The Role of Physical Exercise in Wilderness Therapy for Troubled Adolescent Women

Michael C. Caulkins, Dave White, Keith C. Russell

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    35 Scopus citations


    This study explores the impacts of backpacking as a therapeutic process for troubled adolescent women participating in wilderness therapy. A qualitative case study approach was used to investigate the experience of six adolescent women and three female wilderness instructors at an established wilderness therapy program. Data were collected through participant observation, client psychological profiles, and semi-structured interviews. Research explored the emotional, cognitive, and physical impacts attributed to the backpacking component of the therapeutic process and the relationships between these impacts. Results revealed eight central impacts of backpacking, each of which fell into categories differentiated by dimensions of temporality, intensity, and clarity. A conceptual model captures the flow of the backpacking process and offers insight into this specific therapeutic element of wilderness therapy.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)18-37
    Number of pages20
    JournalJournal of Experiential Education
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Mar 1 2006


    • Adolescent Women
    • Backpacking
    • Physical Exercise
    • Wilderness Therapy

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Education


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