“A World Without Wilderness Is a Cage”

By Trenna Ahlstrom


Eccentric activist Edward Abbey once proclaimed that, “A world without wilderness is a cage.” Abbey insisted:

We cannot have freedom without wilderness. We cannot have freedom without leagues of open space beyond the cities, where boys and girls, men and women, can live at least part of their lives under no control but that of their own desires and abilities.

Current research suggests that Abbey’s proclamation may have been prophetic. Wilderness may be necessary for your personal health. Wilderness gives your body and mind a chance to heal. Moreover, Wilderness may be an especially healing environment for troubled teens.


Because We Need Raw Adventure

The benefits of wilderness therapy may be especially significant to troubled teens. RedCliff Ascent recently hosted a comparative research study. The study compared two groups of troubled teens. One group of teens experienced Wilderness Therapy Treatment at RedCliff Ascent. The other group of teens continued with their previous treatment plan without any Wilderness Therapy.

In both groups, the parents assessed their teens’ mental health using a patented testing tool. At least one year later, parents reassessed their teens’ mental health. The results of the research showed that the teens who participated in Wilderness Therapy showed more significant improvement in their mental health than teens who continued their usual course of treatment.

Teens showed greater mental health improvement after participating in Wilderness Therapy regardless of their age, gender, or race.While this comparative study was one of the first of its kind, it is not the first research that indicates that Wilderness Therapy is especially helpful for troubled teens. An Australian study conducted in 2016 also showed positive results. That study reported, “Large, positive, statistically significant changes were evident for participants in clinical ranges for depression and behavioural and emotional functioning.” The teens who participated in Wilderness Therapy continued to demonstrate positive changes when they were re-evaluated three months later.