Outcomes Research Study Reveals Vast Majority of Parents Would Recommend Wilderness Therapy Programs to Other Parents of Troubled Teens

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Study finds significant improvements in teen behaviors after they attend a wilderness therapy program.

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Our parents are telling us they are very satisfied with the services they received and have seen significant improvements in their teens’ behaviors.

An overwhelming 86 percent of parents who sent their child to an Aspen Education Group(“Aspen”) wilderness therapy program between 2007-2010 would recommend the program to other families in need.

So reveal the findings of a recent research study conducted by the nation’s leading provider of therapeutic education programs for struggling or underachieving teens.

“We are very pleased with the findings of the study,” said Phil Herschman, President of Aspen. “Our parents are telling us they are very satisfied with the services they received and have seen significant improvements in their teens’ behaviors.”

Aspen embarked on this study after conducting numerous focus groups with parents, school principals and clinical professionals. The focus groups revealed a consistent pattern of concerns that parents had for their children and a consistent set of expectations when they enroll their child in a wilderness therapy program.

Wilderness therapy programs – not to be confused with “boot camps” or other military-style teen programs – have proven effective with helping teens in other studies as well. In 1997, an independent research study was conducted by the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Research Cooperative (OBHRC) at the University of Minnesota as part of ongoing outcomes study research. This study, led by researcher Keith Russell, Ph.D., concluded that teens struggling with substance abuse reported reduced frequency of use and a greater inclination to work on the emotional or social issues that triggered their behavior following treatment in a licensed, high-quality wilderness program. Other findings included significant reductions in symptoms of pre-existing depression, anxiety and stress after attending a program.

For this most recent study, Aspen surveyed more than 10,000 parents and received over 1,300 responses to date.

The study found that there was a dramatic improvement in feelings of safety, trust and the likelihood of receiving an education upon return from one of Aspen’s wilderness therapy programs. While 87 percent of parents feared for their child’s safety prior to treatment, only 22 percent felt that way after treatment. Similarly, 86 percent didn’t trust their child prior to treatment, while only 25 percent felt that way following treatment. Seventy-eight percent of parents felt their child was tearing their family apart prior to treatment, with only 16 percent still feeling this way after. And 86 percent felt their child would never get an education prior to treatment as compared to just 23 percent after treatment.

“These results indicate that parents can be confident that Aspen’s wilderness therapy programs will deliver significant improvement in the key areas that most parents are concerned about,” said Herschman. “And that our parents have seen enough positive results from their own teens that make them believe it would be the right choice for other parents in-need.”

Aspen Education Group offers parents a nationwide network of therapeutic education programs that include wilderness programs, therapeutic boarding schools and residential treatment centers. The organization’s wilderness therapy programs include Adirondack Leadership Expeditions(Saranac Lake, New York), Aspen Achievement Academy (Loa, Utah), Outback Therapeutic Expeditions(Lehi, Utah), Phoenix Outdoor(Asheville, North Carolina), SUWS Adolescent Program(Shoshone, Idaho), and SUWS of the Carolinas(Old Fort, North Carolina).

The programs effectively utilize the wilderness setting to remove modern distractions from teens’ lives so that they can learn to accept responsibility for personal decisions, address individual and family issues, and become invested in their own personal growth. Trained staff provide essential guidance and support to misdirected and at-risk adolescents with a nurturing approach that helps participants achieve success in a safe environment and realize their potential.

Aspen Education Group’s services range from short-term intervention programs to residential treatment and include a variety of therapeutic settings that allow professionals and families the opportunity to choose the best setting to meet a student’s unique academic and emotional needs. Aspen is a member of CRC Health Group, the nation’s largest chemical dependency and related behavioral health organization. Since 1995, CRC Health has been achieving successful outcomes for individuals and families. For more information, visit http://www.crchealth.com.

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