Wilderness Therapy: The Self Concept Model

Any life is left empty without good memories. Our past successes stay with us as well as our happiest times. Sadness clings to our minds, trapping us with emotional unpredictability and uncertainty. However, the good news is that life goes on, and we can always reshape our existence and state of mind by shifting the balance of our memories from negative to positive.

Our memories in many ways are our strength, and while we have little control of our experiences while we are young, our adolescent lives present many unique and interesting opportunities. Therefore, the question becomes: what do I like to do, and how does it make me feel? This seems simple, but being thrilled about an experience is about as unpredictable as our own minds. The two go hand in hand. Our state of mind to an extent dictates how much we will enjoy something.

The purpose of a wilderness therapy program is to separate youth from negative influences and place them in environments that are safe and support growth. Students are not merely thrown into the wilderness and made to suffer hardships. They are encouraged, challenged, and given every opportunity to succeed in activities that are necessary, natural, and reasonable. Adolescents form bonds with each other, field staff, and therapists while they endure adversity in the process of overcoming natural challenges.

I have developed a model that is particularly useful in the development and implementation of wilderness therapy programs. It is called the self concept model. The premise for the model is that activities can be used to improve a person’s view of themselves. This in turn leads to the person building self confidence and becoming happier with themselves and their lives. The self concept model rests on three variables: personality, character, and self confidence. All three

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