Wilderness Therapy Admissions

If what you have read so far resonates with you as something that might help you, please give me a call at 866-542-2252 at any time. I’m happy to answer any questions you may have about our wilderness therapy program in general, or Elements Traverse in particular. If you are not a fit, I will tell you why so that you can be even better equipped to find the best treatment option for you.

To expedite the admissions review process, you may wish to send in a completed application immediately. Just go to our admissions portal, create a new account, and begin filling out the application. You can save your progress and come back to it at any time. Upon completion, submit the application and begin filling out the supplemental pages. The supplemental pages will need to be hand-written and either faxed, or scanned and emailed.

Good luck as you search for solutions. Having done this work for many years, I can tell you with confidence—there is hope.


John Karren, Co-Owner & Admissions Director


Immediate Assistance is Available

We understand the urgency of your situation, and that you may need quick placement into our program.

A member of our Admissions Team is typically available at 866-542-2252 most hours of the day, 24/7, 365 days a year. Should we be unavailable, we will return your call as soon as possible. Please reach out any time.

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Insurance and Financial Options

Here at Elements, we believe that access to behavioral and mental healthcare is as fundamental as access to medical care. However, limitations of working with insurance companies mean that we work on a reimbursement basis, where families pay tuition costs up front and then apply for reimbursement after treatment is complete.

It is at that point that we give families a “superbill” which breaks out the cost of therapies provided from the cost of residential care. Coverage amount varies from plan to plan and state to state, but most families with health insurance will at least see some reimbursement for the cost of therapies provided by and under the supervision of our licensed clinicians, whereas others may see reimbursement for costs related to the residential portion of our treatment.

With all the research we have done to prove the efficacy of wilderness therapy (professionally termed Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare), coupled with the Mental Health Parity Act, families are seeing more reimbursement than ever. The following two companies dedicate their profession to helping families see returns on the cost of treatment.

DenialsMgmt logo 1 SJ Health Insurance Advocates logo

In order to help families access the resources to pay the up front cost of treatment, we have also developed a relationship with a healthcare lending institution, Prosper Healthcare. Please click the link below to see their brochure.

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Please do not hesitate to contact us directly to discuss your family’s situation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What distinguishes Elements Traverse?

While the field of wilderness therapy is relatively new (beginning only in the 1980′s), we’ve built an approach informed by our 40+ years of combined experience in wilderness therapy and outdoor adventure programs, based on principles that work. See this page to read more about the experience of our leadership.

Furthermore, we pride ourselves on running a program tailored specifically to young adults and to the unique challenges of young adulthood. This results in the most effective and compelling treatment experience possible.

What distinguishes you from other programs?

Several key things that clearly distinguish our program.

The four most important aspects are:

i. Our clients live in the field for the entire time they are at wilderness.

ii. Our therapists spend at least two days a week in the field with your child while many other programs spend hours each week driving their clients to visit their therapist at a central office for limited-duration visits.

iii. We have an evidence-based therapy model on which our clinical and field staff are trained. The two departments work hand-in-hand to provide therapy to our clients every day in meaningful way.

iv. Our program is not an overly-elaborate vacation and this is a key distinguishing point between us and our competitors. The purpose of your time here is to engage in treatment and wilderness therapy, and this is what we provide. With this said, you will have the opportunity to engage in a host of adventure activities such as rock climbing, rappelling, canyoneering, stand-up paddleboarding, snowshoeing, and more. While challenging, the experience you will have will be spectacular, life changing, and fulfilling.

Does researching online work for understanding therapeutic programs?

While we’ve done the best to present the specifics of our program on our website (just as many programs do), the issues that are confronting you are unique and are often very complex. While researching online may be helpful, it just isn’t the same as speaking to experts who understand the your unique complexities.

Experts may be an Educational Consultant or a Psychologist. If you need a name or some initial direction we’re happy to provide it. Contact John in our admissions office.

Where are your clients typically from?

Our clients come from all walks of life and all locations in the US and we often have several international clients as well. Many are from urban areas. Regardless of where you are from, you will find us and our program approachable and easy to interact with.

Does your program operate 365 days a year?

Our program operates 365 days a year and does not close for holidays or special occasions. You will also be expected to be here during these times.

How old is your program?

Our sister program, Elements Wilderness, was founded in 2008, and in 2016, we started Elements Traverse in order to serve young adults. We were founded as a partnership between some of the top specialists in Utah in wilderness therapy in logistics/operations, clinical therapy, and program management. Learn more about our leadership here.

Where is your program located?

Our program is located 2.5 hours south of Salt Lake City in the town of Huntington, on the west-northwest of a well-known area of Utah called the San Rafael Swell. We operate from Huntington in order to access lower elevations for the winter, and the mountains for the warm summer months.

Why is your program so long?

The process that we have to undertake at Elements Traverse requires weeks to do effectively otherwise you may not address the issues that confronted you in the first place.

Contrary to popular belief, 8-11 weeks is not a lot of time considering that we are addressing years of habit and behavior. Our process requires looking honestly at the issue, and then rebuilding your opinion of the matter so you can move forward in life and succeed, and this takes about 8-11 weeks on average.

Can I come home for my birthday or holidays?

We suggest that you do not come home and that you spend your entire time in wilderness. Returning home before the wilderness therapy process is complete is not recommended for a variety of reasons and it is important that we set the expectation to all prospective clients about this.

However, your family can visit and will be in touch with you during the program.

How does my family interact with me?

Because you are in the wilderness setting, there is some communication with your family via the phone but the majority is via letter writing. We have a specific tool we use for this called the client portal.

Is my family able to communicate with my therapist? How do they interact with Elements Traverse?

Parent interaction is critical to our program. Your parent(s) will interact with your therapist every week in order to gain an understanding of where you are in the process, what issues are concerning you, and how you are moving forward. Additionally, your parents can interact with you weekly via letter, and partway through the process, they can fly to Salt Lake City and come and visit you in the wilderness.

Do you admit women to your program?

Yes, we serve both young women and men in a co-ed group.

Is Elements Traverse a “boot camp?”

Elements Traverse is in no way, shape, or form a “boot camp.” Likewise, we do not operate on a deprivation model nor is our program a “survival” program. Our program is a therapeutic wilderness therapy program.

The difference between boot camps and wilderness therapy programs is large. Boot camps are typically state funded and are designed as a last step before incarceration for behaviorally-out-of-control clients. The approach is typically militaristic and aggressive and seldom contains therapeutic components.

Wilderness programs are typically privately run, have licensed therapists, and are evidence-based. They typically work with a variety of clients who have a large variety of issues, but most do not admit clients who have a long history of involvement with the law.

How can you ensure my safety?

Safety is our highest priority. There are always several highly-trained field staff onsite camping with you and the group. At all hours, our staff is dedicated to your physical and emotional safety in every way, shape, and form.