Opinion & Essays
- Dec, 1996 Issue #43
Therapeutic Adventure Program Q & A
(The following is part of a booklet prepared by ASCENT,
The short-term Wilderness Program that is a part of the CEDU Family of Services. Written by Matt Fitzgerald, Admissions Director,
208-267-3626, it’s purpose is to help parents ask the right questions when considering a wilderness or adventure program for their
WHAT IS A THERAPEUTIC ADVENTURE PROGRAM?
Therapeutic Adventure Programs (also called “Wilderness” or “Experiential” programs) focus on treatment for children with behavioral,
emotional or social differences. The wilderness, as a backdrop for treatment, provides natural consequences and presents children
with a multitude of new challenges. WHAT LICENSE DOES YOUR FACILITY HOLD? Licensing indicates that a program complies with accepted
state rules, regulations and procedures relative to operating a treatment program. Insurance companies require that a facility or
program be licensed or they will not pay for treatment.
WILL MY CHILD GET THE ATTENTION HE/SHE NEEDS?
No one child is like another. Many children end up at Therapeutic Adventure Programs because they don’t fit in with their peers and
cannot control their behavior. These children need special attention.
DO YOU USE DEPRIVATION OR SURVIVAL TECHNIQUES?
While therapeutic models in a wilderness setting can attain some dramatic results, deprivation and survival techniques are not a productive
way to reach those results. The safety issues connected with deprivation or survival programs could very well outweigh any possible
IS THE DRINKING WATER SAFE?
Not all fresh water is safe. Giardia, a protozola bacterium found in some fresh water sources, is dangerous to humans. The bacteria
attack the intestines and cause severe pain and discomfort to the victim.
WHAT CREDENTIALS AND EXPERIENCE DO THE STAFF HAVE?
A program is only as good as its staff. It is important that staff members be prepared for the varied needs of children, as well as
the different ways of dealing with problems.
HOW MUCH INVOLVEMENT WILL I HAVE WITH MY CHILD?
The most lasting changes in behavior result when parents are involved throughout the treatment process. Although children are separated
from their family while at a Therapeutic Adventure Program, resolutions to their emotional and behavioral problems inevitably involve
the parents. It is important that the family be a participant in a child’s growth and development.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN MY CHILD HAS COMPLETED THE PROGRAM?
The end of a Therapeutic Adventure Program is a beginning for its students. It is a time for decision- making, for both the parents
and the child. They are now faced with many more options than they—or their parents—knew they had.
WHAT SHOULD I DO NEXT?
You are looking into Therapeutic Adventure Programs for a reason: your child is experiencing difficulties at home, at school or with
peers. As a responsible parent, your interest in outside help is the first step to reuniting your family. Sooner is always better
than later when it comes to getting treatment for your child. A therapeutic program can help stop the patterns of negative behavior
and can start your family back on the road to healthy relationships.