Throughout most of Summit’s history we have required that all students enroll willingly, or at least reluctantly. This has meant that they arrive with their parents and are willing to get out of the car and participate in the enrollment process, despite maybe not being thrilled about the prospect of 6-8 weeks in a wilderness therapy program. This position of ours regarding transported students is in stark contrast to the rest of the field of wilderness therapy that routinely takes kids by professional transport. We are now changing our position and will accept certain students (see below) through assisted enrollment.
Most wilderness therapy programs have many of their students enroll via youth transportation services. What this looks like is skilled professionals who will show up at the student’s home, usually early in the morning, and take them, either willingly or unwillingly, to begin treatment. The reputable transport companies are skilled at minimizing the potential traumatic effects of this process, and this service helps families that feel their child will benefit greatly from a wilderness program but cannot get them to agree to get on a plane or in the car.
In turning to the research that exists, outcomes of students enrolling in wilderness programs resistant to treatment has been studied, and the results caused us as a program to reconsider our stance(OBH Research Findings: Engaging Resistant Clients | Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Council). Over the last few years we have allowed a few students to enroll by transport when they meet the following specific criteria:
- Their primary treatment issue is depression and/or anxiety
- They are only oppositional and defiant in the home
- They have a track record of being compliant and respectful outside of the home
In these instances, we have allowed students to come via transport, and in tracking outcomes of these enrollments we have realized that they often are very favorable. Thus, we have decided as an organization that we will allow students that meet the above criteria to arrive at Summit Achievement by a professional transportation service.