Wilderness therapy is fairly modern, yet is rapidly expanding and growing in research due to its effectiveness and positive results. While our approach is slightly modified to accommodate the wounded service member, the basic tenets are the same. Wilderness therapy hinges on the principal that when an individual is removed from a familiar negative stimulus such as a hospital, bedroom, unhealthy home or bad relationship, they are aware of the change within themselves both as an individual and in relationships to others. While this may seem a stretch for some, men have retreated to deer stands and bass trackers for years to simply clear their minds and relax. The outdoors offer a great canvas to display comfort, peace and soothing rhythms such as wind blowing over hayfields, rivers escorting trout downstream and the warmth and crackle of a fire.
Our therapeutic goal for wounded warriors is to allow them to experience the outdoors by camping, hunting, hiking, and other activities all while spending time with licensed professional counselors (LPC). This dualistic approach allows each service member to enjoy the outdoors while exploring their new life which includes physical limitations, mental obstacles and adjustments to relationships and family. While at the ranch, each individual will not only get to experience the outdoors but will also undergo individual, group and family therapy. The therapist’s role in this venture is to provide a safe environment for the service member to discuss and explore their fear and challenges that now face them every day. The LPC will collaboratively guide the member to a healthy and positive outlook in their new future. Going to combat is hard enough as it is. Coming home mentally and physically different is challenging and scary. Wilderness therapy allows us to help our wounded warrior not only feel safe again but allows them to have a new and healthy fresh start for the future.
For those who do not wish to hunt, we will also be offering animal therapy using horses as well as fawns. When dealing with horses, the personnel and the horses will have to work to earn each other’s trust. Fawns will have an easier time in learning to trust the personnel as they are bottle fed. The fawns, once grown, will require more attention as they will be used with children as well. We will only be using doe deer/fawns. Buck fawns will not be handled unless they require treatment for an injury.