An assessment of outcomes in outdoor behavioral healthcare treatment

  • Russell K
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Outdoor behavioral healthcare (OBH) is an emerging treatment that utilizes wilderness therapy to help adolescents struggling with behavioral and emotional problems. The approach involves immersion in wilderness or comparable lands, group living with wilderness leaders and peers, and individual and group therapy sessions facilitated by licensed therapists in the field. OBH also offers educational and psychoeducational curriculum all designed to reveal and address problem behaviors, foster personal and social responsibility, and enhance the emotional growth of clients. The extant studies on the effectiveness of OBH and wilderness therapy reveal consistent lack of theoretical basis, methodological shortcomings and results that are difficult to replicate. This publication reports the results of an outcome assessment for adolescent clients who received treatment in seven participating OBH programs that averaged 45 days in length from May 1, 2000 to December 1, 2000. Adolescent client well-being was evaluated utilizing the Youth Outcome Questionnaire (Y-OQ) and the Self Report-Youth Outcome Questionnaire (SR Y-OQ) (Burlingame, Wells, & Lambert, 1995). Complete data sets at admission and discharge were collected for 523 client self-report and 372 parent assessments. Results indicated that at admission clients exhibited presenting symptoms similar to inpatient samples, which were on average significantly reduced at discharge. Follow-up assessments using a random sample of clients found that on average, outcomes had been maintained at 12-months posttreatment.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Adolescent treatment
  • Outcome assessment
  • Problem behaviors
  • Wilderness therapy

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  • Keith Russell

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