Experience Wilderness Therapy in Utah

I feel that pretty much anyone would benefit from learning the skills and tools that are taught here at Traverse.

- Former Traverse Client

 DSC8060 2000pxsRGB1We envision a world where everyone has the support and skills necessary to live a full and healthy life. Our mission is to provide young adults with the most engaging and effective treatment program in the outdoors. As an intentionally small owner-operated company, our program and our company culture are centered around our four core values:

  • Empowerment: We believe that we all possess the power to be the person we want to be and to live the life we want to live. Once we harness our personal power, we can change the world.
  • Passion: There is something that sparks all of us to dream, to wonder, to work, to live. We believe that once we tap into our personal passions, we are better able to articulate what we want to do with our lives, and what impact we want to have on the world.
  • Connection: We believe that life is meaningless without connection to others, to ourselves, to the natural world. We believe that we are strongest when we are connected to a community of friends and family.
  • Character: We believe that one’s character is the foundation of one’s personal legacy. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. Follow through on your commitments. Your word is your bond. We believe that every second of every day we are who we are. Both how we treat those we want something from, and how we treat those from whom we have nothing to gain. And how we respond to failure, both our own and others’.

Change happens when one feels safe, inspired, and confident to make one’s life their own. We believe it’s our responsibility to create this environment while empowering our clients through open and honest dialogue, and concrete resources. We provide an extraordinary wilderness therapy experience to our clients that results in life-long memories, clarity on who they are and who they want to be, better relationships with their families, and tools to create the life they really want to live.

Risk Management

Our primary responsibility is to ensure the physical, emotional, and psychological well-being of our clients at all times. Lasting change can only occur when a person is not concerned for their immediate safety. This is why Elements Traverse is not a boot camp, and does not employ any form of deprivation as a means to force compliance. Of all the research we have investigated and performed, the idea of breaking people down to build them up has been disproven time and again. This is also why our staff are trained exhaustively and have several redundant forms of communication so that they can always access all the same emergency services that one would find in civilization.

Field Mentors

climbing8Our field mentors are background-screened and extensively vetted for appropriateness of fit. They are consistently evaluated by supervisors and peers in order to continuously develop themselves as professionals working in Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare.

They come from varied backgrounds, but one thing is common amongst all staff who work with our clients: a genuine caring for our clients and the work we do, and a desire to grow in their professional lives as well as their personal lives.

To find out more about our field mentors, check out our Team page. 

Program Phases

At Elements Traverse, we recognize that no one can force true change on a person, whether by coercion or enticement. We believe that our clients need consistency and predictability in order to feel safe and to understand their environment. Our phase system helps clients track their own progress and gain insight into their own personal growth. It provides our clients with a structure that helps make the process of personal growth feel more concrete and clear.

Orientation

When clients arrive at Elements Traverse, they are given time to adjust to their unfamiliar surroundings. Orientation is designed to promote trust and prepare clients to participate at a minimal level in the community. During this phase, the client spends time away from the social distractions of the group and has time to begin to let go of the confusion from home and connect with the pace of living in the wilderness.

Clients are assigned a peer mentor and a staff mentor who support them in their physical and emotional acclimation. The new client is given reading and writing assignments that promote reflection on the past and help the client understand and anticipate the process of change.

Duration: ~24 hours

Connection

The connection phase is all about practicing new ways of connecting to oneself, others, and the world. Connection is also a time for taking an honest look at one's life and trying to learn from it, while being open to others’ perspectives. Clients begin to develop greater self-awareness and foster therapeutic skills that will be a foundation for ongoing success. During this phase, the client learns to rely on the group for emotional and physical support. The client gains self confidence as he or she masters living in the wilderness. During this phase the therapist, client, and family work together to develop an individualized treatment plan.

Duration: ~2 weeks

Empowerment

Empowerment is about taking ownership over one's life and accountability for one's choices (both healthy and unhealthy). We believe this happens by honing skills and challenging one's self to go further. While on the Empowerment phase, clients will have the choice to focus more directly on three aspects of holistic health: Mental, Physical, and Emotional. Clients are also expected to continue practicing much of what they learned in Connection. This is both to help them maintain consistency as well as to show the connection between our thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and sensations.

The Empowerment phase helps clients move from simple awareness and cooperation towards deeper accountability and initiative. Clients use their new skills to understand the impact their actions have had on themselves and family members.

Duration: ~4 to 6 weeks

Character

Character is the final phase and happens during a clients final week in the program. When clients reach the character phase, they have progressed from superficial motivation to more active and invested participation. The client takes a step beyond simple accountability and is now working in partnership with his or her peers, staff, therapist and family to complete treatment goals. 

The purpose of the Character phase is to prep the client for the transition out of Elements Traverse by reflecting on the skills and insight learned, creating a plan for navigating the inevitable challenges ahead, and articulating the hopes and dreams they have for themselves.

Duration: ~1 week

It’s really tough at the beginning and for the first few weeks. It’s uncomfortable and physically and emotionally challenging. However, persevere through and you’ll see amazing growth and a changed person. 

- Former Traverse Client

Adventure Programming

 DSC7962 2000pxsRGB1Elements Traverse incorporates Adventure Programming in order to complement our strong therapeutic foundation. We believe adventure programming provides a unique experience for clients during their Utah wilderness therapy experience. The challenge of activities (including rock climbing, rappelling, canyoneering, stand-up paddleboarding, rafting, fly-fishing and low ropes courses) can provide a host of powerful teaching opportunities. Positive outcomes include increases in self confidence, self-efficacy, problem-solving skills, effective communication, self-awareness, trust, and developing healthy coping strategies.

In keeping to our commitment to provide the highest quality programming, Elements Traverse is aligned with American Mountain Guide Association’s (AMGA) standards and training to facilitate our adventure-based experiences. AMGA is established as an international industry leader in training and certification for climbing and mountaineering.

Adventure Programming offers our clients an alternative view to challenges in life, and how to negotiate them with a sense of empowerment. We believe adventure-based challenges will accelerate the therapeutic process while building confidence to make healthier overall decisions.

My favorite moments were often during the adventure programming where I got to bond with the group doing activities I love.

- Former Traverse Client

Expedition Model

Anchoring the shelter

Our clients have long sought distraction as a way to avoid taking responsibility for their actions. That is why we believe that a comprehensive program set in an environment free of outside distractions provides the best space for our clients to come to a real understanding about their role in their lives.

Three to five days a week, clients backpack from campsite to campsite. Some weeks, there may be a day or two of adventure programming. Other weeks are focused on backpacking and outdoor living skills. Regardless of the week's hiking or adventure schedule, there is personal time built in for clients to work on therapeutic assignments, letter writing, reading, as well as time for group processing of different therapeutic topics. 

Two days a week, the therapist visits the group wherever they are in the field area. Individual and group therapy sessions happen on these days. The therapist also brings out mail for clients from family and friends.

Our clients own their journey, and the sense of accomplishment they get from being in the wilderness is unparalleled.

Learn More About Our Program