girl sitting down and talking to a therapist

July 30, 2021

Wilderness Therapy vs Residential Treatment: Which is Right for Your Teen?

If you’ve been looking at therapeutic treatments for your teen, then you’ve probably come across both wilderness therapy and residential treatment options. When it comes to your teen, you’ll want to make the best decision for them and their health needs. Continue reading and learn the difference between wilderness therapy and residential treatment, and find out which choice is right for your teen.

Wilderness Therapy

What is Wilderness Therapy?

Wilderness therapy is a treatment that combines therapy with challenging experiences in an outdoor wilderness environment. Wilderness therapy is typically designed to address problem behaviors by fostering social responsibility and the emotional growth of teens. Wilderness therapy typically involves:

  • Change of Environment: The main point of wilderness therapy is to immerse patients in a natural environment. This is to evoke introspection and facilitate change.
  • Therapy: Individual or group therapy sessions. This helps individual improvements and group dynamics set up a foundation to improve interpersonal effectiveness in families and relationships.
  • Healthy Coping Strategies: Wilderness programs strive to replace negative coping behaviors with healthy coping strategies and skills.
  • Challenge Experiences: Many programs will encourage personal growth through psychological concepts, such as self-efficacy and growth mindset.
  • Healthy Relationship Development: Peer groups give patients the opportunities to practice healthy relationships.

For many wilderness therapy programs, the goals are to provide therapeutic assessment, safety and stabilization, treatment of problem behaviors, and lasting change.

Someone enjoying on the view on an edge

How Does Wilderness Therapy Work?

Wilderness therapy is often modeled to mimic the challenges and pressures that are often found within family and social structures. However, these are delivered in an environment that is intended to be secure, non-critical, and supportive.

Depending on the program, wilderness therapy programs range between 30 to 120 days. During this time, teens will receive therapy in an outdoor setting. Here, they’ll step away from the urban world of technology, social media, and demanding schedules in hopes they’ll learn healthier coping skills. In these programs, teens will often participate in:

  • Hikes
  • Camping
  • Survival Wilderness Skills
  • Therapy Sessions

Turn-About Ranch’s Outdoor Activities

While Turn-About Ranch is not a wilderness therapy program, our students do get all of the advantages that might be found in such a place. We are located in Escalante Utah and are surrounded by one of the most beautiful and unique environments. We have mountains, canyons, slot canyons, and even arches nearby! Students learn to love our desert scenery as they undergo positive character transformation both on the ranch and during our off-ranch adventures. We aim to enhance our students’ therapeutic experience by taking them out into this extraordinary setting and doing outdoor activities such as horseback riding and hiking. Keep reading to learn more about Turn-About Ranch and residential facilities in general.

Residential Treatment

What is Residential Treatment?

Residential treatment allows teens to receive 24-hour care while pursuing therapeutic treatment to confront problem behaviors. These centers are there to provide patients with safe, effective care and help them address behavioral issues. An effective residential treatment program will usually provide:

  • Comprehensive Evaluation: The program should assess emotional, behavioral, medical, and social needs of each patient.
  • Individualized Treatment Plan: A plan puts interventions in place that help patients attain goals they’re working on.
  • Therapy: Individual or group therapy sessions. This helps individual improvements and group dynamics set up a foundation to improve interpersonal effectiveness in families and relationships.
  • Family Support: Residential programs should encourage and provide opportunities for family therapy and contact through on-site visits for extra support.

The goal of residential treatment is to take teens out of their current environment and put them in a facility that is meant to be a haven for them. This gets them away from any potential triggers and they can learn more about themselves and their feelings.

How Does Residential Treatment Work?

Modern residential treatment programs are designed to accommodate people with a variety of different concerns, including trauma, substance abuse, mental health, and cognitive development. Teens that enter these treatment programs typically have to undergo assessments and screenings to indicate what level of care they need to help their long-term success. Such assessments are also used to help the treatment facility determine if the teen is a good fit for their program as they’ll want to make sure they’re able to provide the teen with the level of care they need.

Residential treatment centers provide a variety of evidence-based therapeutic modalities as part of the treatment process. Similar to wilderness therapy, teens will be able to get away from their current environment which could be adding to their stress and inhibit necessary change. Teens at residential facilities will typically participate in:

  • Individual and Group Therapy
  • Therapeutic Activities
  • Structured Physical Activity
  • Alternative Treatments

Depending on the program, residential treatment programs often last between one to six months. By offering these therapeutic opportunities, residential treatment centers offer support to people so they can work to achieve an improved quality of life and transformation.

Residential Therapy at Turn-About Ranch

At Turn-About Ranch, our goal is to help teens through therapeutic processes and help them achieve positive, lasting change. Therapy is important to overall change for both teens and their parents or guardians. Our approach to therapy includes weekly private sessions and group sessions. This helps our therapists and staff understand our students’ needs better and help with their overall change.

Which Option is Better?

At Turn-About Ranch, we believe residential therapy is the best alternative for wilderness therapy and other boot camp-esque programs. Here, we offer the best of both worlds. Students get to take advantage of the opportunities nature provides us nearby while also being able to participate in school, therapy, and our horsemanship program. Plus, our facilities include boys’ and girls’ dorms where students will be able to sleep on beds and be safe from the elements at night. Students will also be able to eat well-prepared and nutritionist-approved meals every day!

Turn-About Ranch: A World Far Away from Wilderness Therapy

We use therapy, academics, and hard work to help instill real change for the teens that come to our facility. Our acclaimed program has helped hundreds of young people with a variety of different problems. If you believe that Turn-About Ranch could help your teen, contact us and we’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.

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Turn-About Ranch

280 N 300 E.
Escalante, UT 84726
(800) 842-1165