Research Outcome

Because Outback Therapeutic Expeditions is an outcome-informed treatment program, we participate in internal and external research studies that measure the quality and consistency of our treatment. These studies help ensure that Outback is providing the most cutting-edge techniques for a constantly changing world.


The Christensen Study

Neal Christensen, PhD, conducted a study at Outback Therapeutic Expeditions. Using the Youth Outcome Questionnaire (YOQ), he followed the emotional and behavioral state of students before, during, and after wilderness therapy treatment. Students reported on their levels of anxiety, depression, academic performance, home life, and other relevant topics.

Before Outback Therapeutic Expeditions Wilderness Therapy Treatment

Students identified a wide range of issues and needs when entering into Outback’s treatment program. The most common are listed below.

  • need for therapy
  • general sense of denial
  • hopelessness
  • lack of self-efficacy
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • low academic performance
  • strained peer and family relationships

After Outback Therapeutic Expeditions Wilderness Therapy Treatment

Across the board, troubled teens experienced significant improvement in their psychological and emotional state during the course of treatment. When using the YOQ, the mental health of an adolescent can be quantified on a point scale, with lower scores indicating more stable mental health. The average score for a healthy teen is 23, with 47 being on the high end of what is considered healthy. The typical score for Outback students ranges from 75 – 100 at admission.

Upon leaving Outback, troubled teens reported significant improvement, specifically:

  • restored sense of hope
  • belief that they had the ability to impact their own lives
  • improved personal relationships
  • reduced anxiety and depression
  • improved academic performance and engagement

Outback students expressed the belief that these changes resulted from their own motivation to participate in treatment. In follow-up evaluations with students as much as 12 months after they left Outback, these results were maintained.

Ongoing Research and Clinical Feedback

Outback therapeutic Expeditions continues to participate in research conducted by the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Council. This allows us to contribute to the therapeutic community by demonstrating the effectiveness of wilderness therapy. It also gives us continuous feedback on our clinical practices. We use this feedback to improve our program structure and ensure that we are always providing the most effective, nurturing, and state-of-the art therapeutic care while also harnessing the power of a natural setting.

Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare: Effectiveness of Wilderness Therapy

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COVID-19 Update

Outback Therapeutic Expeditions is continuing to support families through this unprecedented time. We are closely monitoring information related to COVID-19, adhering to recommendations set forth by CDC, and have implemented additional safety precautions to mitigate risks. To learn more, contact us at 800-817-1899.