Oliver James, author of “Love Bombing – Rest Your Child’s Emotional Thermostat,” shares the powerful impact nature had on his life in an article for The Guardian.
While at a boarding school in the middle of a forest, James found solace, physically and emotionally, in the woods around him. It was a literal hiding place when bullying peers chased him, but more than that, it was a place he could find solitude and escape from the stresses of school and life.
During a camping outing over one holiday, James was required to spend 24-hours without supervision in the wilderness. It was just him and a few other adolescent boys.
Holistic benefits of wilderness therapy
Whether it is thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, taking a 10-minute walk alone along the beach or spending a summer in a wilderness therapy program, nature can have a profound effect on every individual. It improves your mental, emotional and physical health.
Oliver James refers to this as ecotherapy; the idea that exposure to nature, whether in a local park or in the depths of a forest, improves an individual’s wellbeing.
The benefits of wilderness therapy and ecotherapy abound include:
- Build independence
- Learn leadership and communication skills
- Greater awareness of others
- Increased confidence
- Find passion for new activities
- Learn hard skills: building a camp fire, cooking, etc.
But, why is it that wilderness therapy works so well?
Concentration on survival without frivolities
During wilderness therapy, teens are taken away from the luxuries they often take for granted: television, Internet, hot showers, etc. They are removed from the compliant, distracting environments that allowed them to establish bad behaviors. Like a drug addict going through detox, teens are given the time to establish new behaviors and develop personal skills that will help them to live a healthier, happier life when they return home.
Awareness of others
Just observing the natural world around them shows teens the importance each individual has for the greater good.
The natural world produces no garbage. On a macro level, everything is valued, nothing is discarded or unwanted and that defines unconditional love in action. – Michael Cohen, Project NatureConnect
Teenagers tend to want everything revolved around them. They are the center of their own universe and think others should see them in that same way. Being out in nature, accompanied by others, allows their focus to change. On a rafting trip, it isn’t about them making it through the rapids alone; it is about the entire team working together to make it through. Wilderness therapy makes teens realize the importance of every individual.
Wilderness therapy helps teenagers develop new skills that translate to every area of their life. If your son or daughter is struggling with emotional or behavioral issues, the benefits of wilderness therapy can help turn their life around. Call us today at 844-413-1999.