Am I losing my freedom in this process? Is wilderness meant to give me a harsh reality check?

Wilderness is not a punishment. This is true in both intention and practice. There is nothing punitive about this experience, and this fact is usually overwhelmingly evident by the end of your first day. There is a lot of misunderstanding about what therapeutic wilderness programs actually are, and much of it is perpetuated by otherwise bright, caring and professional treatment providers. We believe that this confusion isn’t malicious, but resulting from a lack of exposure in many cases. We do intensive therapeutic work that requires emotional vulnerability, and that cannot be achieved in an environment where students feel as though they are being punished or are unsafe.

The kind of transformational, life-changing progress created in wilderness can only be achieved in the context of trusting, secure relationships. In many cases, our students have not experienced the level of emotional safety among peers or adults that they do while participating in Emerald Arrow.

The tricky part is trusting your ability to recreate your safe, healthy experience in the “real world”. Spoiler alert: You can, and you will.