Family involvement and outcome in adolescent wilderness treatment: A mixed-methods evaluation


  • Nevin J. Harper University of Victoria
  • Keith C. Russell University of Western Washington


wilderness treatment, family involvement, mixed-methods, outcomes


Wilderness treatment programmes, like residential programmes, serve children and adolescents with serious emotional, behavioural and substance use issues. Wilderness treatment programmes have limited empirical support for their effectiveness relative to other treatment modalities and require critical examination to delineate themselves from unregulated wilderness programmes currently under increased scrutiny in the United States for malpractice and unethical ‘treatment’ of troubled teens. While demonstrating promise in adolescent treatment outcomes, the family, and related family outcomes have received limited attention. This paper describes the wilderness treatment model, reviews the role of family involvement in adolescent treatment and presents the results of a mixed-methods examination of family involvement. Implications for practice and research are discussed.

Author Biographies

Nevin J. Harper, University of Victoria

Research Fellow, School of Child and Youth Care, University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

Keith C. Russell, University of Western Washington

Ph.D., Associate Professor, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Western Washington, Bellingham, Washonton, USA.