Five Benefits of Wilderness Therapy

Pacific Quest offers hope to families if traditional therapy fails their loved ones. Adolescents and young adults attend Pacific Quest for a multitude of reasons, but overall, the end goal is to improve their mental well-being. For whatever personal reasons they attend, we find that the Pacific Quest approach works for these students for a few key reasons. Our approach to helping students is centered on wilderness therapy—combining the calming effect of natural surroundings with the support of individualized therapy.

Wilderness therapy has benefitted so many of Pacific Quest’s alumni in their transition back to their everyday lives in the following ways:

1. Change of Scenery, Change in Perspective

At Pacific Quest, students have a unique opportunity to push the “pause button” and examine their lives. A new environment can help them explore what’s working and what may no longer serve them in life. The change of scenery we offer often leads to a new perspective.

We all experience what we call rites of passage at different points in our lives—where we transition almost from one person into another. Perhaps the most important transition is moving from adolescence to adulthood. Experiencing a life transition on the beautiful Island of Hawaii contributes to having constructive rites of passage for our students.

The passage to young adulthood can be a difficult time for many youths, which is why our wilderness therapy curriculum supports these types of transitions. Pacific Quest’s rites of passage can often jumpstart a positive change that otherwise might be years in the making. Our students see their gifts more clearly and how these gifts can contribute to strengthening themselves, their families and their communities. Most importantly, these experiences can bring a new perspective to our students, helping them navigate their lives outside of Pacific Quest.

2. Fewer Distractions and Less Stress

Located on the Big Island of Hawaii, our wilderness therapy site encompasses five acres of large open spaces with botanical gardens, freshwater ponds and private ocean access. We have an 8,000 sq. ft. facility comprised of bunkhouses, a commercial kitchen and recreational spaces for yoga, group sessions and gatherings.

It’s an ideal place to get away from the pressures and stress of everyday life to focus on personal growth and treatment. Check out some photos!

3. Individualized Treatment

Pacific Quest customizes treatment for each student depending on his or her needs in our wilderness therapy program. We have expertise in a variety of therapeutic methods including: behavioral therapies, somatic experiencing, addictions, family systems, neuroscience, traumatology, mind-body and expressive art therapies. All students benefit from a highly collaborative clinical environment where therapists meet weekly to staff cases, share clinical knowledge and develop effective interventions.

Therapy sessions are tailored around each student’s unique neurodevelopmental needs, and include group as well as individual sessions. The standard in the outdoor therapy field is to provide one individual and one group therapy session per week. At Pacific Quest, we take that one step further—all students receive at least two individual and two group therapy sessions per week, facilitated by masters- or doctoral-level clinicians.

4. A Holistic Approach to Health

Pacific Quest offers a clinical, yet holistic, approach to treatment. This approach goes beyond traditional wilderness therapy by teaching sustainable life skills. Students learn skills that they can take home with them. They learn that they are part of a larger world where they can have a positive influence. From harvesting their own food to participating in individual clinical therapy sessions, students are empowered to make healthy choices for themselves, their family and their community.

Students learn life lessons from their new environment. They learn about whole-person wellness in a peaceful environment that supports positive peer culture. It gives our students daily opportunities to expand their awareness and focus on their personal development.

In addition, our young adult students participate in various community service and philanthropic work designed to foster a sense of stewardship—and to reinforce a sense of belonging and confidence with how well they already fit into the communities around them.

5. Renewed Confidence

Life here is a community experience, where young adults learn and practice relevant and essential life skills. Our structured environment provides students room to achieve individual goals and make personal choices, all while being held responsible and accountable for his or her own actions.

Wilderness therapy can help young people to make better choices and live healthier, more productive lives. By getting through their own rites of passage with the positive support they need, our students often find the self-confidence they didn’t know they had—and take it with them for the rest of their lives!

Learn more about Pacific Quest’s world-renowned wilderness therapy program here.

Download our Defining Features brochure

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