Child and Youth Care Forum

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 209–239 | Cite as

Two Years Later: A Qualitative Assessment of Youth Well-Being and the Role of Aftercare in Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Treatment

  • Keith C. Russell


This study evaluated youth well-being 24-months after the conclusion of outdoor behavioral healthcare (OBH) treatment and explored how youth transition to a variety of post-treatment settings. OBH treatment involves integrating clinical treatment approaches with wilderness expeditions that average over 50 days. Transition from OBH treatment often requires that youth and family utilize aftercare services, which are typically: (a) outpatient services, which are comprised of individualized, group or family therapy, or (b) residential services, which are comprised of residential treatment centers, therapeutic boarding schools, and others. The results suggest that 80% of parents and 95% of youths perceived OBH treatment as effective, the majority of clients were doing well in school, and family communication had improved. Aftercare was utilized by 85% of the youths and was perceived as a crucial component in facilitating the transition from an intensive wilderness experience to family, peer and school environments. Results also indicated that many continued to use alcohol and/or drugs to varying degrees, had legal problems, and still had issues forming friendships with peers. OBH treatment was perceived as being a necessary and effective step in helping youths address, and eventually overcome, emotional and psychological issues that were driving destructive behavior prior to OBH treatment.


adolescent treatment wilderness therapy outcome aftercare services 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Keith C. Russell
    • 1
  1. 1.Outdoor EducationUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA

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