Episode 270 - Dr. Will White: Into the Wild: Adventure-Based Therapy

Monday, September 09, 2019, 8:08:46 AM

Image of Will White, DA, LCSW, LADC

In this episode, our guest Dr. Will White highlights his career combining his background as a social worker and his passion for experiential, specifically outdoor, therapy. He describes what adventure-based therapy is and the evolution of the model to its current-day expression. Dr. White discusses the empirical support for the approach, why it’s therapeutic, and the rationale for utilizing this innovative modality.

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Average Rating: 4.5 stars (8 listener reviews )

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Average Rating: 5stars  wilderness therapy, Monday, February 15, 2021

By Brianna :

Wilderness therapy and therapeutic climbing are both areas of social work that I have great interest. I really enjoyed listening to this podcast with Dr. White and learning more. I am a firm believer in movement and a holistic approach to therapy and social work which aligns with the wilderness therapy approach. I was surprised to learn that state funding for wilderness therapy used to exist and hope state insurance reimbursement can again be implemented in the future as the research becomes more widely available, known and respected. I applaud Dr. White for speaking not only about the benefits of wilderness therapy as evidenced by research but the barriers to access as well. Being a part of the local climbing community and a great lover of the outdoors for my entire life I recognize my white privilege and economic stability in affording to participate in outdoor leisure activities as Dr. White also alluded to. I highly recommend giving this podcast a listen.

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Average Rating: 5stars  adventure-based therapy just makes sense!, Saturday, February 13, 2021

By Sara F :

Dr. White gave an interesting review of wilderness based therapy, its origins, and its benefits. I enjoyed hearing how he came across this line of work and how he was able to incorporate his love of nature into his social work career. This was especially interesting for me personally because I have a love for nature, camping, and being outdoors. Before listening to this podcast I had no idea anything like this existed. This podcast has seriously opened my eyes and has given me insight into a path of social work I would love to explore myself. After listening to this podcast, I realize how being in nature and having an immersive experience can be such a beneficial way to practice mindfulness. Not only is mindfulness being practiced, but this kind of therapy challenges clients to use problem solving skills, teamwork, and can enhance quality of life in general. Dr. White touched on how some clients may not have the resources or access to safe outdoor spaces. This kind of therapy can be so important because many clients may not otherwise be able to exercise mindfulness or feel the therapeutic qualities of being outdoors. I am intrigued by this model because it is so simple and just makes sense! I have felt the therapeutic qualities of being in nature myself. Having structured programs to let clients experience the benefits of being in nature seems like such a wholesome way to access therapy.

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Average Rating: 4stars  social work and the undeniable healing properties of nature , Monday, February 08, 2021

By Margot H. :

Dr. Will White describes his involvement in nature as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, specifically as an adventure-based therapist. He briefly recounts the history of Wilderness Therapy, a branch of the mental health field that has been around for quite a while. He explains the field of Adventure Therapy, initially comparing to summer camp. Summer Camp really was the first form of adventure therapy, we are able to realize from this interview, as it allows children to get outside, unplug, think in different ways, work in groups, and interact with the natural world—all helpful skills that one can positively benefit from. This led to specific psychiatric summer camps, which later evolved into expedition-based therapy programs rooted in the primitive skills model. This is what Dr. White’s residential outdoor therapy program, Summit Achievement, looks like, with expeditions on the weekends led by wilderness guides and therapists, and school during the week. Individual counseling, group counseling, and family counseling sessions are available to all residents.
I really love the idea of adventure therapy, it is something that I am eager to learn more about and maybe one day be involved in myself. I was so excited to hear that social workers have been involved with this specific therapeutic concept since the beginning. The healing properties of nature are undeniable, and I believe it is so important to find ways to spend time in nature, both with others and alone, to build that connection between the intrinsic self and the natural world. I am really passionate about ecotherapy and nature accessibility, particularly the intersection of privilege and nature, and how certain groups of people do not have the opportunities to benefit from the natural world as much as others. I am looking forward to learning more about how to involve nature in my future practice, and how I can shorten the gap between nature and people.

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Average Rating: 5stars  wonderful podcast, Thursday, February 04, 2021

By Gabrielle Pitzler :

Dr. Will White was extremely informative about the history and evolution of Adventure-based Therapy. He explored his own path to the career through Social Work and his love of outdoors and nature. It brings you a better understanding of the need for nature in therapy and the ways in which our urban culture would greatly benefit from these natural tools. He speaks about how social workers were trailblazers (pun intended) in this field and how we have a rich history in this therapeutic modality. I highly suggest giving it a listen for a couple real life examples of the mysterious way’s nature can heal people, and especially children.

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Average Rating: 5stars  awesome podcast, Monday, February 17, 2020

By cpinter :

Dr. White discusses adventure-based therapy. This is the use of the wilderness by mental health professionals to engage clients on all levels: behavioral, cognitive and affective. I had never heard of this type of therapy so this topic caught my eye and was very interesting. Using the outdoors to help clients is not as traditional but has roots in boy scouts and camps and has shown great success. Dr. White talked about how beneficial it is for adolescents to be challenged to live and work together and learn outdoor skills. There is such a healing nature to the wilderness and being outside unplugged, that is so underrated. Being an environmentalist, I can definitely vouch for how therapeutic nature can be.

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Average Rating: 4stars  adventure based therapy , Sunday, February 16, 2020

By Megan K :

I love the mind and body component to adventure therapy! There is something special about being outside, the fresh air and the beauty. As Dr. White was mentioning, one on one talk therapy can prove to be challenging in the confines of an office room , especially for adolescents. I love the idea of moving about to take some of the pressure off the traditional talk therapy experience. I found it very informative and interesting when Dr. White was talking about starting programs and what that would look like in different states. It was also interesting to hear how Dr. White navigated government policies and societal ideas of how to appropriately provide therapeutic programs, or lack of, for clients. I love the acknowledgement of how safe outdoor space is a privilege. For many people going outside is unsafe in their communities and parks or forests are not accessible. Adventure Based Therapy sounds like an awesome way to practice!

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Average Rating: 4stars  furthering adventure therapy , Friday, February 07, 2020

By Briona :

I really enjoyed this podcast because I enjoy being in the outdoors, and I find a great amount of stress-relief when I am able to exercise outside. I had no idea that summer camps for kids would be used as early forms of adventure therapy, let along dating back to the 1800's. I found a lot of interest in nature based literature such as Into the Wilderness, where the main character takes a journey into Alaska to get away from the world for some time. I think that is a great example of how unplugging from the world, literally and figuratively can have a great benefit to our mental wellbeing. I would consider myself an activist for public health, where food can greatly affect people and society, especially those in a food desert, but the same idea is true for those who are living in areas that lack green space and areas to get outside away from people and into nature. The podcast mentioned there used to be funding state wide, to get inner city children into camps but much of that as disappeared. I find the idea of its military roots very fascinating, and exercise levels can be adjusted to the groups out in the therapy. I have a great love for mountains and being out on the west coast, where much of these programs have roots in, such as Idaho, Utah, and Washington . My curiosity would lie in what do these programs do in winter months, or rainy areas such as Washington State? I enjoy the joke that Dr. White had said about the weather is always good, but the clothes are not always, but there has to be limits when going outside. In winter months there tends to be a lot of seasonal depression too. This might also be a good indication that being able to be outside leads to lower levels of depressing moods.

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Average Rating: 4stars  episode 270 review, Monday, February 03, 2020

By Travis R. :

I found this podcast so informative and quite interesting. I had never heard of adventure therapy and only thought of the social work environment as a comfy office space. I didn't think adventure therapy had been around very long, but I was surprised to hear about its deep routes to the 3 elders. I find the idea of psychiatric summer camps for kids within the mental health system to be brilliant and I was surprised to hear that Mass. General Hospital. had forgotten they ever had one. I really found it fascinating how involved the treatment program is at Summit Achievement, I truly believe that the adolescents are still getting their proper education while experiencing a sense of community and achievement. It was extremely upsetting to read about how the great recession removed funding for most if not all of these programs and how judges started sending them to private juvenile institutions. I really like Dr. White's passion and drive to break down barriers with race and poverty and it was great to hear people of all genders joining the program as well as leadership positions. I am really interested to see where adventure therapy goes, it seems like such a fresh take on mental health treatment for kids and adolescents and I will definitely keep it in consideration for a future career.

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