Pacific Time, Channel One.
Dr. William White is the co-founder and Clinical Supervisor of Summit Achievement, a licensed adolescent residential treatment program in operation since 1996. Dr. White’s doctoral dissertation traced the evolution of wilderness therapy through critical leaders and incidents. He also recently published a chapter on the history of the field in the book: Adventure Therapy-Therapy, Practice and Research, by Gass, Gillis and Russell.
This segment of Parent Choices for Struggling Teens was sponsored by Spring Ridge Academy, www.springridgeacademy.com, a therapeutic boarding school for girls, ages 13-17, located in Arizona.
Woodbury Reports was founded in November 1989, by Lon Woodbury, MA, IECA, CEP, as an Independent Educational Consulting firm to help parents of teens making poor decisions select a private, parent choice program that would help return the family to normalcy. Through interviews with parents, communication with professionals who know your child well, and then thoroughly researching viable options, we can help parents make the right choices that will help your child get back on the right path. For more information about Woodbury Reports Inc., call 208-267-5550, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the web site www.strugglingteens.com.
Lon Woodbury MA, CEP, IECA
Independent Educational Consultant
7119 2nd St;
PO Box 1107
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
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