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This is the second report in a two-part series focused on wilderness therapy programs. Wilderness therapy combines therapeutic elements with outdoor activities in a natural setting to help support individuals with a range of behavioral, emotional, and substance use issues.
In 2021, the Washington State Legislature directed WSIPP to research wilderness therapy programs in the context of behavioral health treatment and prevention. As part of this assignment, we were asked to assess the “interest and likelihood of support” for wilderness therapy programs among interest groups like “state prevention coalitions and tribes.” We interviewed ten individuals representing a variety of stakeholder perspectives in Washington.
Generally, we found that interview respondents view wilderness therapy as potentially beneficial for the individuals they serve or those who live in their communities. However, we found that most respondents had concerns about cost, safety, access, and the lack of information about programs. Respondents also expressed wanting legislators to be aware of issues related to program flexibility, equitable access, and ongoing outreach if they consider policy decisions related to wilderness therapy in the future.
The first report on this topic was published in June 2022 and can be found here.