Wilderness Therapy program at Naropa University

♫ ♫ ♫ I like to describe our program as
the conscious incorporation of the natural world into
the therapeutic process. So that really means it’s much more than
wilderness work because we also expose students to horticulture therapy and equine assisted therapy. We are unique in having kind of the more
wilderness therapy eco-psychology perspective in addition to the adventure therapy. The contemplative aspect which is of course typical to Naropa — the helping people examine both their own
experience and other people’s experience in that — in
that contemplative perspective. We start with a 10 day intensive, which
happens in August before the new student orientation. And that whole time is outdoors. Part of it is on some private property and part of it is in the back country of the Colorado Rockies. First-year during the actual school year they’re in regular weekly classes and so that’s that combination, the first
year, of this very intense outdoor time and then kinda
traditional classroom. The second year is when the students get
most exposure to the outdoor field sections. Most of their course content happens in
those field sections. Students might be taking a class in
group dynamics and in working with special
populations and in family systems and on any given field section we
actually integrate all of those content areas into the field
sections. So I think that’s also one of the wonderful things about — about our
structure. And sometimes when we’re in the
backcountry we’re actually doing some very traditional lectures that could happen indoors but we
happen to be in the backcountry. So that’s how we get that combination. In the second year, we have a number
field sections. We start with the mountain section and in that section there’s an
emphasis on primitive skills and also on sensory
awareness activities. And in the climbing section students obviously get exposed to the skills of climbing, but they’re also doing a lot of
practice of how to really innovatively bring in climbing to work with somebody therapeutically.
That’s followed by a section in the canyons in Utah. And a ropes course section where they do
both high and low ropes course and also a equine assisted section and then in the
spring semester they have a horticulture therapy section and then they do a combined field
section where they go out to Utah and do a River section and then they have one day off and then they do a rights of passage. Which we put that at the end of their second year because it’s really their transition
from kinda the classroom, the traditional — academic work and the field working a
lot of that kind of student work. And then they’re transitioning into an
internship in the third year. Students who have some
sort of deep relationship and appreciation with the
rest the natural world are interested in the Naropa wilderness therapy program — uh typically our students are in their twenties or thirties but we
also have had students in their forties or their fifties. And I would say that they really come
from a broad background. Many of our students are drawn to the
program because of that contemplative aspect and that
kind of eco-psychology perspective that emphasizes relationship with the natural world. What are the
benefits of bringing nature into that uh the counseling or the therapeutic process and how do you do it? And so I think that that’s one of the unique
things that we offer. ♫ ♫ ♫ [CHIME]

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