Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 511–522 | Cite as

Changes in Late Adolescents and Young Adults’ Attachment, Separation, and Mental Health During Wilderness Therapy

  • Joanna E. BettmannEmail author
  • Anita Tucker
  • Ellen Behrens
  • Mindy Vanderloo
Original Paper


The study explored changes in young adults’ mental health, attachment, and separation from parents during a seven-week wilderness therapy program. Utilizing a longitudinal one-group design, the study examined outcomes of 157 young adults in one wilderness therapy program. From pre to post treatment, participants reported significant improvement in mental health symptoms and interpersonal relationships, as well as increases in the belief that others can be depended upon. Participants reported less resentment and anger towards mothers from pre to post treatment, but an increase in their needs for approval from fathers. The study details a link between young adults’ attachment, independence from parents, and improvement in mental health, suggesting that treatment which targets these links may provide more effective intervention.


Young adults Separation-individuation Attachment Mental health 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The first author was a co-owner and employee of the WT program which served as the study site for this research. The remaining authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joanna E. Bettmann
    • 1
    Email author
  • Anita Tucker
    • 2
  • Ellen Behrens
    • 3
  • Mindy Vanderloo
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Utah, College of Social WorkSalt Lake CityUSA
  2. 2.University of New HampshireDurhamUSA
  3. 3.Westminster CollegeNew WilmingtonUSA

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