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