Therapeutic Alliance

One reason our clients have been able to make such substantial reductions in substance use and symptoms of anxiety and depression may be illustrated by the results of a fourth assessment.

Rather than an outcome study, it is a measurement of how they felt about their wilderness staff. At the end of their treatment time, these young people most commonly endorsed four items:

  • The group leaders care about me as a person, 4.37 average score (5 point scale; 5 is high)
  • The group leaders care about this group, 4.34
  • The group leaders are helping this group, 4.32
  • The group leaders have the skills and ability to help all of the members of this group, 4.23

It looks as though time in the beauty and peace of wilderness settings, growing physically strong and increasingly competent in outdoor living skills, is only one aspect of wilderness treatment. The other, and perhaps the one most essential to the healing process, is the strong, trusting therapeutic relationship between the kids and their staff members.


  • Russell, K.C. (2007). Summary of research in the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Research Cooperative from 1999-2006. Technical Report 2, February 2007, Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Research Cooperative, College of Education and Human Development, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN. 52 pp.


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