If you are feeling stressed or otherwise struggling with your mental health, enjoying the great outdoors for a little eco-therapy can make all the difference. If you find you need something more challenging, consider wilderness therapy programs. You will be able to heal while adventuring in the great outdoors.
Spending time outside can do powerful things for your overall health. Nature walks can reduce stress and depression. Doing light exercises outside, like walking or jogging, produces the “happy feeling” endorphins in your body. Researchers in a U.K. study found that walking outdoors reduced depression in 71 percent of the study’s participants and improved their “mood, self-esteem, and motivation.” With this knowledge, many people turn to therapy programs that are based on outdoor activities like wilderness therapy or adventure therapy.
Wilderness therapy programs began in the 1970s
Since the late 1990s these programs have been further developed by therapy experts and have grown in popularity. One of the many reasons these programs have become so desirable is because they incorporate fun with therapeutic healing and healthy exercise. These therapy programs vary in length, from one-day excursions to 10 week-therapy courses. And they are designed to help a variety people including troubled teens or young adults, physical or emotional abuse victims, people struggling with substance abuse, and people with clinical diagnoses. They may also be used for family bonding sessions.
With adventure therapy, therapists and mentors engage in group and one-on-one counseling sessions with the participants, while the group is immersed in wilderness activities. Most programs offer a wide range of activities like backpacking, camping, horseback ridding, fishing, rock climbing, and canoeing. These adventures, along with regular quiet moments for reflection, journaling, and meditation, allow participants to heal different emotional troubles. In fact, enrolling in a wilderness therapy program may help heal abandonment issues, anger, depression, family strife, identity issues, and low self-esteem.
Want to learn more about wilderness therapy programs?
There are many organizations that have more information on the subject including the Journey Wilderness Therapy Program in Utah, Open Sky Wilderness in Colorado, New Vision Wilderness in Wisconsin, and Second Nature in Georgia.