Wilderness Programs

Nature is one of our greatest teachers.

Wilderness Programs

Catherine Freer Wilderness Therapy Programs

We are committed to providing the highest quality and most therapeutically rich adolescent treatment programs available. Each year we help more than 300 families, not unlike your own, to find a solution for their child. We offer three different programs to meet family’s needs. Each program is carefully designed and individually structured to provide fertile ground for positive lasting change for your child.

Wilderness Therapy Expedition – Here your child participates in a backpacking expedition that combines the benefits of outdoor living, physical activity, and extensive psychotherapy. A therapist resides with your child throughout the expedition. This creates an unmatched therapeutic relationship resulting in remarkable outcomes for children. This is our fundamental program that provides a life-changing experience that helps your child create a solid foundation upon which they can create a healthy future. The average length of stay is seven weeks.

Santiam Crossing School – At our outdoor therapeutic school, your child can resume academic study and continue their therapeutic growth in a positive peer culture consisting of students who have shared similar experiences, knowledge, and insight from participating in a therapeutic wilderness program. The average length of stay is six to twelve months.

Oregon Transition Homes – This program is ideal for adolescents who do not require the intensity of a residential treatment program, but who would not likely make appropriate behavior changes if they returned immediately home. Children live in a private home with a highly qualified and trained family. Adolescents benefit from living in a nurturing home environment, where they take part in family activities and there are clear and consistent rules and expectations.

Odyssey NW

At the core of our wilderness therapy programs is the Odyssey clinical model, which combines cognitive behavioral therapy, family systems therapy and experiential education. On the individual level, how we think, how we feel and how we act all work together to form a dynamic system of behavior. Over the course of a wilderness therapy program, shifting one belief or one thought can change the entire system and ultimately create new choices and behaviors in our students.

On the family level, we take a systems approach to working with our wilderness therapy clients. Depending on circumstances, a therapist may point out to the family a set of interaction patterns they might not have noticed or suggest different ways of responding to other family members or situations. These changes in the way of responding can then trigger positive repercussions in the whole system, leading to a more stable and productive systemic family state.

Odyssey Northwest is an expeditionary program that blends the unique aspects of coastal hiking and longboat sailing in the beautiful environments of the Olympic National Park and the San Juan Islands of Washington State. The Odyssey program is structured through clear, progressive phases that focus on motivation, skill building, and strengthening commitment for change. Each phase encompasses a curriculum designed to facilitate group process activities, academic classes, course structure and to accomplish the mission of the Odyssey program.

Second Nature Wilderness Programs

Utilizing the backdrop of wilderness living and metaphor, your Second Nature therapist will guide you and your child through our safe and effective program. Each phase of growth is marked by overarching themes. Students receive a comprehensive packet with an explanation of the symbols of Earth, Fire, Water, and Air and how they relate to emotional, social, intellectual, and spiritual growth. Augmented by individual treatment planning specific to your child and his/her circumstances, your child will participate in reading/writing assignments, daily group sessions, and in-the-moment wilderness therapy.

Earth Phase: Orientation and Compliance. The first few days in the field are an observation phase for the child. Earth Phase, your child is in communication with staff and his/her peer mentor but remains separate from the group as a whole.

Fire Phase: Engagement and Accountability. The Fire Phase Ceremony introduces your child into the group. Led by your child’s mentor, this ceremony consists of one student using the metaphor of the primitive bow drill fire to teach about change, transformation, work, and personal responsibility. During the Fire Phase, the focus becomes accountability.

Water Phase: Insight and Integration. At this stage, staff and other Water Phase students create an individualized ceremony emphasizing the power of water to shape and change the earth, paralleling how insight and integration will create lasting change in the student.

Air Phase: Internalization and Leadership. In exceptional circumstances, a child may earn Air Phase. Air Phase is awarded to students who demonstrate an exceptional ability to experiment with greater autonomy and choice.