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ERIC Number: EJ853352
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Mar
Pages: 4
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-1053-8259
Session IV: Current Insights into Wilderness and Adventure Therapy. Family Crisis and the Enrollment of Children in Wilderness Treatment
Harper, Nevin J.
Journal of Experiential Education, v31 n3 p447-450 Mar 2009
Wilderness camps and programs have long been identified as viable residential treatment options for troubled adolescents (Durkin, 1988). Wilderness treatment programs in the United States, regardless of reputation and service quality, have recently received increased scrutiny from government, mainly by being depicted as in pedagogical alignment with "boot camps" and unregulated "treatment" programs; essentially, punitive and cruel (Kutz & O'Connell, 2007). Parents of troubled adolescents considering residential or wilderness treatment are faced with significant decisions as to whether to send their child and, if so, to determine which program will best meet their child's needs with ethical integrity. Family involvement is recognized as a best practice in residential treatment and serves two critical functions. First, it allows families to actively engage in treatment processes, and second, it exposes families to program philosophy, practice, and the care their child is receiving. An assessment of family involvement practice in wilderness treatment was undertaken to: (a) examine the parent decision-making process of enrolling their child in wilderness treatment; (b) elicit family perceptions of their involvement in treatment processes; and (c) assess parent perspectives of the ethical and clinical treatment their child received. At least one parent of each child attended between two and four days of programming. Families had weekly contact with their child's therapist, corresponded with their child through letter writing, were encouraged to complete on-line parenting modules and to seek local counseling support in their home communities. Parental participation was mandatory at the wilderness treatment programs in this study and additional family members were encouraged to participate. Approximately half the children in this study were enrolled involuntarily and treatment length averaged 38 days.
Association for Experiential Education. 3775 Iris Avenue Suite 4, Boulder, CO 80301. Tel: 866-522-8337; Fax: 303-440-9581; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A