Wilderness Therapy - Controversy

Controversy

Given the proliferation of such programs, there is a concern about how these programs are run.

Some programs which advertise as "wilderness therapy" are actually boot camps in a wilderness environment. There have been incidents of alleged abuse. These can sometimes be distinguished from other wilderness therapy by such programs promising behavior modification for troubled teens, but it is hard to tell just from the ads. One of the major differences between boot camps and wilderness therapy is the underlying philosophical assumptions (wilderness therapy being driven by the philosophy of experiential education and theories of psychology and boot camps being informed by a military model). Additionally, most wilderness therapy programs have highly trained clinical staff either on the expedition or in active and ongoing consultation with the team. Boot camps may have no clinically trained staff working in the programs. Some staff members are from a correctional or military background.

As in any type of treatment program, abusive situations have been reported and accidental deaths have taken place in some of these programs, although compared with similar outdoor adventure activities deaths are extremely rare. Among the most controversial programs have been those run by Steve Cartisano. or former Cartisano associates. There also exist "wilderness therapy" boot camps located outside the U.S. to avoid U.S. regulations, many of them unlicensed fly by night outfits. Such unlicensed outfits also exist in some U.S. states where the wilderness therapy industry is poorly regulated. There is also controversy over whether parents should be allowed make their child attend a wilderness therapy program by force, as is often the case. Apart from the thousands spent on the actual program (around $500/day), some parents pay a Teen escort company thousands to ensure that their child gets to the program by any means necessary.

October 2007 the United States Government Accountability Office had a hearing. In relationship with the hearing, they have issued a report about the wilderness therapy industry.

Read more about this topic:  Wilderness Therapy

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