Madolyn M. Liebing, Ph.D, who has over 25 years experience treating youth through wilderness programs, founded Journey Wilderness Program in Utah. With several residential facilities offering treatment for substance abuse and behavioral issues, Journey is best known for active treks, or wilderness retreats, through the mountains of Utah. The adolescent wilderness program treats boys and girls aged 13 to 17, while the young adult group treats men and women aged 18 to 28. The residential substance abuse program, Spirit Lake Ranch, is only available to boys aged 13 to 17. A variety of outpatient programs operate out of four clinics and employ Journey therapeutic methods serving youth, adults and families.
Accommodation and Food
Journey Wilderness camps operate out of different areas depending on the season. Treks occur throughout the breathtaking Uinta Mountains of northern Utah, the west desert, San Rafael Swell and also the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. Active trekking occurs during warmer months, with clients setting canvas tents at base camp, and adventuring to other locations throughout the day. During rain or snowfall, clients move to drier areas and safely set camp in cabins or at a ranch. All equipment and gear is provided, as well as state-of-the-art camping technology.
Clients prepare all meals with the assistance and supervision of field staff. Food is nutritious, easy to prepare and carry and is cooked on an open fire. Examples of some meals are eggs, bacon and pancakes for breakfast, organic peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwiches for lunch and 40-mile stew and salad for dinner. Fresh organic fruit and nuts are always available as snacks.
Treatment and Staff
The wilderness treatment program ranges from 30 days to six months, with an average stay of two months. Clients participate in the difficult but exhilarating range of activities, both therapeutic and recreational, daily. The integrated curriculum offers academic credit in language arts, science, health, culinary arts and PE. These credits are awarded through the Alta School, an accredited institute through the state of Utah. Clients also have direct contact with dogs, pack goats and other wild animals. They are taught to care for and respect them, as well as the environment they move through. During winter months, activities such as snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are facilitated.
Adventure therapy programs range from one to six days, and are followed by a clinical day. During the adventure program, clients wake early and begin the day with a council meeting. The majority of the day is spent completing the adventure, and the day ends at sundown with journaling, another council meeting and group sharing. Clinical days include individual therapy, as well as weekly check-ins with parents. The client’s therapist will participate in weekly phone conversations with parents, updating them on their child’s progress. The group conversations are an opportunity for the parents and child to connect and discuss any issues that may have arisen. Clinical days are also spent completing workbooks or skill-building activities.
Field staff emphasizes respect, and to exemplify this, they eat, hike and sleep the same as the clients. Licensed therapists maintain contact with clients and manage treatment plans, which may include medication management in some cases where dual diagnosis support is required. Medically monitored detox is not available, as clients participating in this program must be physically fit enough to carry backpacks and hike.
The outpatient program is offered at four locations in Utah and available to clients local to those areas. Typical programs include group and individual therapy, as well as personalized relapse prevention plans. Those that travel from interstate are able to utilize some of these tools remotely.
A variety of outdoor skills are taught, including woodwork, blacksmithing, carpentry and survival skills, with the goal being self-reliance. Mindfulness and meditation exercises are practiced, and incorporated into daily routines.
Journey Wilderness Program offers powerful recovery tools in a beautiful setting. While the adventure therapy treatment modality is challenging, it is helpful in disrupting unhealthy behavioral patterns. Wilderness camps also provide a strong opportunity for bonding and fellowship, while the more traditional therapies treat underlying causes for substance abuse and addiction. The inclusion of school credit for school-age clients is also valuable. Journey provides an integrated approach, for a reasonable cost.
Journey Wilderness Program
619 N 500 W
Provo, UT 84601
Journey Wilderness Program Cost: $9,000-$12,000 (for 30 days). Reach Journey Wilderness Program by phone at (855) 680-8777 or by email at [email protected]. Find Journey Wilderness Program on Facebook
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