Project Title

Outdoor Behavioral Health Programs to Provide an Alternative Treatment for Addiction

Major

Recreation and Park Administration

Department

Recreation and Park Administration

Degree

Graduate

Mentor

Michelle Davis Gerken

Mentor Department

Recreation and Park Administration

Abstract

University Presentation Showcase 2015

Outdoor Behavioral Health Programs to Provide an Alternative Treatment for Addiction

Kari McConnell & Michelle Gerken, PhD*, CTRS

In recent years, outdoor behavioral healthcare (OBH) treatment programs have become a growing interest to providing an alternative treatment choice to resolve behavioral issues among troubled youth. Outdoor behavioral health is a therapeutic approach, using wilderness therapy and related outdoor treatments to address emotional, behavioral, psychological disorders, as well as issues pertaining to substance abuse. A major appeal of OBH programs when compared to residential treatment is that the wilderness challenge approach provides an alternative for resistant adolescents unwilling to commit to traditional psychological and facility based treatment.

The purpose of this research is to provide an assessment of treatment outcomes of OBH programs as an alternate treatment for traditional rehab facilities for substance abuse, as well as determine the importance of aftercare treatment following OBH program completion to ensure that positive outcomes will be maintained. Results of the study indicated that participation in OBH programs led to a significant reduction in the severity of behavioral and emotional symptoms. Analysis also shows improvement in behavioral dysfunction, interpersonal relations, improving family relations, and addressing critical issues in adolescent’s lives.

Research supports the positive influences that OBH treatment provides, including a greater awareness of self, feelings of wellbeing, a sense of connection with others and the world, a fostering of positive coping skills, and replacing addiction with positive recreational behaviors. OBH programs are projected to become a viable alternative to a traditional treatment approach for adolescents and adults alike.

Keywords: Outdoor behavioral health, Treatment, Addiction, Therapeutic Recreation

Presentation format

Poster

Poster Number

28

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Outdoor Behavioral Health Programs to Provide an Alternative Treatment for Addiction

University Presentation Showcase 2015

Outdoor Behavioral Health Programs to Provide an Alternative Treatment for Addiction

Kari McConnell & Michelle Gerken, PhD*, CTRS

In recent years, outdoor behavioral healthcare (OBH) treatment programs have become a growing interest to providing an alternative treatment choice to resolve behavioral issues among troubled youth. Outdoor behavioral health is a therapeutic approach, using wilderness therapy and related outdoor treatments to address emotional, behavioral, psychological disorders, as well as issues pertaining to substance abuse. A major appeal of OBH programs when compared to residential treatment is that the wilderness challenge approach provides an alternative for resistant adolescents unwilling to commit to traditional psychological and facility based treatment.

The purpose of this research is to provide an assessment of treatment outcomes of OBH programs as an alternate treatment for traditional rehab facilities for substance abuse, as well as determine the importance of aftercare treatment following OBH program completion to ensure that positive outcomes will be maintained. Results of the study indicated that participation in OBH programs led to a significant reduction in the severity of behavioral and emotional symptoms. Analysis also shows improvement in behavioral dysfunction, interpersonal relations, improving family relations, and addressing critical issues in adolescent’s lives.

Research supports the positive influences that OBH treatment provides, including a greater awareness of self, feelings of wellbeing, a sense of connection with others and the world, a fostering of positive coping skills, and replacing addiction with positive recreational behaviors. OBH programs are projected to become a viable alternative to a traditional treatment approach for adolescents and adults alike.

Keywords: Outdoor behavioral health, Treatment, Addiction, Therapeutic Recreation