Wilderness Programs: Principles, possibilities and opportunities for intervention with dropout adolescents

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Wilderness Programs (WP) are specialized frameworks for group therapy in an unfamiliar environment. The participants progress through a series of increasingly difficult challenges which seem unsolvable, yet are structured in such a way that success is guaranteed. The present article will describe the principles of WP, followed by the findings of a field research which examined the effect of a WP on a group of dropout youth in Israel, comparing them to an alternative therapy program and a contrast group. The assumptions of the research were that self-esteem and locus of control in the Wilderness group would be improved in comparison to the alternative group and to the contrast group. The research findings partially supported these assumptions, pointing to a significant progress of both experimental groups compared to the contrast group. The WP group stood apart in its results, showing increased self-esteem in four out of six factors compared to the contrast group, but there was no significant change compared to the Alternative Program group. In both experimental groups a clear significant improvement was found in locus of control after the intervention, in contrast to a decrease in those who did not take part in the activities. The discussion will address the research findings and the possibilities and opportunities presented by WP.




Romi, S., & Kohan, E. (2004). Wilderness Programs: Principles, possibilities and opportunities for intervention with dropout adolescents. Child and Youth Care Forum, 33(2), 115–136. https://doi.org/10.1023/B:CCAR.0000019634.47226.ab

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