A letter from our Clinical Director:
Thanks for your interest in our program! I’m glad you’re looking into the substance of our therapeutic program. One thing I have seen consistently throughout my 20-plus year tenure in wilderness is that “therapy” does not simply amount to what happens when the therapist is in the field or in a formal group setting around the fire, but rather to the countless opportunities to apply the skills and tools they learn in therapy within each task before them and each interaction with one another. That’s why we designed our program to employ the core Elements of Treatment at every level, empowering our staff to uphold each lesson, and making sure we make the most of our precious little window of time with your son.
For the right young man at the right time, a wilderness program accelerates the treatment process, providing powerful intervention, assessment, stabilization, and first-phase treatment for emotional and behavioral problems. Elements is designed specifically for those who are struggling with mood dysregulation, oppositional-defiance, low self-esteem, identity and attachment issues, difficulty with family and/or peer relationships, as a result of a range of diagnoses from generalized anxiety disorder to autism spectrum disorder. Many of our boys cope with these feelings by seeking maladaptive outlets such as avoidance, computer and internet overuse and addiction, or substance abuse.
By focusing on the needs of our boys and selecting treatment modalities tailored to each individual, peer-reviewed research has proven that Elements has the power to serve each of our boys based on their needs. A core treatment curriculum gives us a foundation of quality treatment upon which to build the customized plan that each boy needs. Core approaches include milieu-based Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), the Seven Challenges approach to management of addictive patterns of behavior and substance use, and a core commitment to ongoing family systems work. Involvement of the family is so important to us that it permeates each step of the program, offers multiple opportunities to visit in person, and can involve every member of the family relevant to the treatment of your son.
It’s our intentionally small size that allows us this individualization, as individualized treatment plans require a highly coordinated approach involving team members who work seamlessly together and know each student in the program. Furthermore, we are proud to cap the number of boys in each group at 9, and we boast staffing ratios that are usually twice as many staff as required for our license. This allows us room in our relationship-driven model to give each boy the personal attention he deserves.
Please click through the following links below to learn about each facet of our therapeutic model. In the meantime, if you have any further questions, I strongly encourage you to learn more about our program by reaching out to our admissions team with any questions.
Neal Christensen, PhD LP – Clinical Director & Co-Owner