Second Nature (Wilderness Program)

Second Nature (Wilderness Program)

ABOUT SECOND NATURE (WILDERNESS PROGRAM)

For almost 20 years, Second Nature Wilderness Program (SNWP) has been aiding adolescents between the ages of 13 and 17 who are struggling with a range of mental, emotional, or behavioral health problems, such as drug abuse or learning disabilities. Though the main office is in Duchesne, Utah, camping locations vary. It is a wilderness therapy program wherein residents learn through outdoor experiences.

TREATMENT & ASSESSMENT

Individuals undergo an initial assessment that matches clients with a group suited to their individual psychiatric needs. For instance, those with similar struggles might be grouped together. Students, as they are called, recover through engaging in camping experiences such as building and tearing down campsites and hiking three to five miles each day. Groups operate like a family with each individual performing simple chores.

Students work through four stages of treatment called earth, water, fire, and air. Additionally, teens receive one to two hours of individual therapy each week as well as daily group therapy. Combined with the “healing power of nature,” staff utilize cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) as well as psychodynamic, family systems, and developmental theoretical models. When necessary, clients also receive medication management.

Aftercare planning begins at the same time as treatment. Staff communicate with parents back home about medication changes and encourage participation in family therapy. The facility offers parent workshops and support groups and asks that parents participate in planning for continuing care.

STAFF CREDENTIALS

The facility employs a clinical director and medical coordinator as well as therapists and a psychiatrist.

ACCOMMODATIONS & AMENITIES

Residents stay in shelters they build themselves and are supplied with fresh food and water twice during the week to make meals. All gear needed to camp and hike is provided.

WHAT ALUMNI SAY

Reviewers reporting ratings to Best-rehabs.com to date for SNWP provided mostly negative feedback. Two alumni were pleased with their experiences, while five did not recommend the program. Six of the seven reviewers who were asked about treatment effectiveness gave it a low average rating of 2.33 out of five stars.

Those who offered high praise for the program also indicated that it was hard and required a lot of work, including D.B., who added that the program is not for everyone and praised the loving staff. The same reviewer wrote: “I know it saved my life and the lives of the other girls in my group all who I have stayed in touch with.”

Those who did not recommend the program advised readers to do in-depth research before spending “buckets of money” sending a loved one to treatment. Jay was so upset by his experience that he wrote: “This is abuse not therapy. I was sent here after experiencing a traumatic event in my life and it made it worse.”

WHAT FRIENDS & FAMILY SAY

At the time of this writing, feedback from loved ones is also mixed. An anonymous reviewer awarded five out of five stars for treatment effectiveness in their positive review while A.A. only awarded one star. A.A. wrote: “Don’t. Send your kid somewhere local. Don’t ruin your relationship with them or have them come back with worse problems than they did before you sent them.”

WHAT STAFF SAY

A single staff member provided feedback for SNWP to Best-rehabs.com to date. Staffer A.A. was once a client and more recently a employee of this facility. The reviewer gave high praise for all aspects of the program, except when it came to one of the superior employees. “All I can say is, I certainly would never send MY hurting children into such wildly incapable hands,” they wrote. Of the superior employee, A.A. said, ” It’s not okay that a hurting child “might” fall in with an employee such as this; it’s not okay that such a situation exists and perseveres at SNWP with zero awareness and so little opportunity for recourse.”

FINANCING

SNWP is out-of-network but provides materials for clients and their families to seek reimbursements from their providers.

Reviews about Second Nature (Wilderness Program)

  • Treatment Effectiveness
  • Accommodations & Amenities
  • Meals & Nutrition
  • Changed my life in a good way. They work for the clients to get the best results possible and don't let struggles get in their way of that goal. I found that the food could have been better.
  • Treatment Effectiveness
  • Accommodations & Amenities
  • Meals & Nutrition
  • It was good.
  • Treatment Effectiveness
  • Accommodations & Amenities
  • Meals & Nutrition
  • Don't. Send your kid somewhere local. Don't ruin your relationship with them or have them come back with worse problems than they did before you sent them.
  • Treatment Effectiveness
  • Accommodations & Amenities
  • Meals & Nutrition
  • I was a student at SNWP (over a decade ago) and briefly an employee for a few months earlier this year. Unfortunately, although it boasts many merits, I do not recommend this program. As a student in the early 2000s, my experience was about 1/2 positive - being in nature was wonderful for me, as was the physical fitness and the removal of junk food, but the "therapeutic" curriculum was militaristic-authoritarian in some aspects, which is the opposite of helpful. Nevertheless, I felt the removal from my toxic environment, the nature setting, a selection of key employees, and my assigned therapist helped me tremendously. I felt tremendous gratitude toward SNWP, and wilderness therapy has notoriously “chilled out” drastically since its inception. I applied to work at SNWP last year and was promptly hired and trained. I WAS happy to see that the over-the-top "hardass" approach with these traumatized kids had ceased. I want to affirm openly that that aspect of the program is irrelevant now. Training went great, as did my first few shifts, and I was very excited about this job in the beginning, with overwhelmingly positive feelings toward SNWP. To this day, I have tremendous respect and admiration for the MAJORITY of the humans at SNWP -- so much so that I have hesitated very much to voice my negative experience, but I feel it is necessary. Within weeks, I lost all respect for the program itself. Most of the employees are BEYOND WONDERFUL, effective, compassionate, and awesome, so it’s a completely unfair shame that the "weak links" are absolutely inexcusable, because otherwise the program would frankly be a smashing success. I will tell you about one such individual that was a dealbreaker for me personally. One of my superiors (a "senior" employee) got out of rehab for a decade-long heroin addiction * less than one year prior * at the time I met her. I personally found it completely inappropriate in every regard that she was hired at all. This is not a jab - I have been a drug addict myself, hence my time as a student at SNWP; that’s how I KNOW that no one is in ANY position of emotional leadership a year after getting clean! Her mental and emotional immaturity, as well as her instability, hypocrisy, and passive-aggression are unparalleled by anyone else I have known. I remember literally pinching myself in the forest because I couldn’t wrap my mind around the reality that any 30-year-old (or thereabouts) would actually behave this way in seriousness. Interacting with her was indistinguishable from interacting with a middle school bully. She would take out her personal frustrations and insecurities on others (including students) in the form of harsh verbal attacks…then come around and be sugary-sweet and apologetic for a bit…before striking again. She behaved like 2 completely different people depending on who was watching. I very sincerely asked myself if she might have split personality disorder; it was that bad. She bullied both employees AND STUDENTS - she even said to me at one point "I'm lacking some sort of empathy chip with these kids" and "I'm a pretty passive-aggressive person, honestly" (verbatim quotes). As the “newbie” hoping to make a good impression, I found these remarks odd and sorta laughed it off, but I wish I had believed her when she told me who she was. She once insulted me until I literally cried (for technical newbie mistakes she hadn’t bothered to tell me I’d been making for several days)….then berated me for crying in front of the students. I also once received unimaginable backlash because I was tending an on-fire stove and was unable to fetch her some salad dressing * from my own personal stash * at the exact nanosecond she first requested it. She was icy, standoffish, and constantly made comments insinuating that I was incompetent as an employee and terrible at time/task management for days after that. She also sat down – literally sat down in a camp chair and participated in nothing whatsoever – for the entirety of a day once, and laughed hysterically about it; this was shortly after becoming weirdly aggressive with me because I took, in her opinion, too long to tend to a skin infection I was combating at the time. These are just 3 examples from hundreds. I thought she was pulling some sort of practical joke at first, until I learned that it is her actual personality. I wish this person well in her personal recovery, but it is completely unacceptable and immoral that she is in a position to be an "emotional leader" with traumatized children, and it made me lose all faith in the integrity of the program. I quit promptly after working with this nightmare of an individual; life is simply too short. I have waited several months to write this review to make sure my views didn’t shift in the meantime, and they sure didn’t. All I can say is, I certainly would never send MY hurting children into such wildly incapable hands. She is a glaring oversight among the other absolutely saintlike employees, but unfortunately, that’ simply not good enough when it comes to healing adolescents. It’s not okay that a hurting child “might” fall in with an employee such as this; it's not okay that such a situation exists and perseveres at SNWP with zero awareness and so little opportunity for recourse. It's also worth noting that I spoke with a handful other new hires who reported similar experiences with this individual – one of whom also quit. I attempted to explain the situation to our boss upon exiting, but it was brushed off rapidly; I just gave up and left. To be 100% fair, I let it go REALLY fast - all I wanted by the end was to exit the situation forever. Had I persisted or insisted, I’m sure he would have listened further. It is my opinion he did not really understand fully what was going on, and I did NOT do everything in my power to inform him. Nevertheless, I felt that the receptivity wasn’t there, as the troublesome employee is already a “fixture,” and I opted to simply wash my hands of it all and be done.
  • Treatment Effectiveness
  • Accommodations & Amenities
  • Meals & Nutrition
  • Please do research before considering this as a treatment plan for a loved one.