Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Applied Sociology

Committee Chair/Advisor

Wentworth, William

Committee Member

Sturki , Kinly

Committee Member

Britz , Marjie


Through content analysis, this thesis analyzes relevant wilderness therapy programs and residential treatment centers specifically designed for at-risk youth. More specifically, this study is an applied analysis. The results provide primary care-givers with a guide for assessing programs before their adolescent continues down the path to juvenile incarceration. The study analyzed 20 wilderness therapy programs and 19 residential treatment centers through a series of exploratory questions derived from empirical research concerning the effective and ethically sound treatment of at-risk youth.
The five research questions are as follows:
1) What aspects of the program promote and include family involvement?
2) Does the program stress staff competency by providing relevant training and an on-site licensed therapist?
3) What steps are taken to ensure that an aftercare/transitional program is employed after graduation from the program?
4) Is the program accredited under a nationally recognized accrediting body?
5) Does the program engage in outcome studies or track continued progress of former clients after the program is completed?
The study found that wilderness therapy programs demonstrated positive results in the areas of family involvement, staff competency, and accreditation. Additionally, the study found that residential facilities had the highest percentage of positive results in the
area of staff competency and highest percentage of negative results in the area of outcome studies. Both types of programs had a high percentage of positive results in the area of family involvement.

Included in

Sociology Commons



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