Treating ADHD In the Wilderness-Interview With Neal Christensen

Neal Christensen

Neal Christensen, Clinical Director and an owner of Elements Wilderness in Utah, joined Lon August 6, 2018 to discuss how the wilderness is the perfect environment to help children leave behind the all too common distractions of modern teens.  This allows the staff to be much more effective in helping struggling students with ADHD, learn to improve their executive functions and better focus on the tasks at hand.  [Our thanks to Rich Simpson, owner of Pathways Abroad for providing our intro music].

Contact:   Neal Christensen:  Clinical Director and an owner of Elements Wilderness in Utah.

This is one of a series of short interviews about developments in the network of private, parent-choice schools and programs helping struggling teens and young adults. The guests are innovative leaders in this network.

Listen here for Neal’s and Lon’s Discussion.

Outward Bound(c) took the world by storm by the 1960s and thereafter.  By the 1980s the concept had evolved to using the wilderness as a therapeutic tool.  The first private wilderness therapy programs were being firmly established in the 1980s and have proliferated and evolved to the very sophisticated and effective wilderness and therapeutic healing programs of today.  Some parents and referring professionals seem to feel that the therapists do the work, and the wilderness is just a kind of backdrop to the real therapeutic work.  In reality, they are more than just therapists in the woods camping out with the kids.

For years there has been debate in the field of wilderness therapy as to which element is the most important.  The answer is: all are important:  wilderness, therapy by certified therapists, structure and much more.  One highly regarded founder of a very successful wilderness therapy program (who was both a licensed wilderness guide and a licensed Ph.D Psychologist) told me that regarding the effectiveness of his program, it is about 80% from the wilderness and meeting the challenges the wilderness throws at you, and the rest is the therapy.  I wonder how many working in wilderness therapy programs would agree, or disagree, and why.


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