Finding the right wilderness adventure therapy program for your teen can be an overwhelming process. However, once you find and enroll your teen in the right program, many parents find their child has become less stressed, more adaptable, and better integrated in social situations as a result of the program. To find success, it is crucial to look for the following four elements of a wilderness adventure therapy program:
- Program adability
- A multidisciplinary approach
- A variety of experiences
- Emphasis on basic functioning skills
Every teen struggles with social interactions for different reasons, which makes it crucial for wilderness adventure programs adapt to each student individually. The right program will meet the student where he or she is, not the other way around. For example, some children may have social anxiety with exposure therapies, while others lack an understanding of different perspectives. Whatever the circumstance, a credible adventure therapy program will adapt to their different needs and anxieties to help them address issues, build social skills, and most importantly, experience social success.
A Multidisciplinary Approach
Because of the vast spectrum of social challenges that teens face, a multidisciplinary team is required to create a safe, outdoor model for their students. These programs will utilize a base-camp model which not only increases safety, but also allows for better hygiene practice. Credible wilderness adventure therapy programs also use clinically sophisticated models and understand the importance of in vivo therapy, or “living in the moment” learning experiences. Ultimately, you want to find a program that staffs leading professionals who are passionate and understand the importance of individualized care and research-based models that result in lifelong growth and lasting change.
A Variety of Experiences
The most credible wilderness adventure programs will create different experiences and environments for each student to get a better functional evaluation of that individual. Exposure to new environments will also help teens generalize their skill sets, which will help them find success in a variety of social settings. The more exposure these students can have to different environments, the greater chance they will be able to apply these principles to everyday life. These positive experiences press them to do other things and makes them more apt to take risks socially.
Emphasis on Basic Functioning Skills
Many teens with executive function deficits get easily overwhelmed with the basic tasks of everyday life and need extra help mastering certain skills. A credible adventure therapy program will make sure there is an emphasis on basic functioning skills including:
- Basic hygiene
- Establishing routines
- Daily structure
- Meal preparation
- Completing tasks
Executive function skills are essential for succeeding in school, completing tasks, and forming lasting relationships. For teens with executive function deficits, developing these skills is not something that comes naturally. These individuals depend on extra support at home, exposure to simplified social environments, and a variety of confidence-building activities such as wilderness adventure therapy to practice and master their social skills.
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About Vantage Point by Aspiro
Vantage Point is a specialized offshoot of Aspiro Adventure, the program that pioneered wilderness adventure therapy. Vantage Point focuses on helping students with executive function disorders, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and Nonverbal Learning Disorders, among others.
The Vantage Point programs are designed to build self-efficacy in our students through overwhelming mastery experiences – our students accomplish goals they never believed possible, which creates a belief that they are capable of changing their own lives for the better. We focus specifically on social dynamics and social skills to help our students connect with others and feel like they can be a part of the world. Experiential Learning is a tenet of our philosophy and our program. Paired with ongoing individual therapy and targeting specific areas for growth, our wilderness therapy programs are proven successful by outcome studies and are overseen by experienced Field Guides and clinical professionals