Wilderness Therapy with Neurodiversity-informed treatment in Georgia and North Carolina

CLAYTON, GA, October 17, 2023 /24-7PressRelease/ — Located in Georgia and North Carolina, Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness is a leading wilderness therapy program specializing in the care of struggling teens and young adults with emotional, behavioral, and mental health challenges. Recognizing the unique needs of each student, Blue Ridge Wilderness has adopted an individualized approach to create lasting outcomes for individuals and their families.

Often overlooked, one population who finds support at Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness are teens and young adults with neurodevelopmental differences such as Autism, ADHD, OCD and other types of neurodivergence or learning challenges.

Blue Ridge Executive Director, Danielle Hava, LCSW explained, “Therapeutic care for neurodivergent youth at Blue Ridge is founded in a neurodiversity-affirming approach, with a meticulously curated curriculum which focuses on developing students’ self-esteem as well as increasing social and emotional attunement.”

Through the implementation of this curriculum, Blue Ridge Primary Therapists actively engage in ongoing training sessions with clinical, medical, logistical, administrative, and field teams. The overarching goal is to bolster the team’s relational approach and enhance their capacity to support these students at every stage of their time in the program.

Each member of the student’s treatment team at Blue Ridge pays close attention to how each individual experiences relational pressure. They respond intentionally to these cues, building social resilience which, in turn, ignites social confidence and increases the likelihood of positive engagement.

The Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness team does not perceive this treatment approach as wilderness therapy specifically designed for neurodiverse individuals, but rather as delivering neurodivergent-informed care within a wilderness environment. The approach they adopt is rooted in a clinically sophisticated model that respects each individual’s differences. This model seeks to create an atmosphere that:

– Fosters social learning
– Offers opportunities for practicing relationship management with peers and adults
– Allows students to experience authentic connections and be part of a cohesive community
– Imparts social learning
– Guides students in navigating social subtleties through both successes and challenges in their relationships.

The conventional approach to therapy often proves challenging for students to conceptualize; they may struggle to see the purpose of therapy and why it is necessary. Establishing trust and rapport must follow a different path for this population. Blue Ridge’s approach centers on the idea that each student needs to establish meaningful connections, rather than making assumptions about their level of resistance.

“Everything that occurs in the wilderness setting serves a practical purpose and outcome. This means that the underlying therapeutic purpose and outcome do not necessarily need to be articulated or comprehended by the students to be experienced,” Blue Ridge Primary Therapist, Justin Messinger, LPC shared, “Providing care in a wilderness setting proves ideal because it allows students to grasp the ‘why’ in a manner that aligns with their unique learning styles.”

The students at Blue Ridge have diverse needs, necessitating unique and individualized interventions, and teachable moments and chances for role-modeling are ever-present in the outdoor setting.The wilderness setting and single, private ownership of Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness offers ample opportunities to adjust the level and type of support for each student depending on their learning, clinical, developmental, and cognitive needs.

“When students do not feel rushed, judged, or invalidated, the pressure they often experience is alleviated, and rapport begins to develop,” said Messinger. “The depth and quality of these exchanges, once that level of comfort is attained, become richer and more beneficial for the individual, making real change possible”

Primary therapists’ combined decades of experience contribute significantly to elevating the Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness team‘s level of understanding and compassion. This heightened awareness not only helps each member of the treatment team understand the intricacies of providing neurodivergent-informed care in a wilderness setting, but also fosters a sense of belonging and community among the students, an essential element for therapeutic growth.

Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness offers clinically driven wilderness therapy programs encompassing advanced therapeutic skill, an immersive nomadic wilderness model, licensed therapy and assessment, and multiple treatment options for struggling teens ages 13-18 as well as young adults, ages 18-30 in their Emerald Arrow program. Their individualized approach, family support, and commitment to service translates to an unparalleled experience and better outcomes for youth and families. Visit Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness online to learn more and contact the Blue Ridge Admissions Team.

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