What is Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare?
- Also called Adventure Therapy or Wilderness Therapy. This is a treatment modality that combines ecotherapy, experiential education, and counseling to meet client treatment goals.
- Who is qualified to work as an adventure/wilderness therapist?
- Mental health practitioners (social workers, addiction counselors, marriage/family counselors, psychologists) who have received specialized training in experiential outdoor education.
- Who represents adventure/wilderness therapists?
- Who accredits outdoor behavioral healthcare programs?
- Which research journals & orgs are associated with this field?
- Where can I learn more or gain skills for this profession?
Becker, S. P. (2010). Wilderness Therapy: Ethical Considerations for Mental Health Professionals. Child & Youth Care Forum, 39(1), 47–61. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10566-009-9085-7
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Bettmann, J. E., Tucker, A., Behrens, E., & Vanderloo, M. (2017). Changes in Late Adolescents and Young Adults’ Attachment, Separation, and Mental Health During Wilderness Therapy. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 26(2), 511–522. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-016-0577-4
Bolt, K. L. (2016). Descending from the Summit: Aftercare Planning for Adolescents in Wilderness Therapy. Contemporary Family Therapy, 38(1), 62–74. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10591-016-9375-9
Bowen, D. J., Neill, J. T., & Crisp, S. J. R. (2016). Wilderness adventure therapy effects on the mental health of youth participants. Evaluation and Program Planning, 58, 49–59. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2016.05.005
Caldas, S. V., Broaddus, E. T., & Winch, P. J. (2016). Measuring conflict management, emotional self-efficacy, and problem solving confidence in an evaluation of outdoor programs for inner-city youth in Baltimore, Maryland. Evaluation and Program Planning, 57, 64–71. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2016.04.003
Chang, Y., Davidson, C., Conklin, S., & Ewert, A. (2019). The impact of short-term adventure-based outdoor programs on college students’ stress reduction. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, 19(1), 67–83. https://doi.org/10.1080/14729679.2018.1507831
Coll, PhD, K. M., Sass, EdD, M., Freeman, PhD, B. J., Thobro, MS, P., & Hauser, MSW, N. (2017). The value of therapeutic outdoor programs with adolescents in a rural residential treatment center: A pilot study. American Journal of Recreation Therapy, 12(4), 25. https://doi.org/10.5055/ajrt.2013.0055
Cordle, J., Van Puymbroeck, M., Hawkins, B., & Baldwin, PhD, E. (2016). The Effects of Utilizing High Element Ropes Courses as a Treatment Intervention on Self-Efficacy. Therapeutic Recreation Journal, 50(1). https://doi.org/10.18666/TRJ-2016-V50-I1-6439
Daniels, E., Cottingham, M., Walsh, D. W., & Pearson, D. (2017). An Evaluation of University Recreation Center Outdoor Programs for People With Disabilities: Perspectives From Professionals. Journal of Outdoor Recreation, Education, and Leadership, 9(1), 83–97. https://doi.org/10.18666/JOREL-2017-V9-I1-7451
Dobud, W. W., & Harper, N. J. (2018). Of Dodo birds and common factors: A scoping review of direct comparison trials in adventure therapy. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 31, 16–24. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctcp.2018.01.005
Dorsch, T., Richards, K. A. R., Swain, J., & Maxey, M. (2016). The Effect of an Outdoor Recreation Program on Individuals With Disabilities and their Family Members: A Case Study. Therapeutic Recreation Journal, 50(2), 155–172. https://doi.org/10.18666/TRJ-2016-V50-I2-6527
Duvall, J., & Kaplan, R. (2014). Enhancing the well-being of veterans using extended group-based nature recreation experiences. Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, 51(5), 685–696. https://doi.org/10.1682/JRRD.2013.08.0190
Ewert, A., Davidson, C., & Chang, Y. (2016). The Body Doesn’t Lie. Journal of Leisure Research, 48(4), 327–337. https://doi.org/10.18666/JLR-2016-V48-I4-6807
Fernee, C. R., Gabrielsen, L. E., Andersen, A. J. W., & Mesel, T. (2017). Unpacking the Black Box of Wilderness Therapy. Qualitative Health Research, 27(1), 114–129. https://doi.org/10.1177/1049732316655776
Fernee, C. R., Mesel, T., Andersen, A. J. W., & Gabrielsen, L. E. (2019). Therapy the Natural Way: A Realist Exploration of the Wilderness Therapy Treatment Process in Adolescent Mental Health Care in Norway. Qualitative Health Research, 29(9), 1358–1377. https://doi.org/10.1177/1049732318816301
Gabrielsen, L. E., Fernee, C. R., Aasen, G. O., & Eskedal, L. T. (2016). Why Randomized Trials Are Challenging Within Adventure Therapy Research. Journal of Experiential Education, 39(1), 5–14. https://doi.org/10.1177/1053825915607535
Gabrielsen, L. E., Harper, N. J., & Fernee, C. R. (2019). What are constructive anxiety levels in wilderness therapy? An exploratory pilot study. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 37(August), 51–57. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctcp.2019.08.007
Gillis, H. L., Speelman, E., Linville, N., Bailey, E., Kalle, A., Oglesbee, N., … Jensen, J. (2016). Meta-analysis of Treatment Outcomes Measured by the Y-OQ and Y-OQ-SR Comparing Wilderness and Non-wilderness Treatment Programs. Child & Youth Care Forum, 45(6), 851–863. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10566-016-9360-3
Harper, N. J., Mott, A. J., & Obee, P. (2019). Client perspectives on wilderness therapy as a component of adolescent residential treatment for problematic substance use and mental health issues. Children and Youth Services Review, 105(August), 104450. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2019.104450
Hawkins, B. L., Townsend, J. A., & Garst, B. A. (2016). Nature-Based Recreational Therapy for Military Service Members: A Strengths Approach. Therapeutic Recreation Journal, 50(1), 55–74. https://doi.org/10.18666/TRJ-2016-V50-I1-6793
Hoag, M. J., Massey, K. E., & Roberts, S. D. (2014). Dissecting the Wilderness Therapy Client. Journal of Experiential Education, 37(4), 382–396. https://doi.org/10.1177/1053825914540837
Jong, M. C., Lown, A., Schats, W., Otto, H. R., & Jong, M. (2019). Mapping the concept, content and outcome of wilderness therapy for childhood cancer survivors: protocol for a scoping review. BMJ Open, 9(8), e030544. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2019-030544
Lundberg, N., Taniguchi, S., McGovern, R., & Smith, S. (2016). Female veterans’ involvement in outdoor sports and recreation: A theoretical sample of recreation opportunity structures. Journal of Leisure Research, 48(5), 413–430. https://doi.org/10.18666/JLR-2016-V48-I5-6897
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Tucker, A. R. (2009). Adventure-based group therapy to promote social skills in adolescents. Social Work with Groups, 32(4), 315–329. https://doi.org/10.1080/01609510902874594
Tucker, A. R., Combs, K. M., Bettmann, J. E., Chang, T.-H., Graham, S., Hoag, M., & Tatum, C. (2018). Longitudinal Outcomes for Youth Transported to Wilderness Therapy Programs. Research on Social Work Practice, 28(4), 438–451. https://doi.org/10.1177/1049731516647486
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Tucker, A. R., Widmer, M. A., Faddis, T., Randolph, B., & Gass, M. (2016). Family Therapy in Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare: Current Practices and Future Possibilities. Contemporary Family Therapy, 38(1), 32–42. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10591-015-9370-6
Van Puymbroeck, M., Ewert, A. W., Luo, Y., & Frankel, J. (2012). The influence of the Outward Bound Veterans Program on sense of coherence. American Journal of Recreation Therapy, 11(3), 31–38. https://doi.org/10.5055/ajrt.2012.0025
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