05 Nov Wilderness Therapy Degrees
WILDERNESS THERAPY DEGREES
Due to COVID-19, the world has seen a great change in the professional environment, as many found themselves reevaluating their career or education. Kyle Shepard, an experiential education director of a North Carolina wilderness therapy program feels that due to this shift in dynamic, and as burnout increased, the dynamics of being a wilderness therapy guide became more appealing to those who sought a change of setting. Shepherd comes from a background in recreational therapy with a Bachelor’s degree in rec administration, a Master’s in therapeutic recreation, and licensure as a certified rec therapist. When asked what degrees are most suitable for wilderness therapy jobs, recreational therapy was one of three degrees that are most prominently seen in this field. Wilderness therapy guides may also have a degree in psychology, as the opportunities provided in the field can facilitate clinical hands-on experience along with helping to create a strong foundation for therapeutic counseling. Also seen alongside recreational therapy and psychology degrees are a number of degree programs that specify in Outdoor Leadership, which are programs designed to prepare students for leading groups in outdoor environments. Regardless of individual motivations, wilderness therapy guides have a mutual interest in wanting to help and work with others in an environment that they themselves can enjoy alongside their clients.
Shepherd believes that wilderness therapy can appeal to all types of people stating that “the idea of being outside, being able to be creative and being able to create their own structure within a job was exciting for a lot of people.” As wilderness therapy may be useful for combating burnout, it also draws on environmental elements, elements of recreation, and therapeutic elements through adventure. Thus, it can become a life-changing and impactful experience for both clients and staff. “All elements combined help to draw parallels between daily life and recreational life, which allows students to see growth, change, see different ways of doing things, and most importantly allows students to learn about themselves through engaging in those activities,” said Shepherd while elaborating on the benefits of wilderness therapy.
“There’s no monotony in wilderness therapy, growth is happening all around you.” – Kyle Shepherd.