More Than A Therapeutic Wilderness Program

Second Nature's therapeutic philosophy rests on the notion that the most effective treatment for adolescents requires clinical integration. This means that all aspects of the treatment process are seamlessly interwoven rather than fragmented or compartmentalized.

So often in therapeutic wilderness programs, there is a disconnect between the therapy sessions (conducted by the therapist) and the daily milieu (directed by program staff). At Second Nature, we believe the integration of these two components is critical. This is what transforms a student's experience from what would otherwise be outpatient therapy + adventure camp into a truly therapeutic experience and makes Second Nature the best wilderness therapy program for your child.

Second Nature clinicians are among the most experienced and well-respected in the field. When students are first enrolled, they are matched with the therapist and group which best fits their unique therapeutic issues. As such, Second Nature is equipped to serve a wide range of issues without concern that students will be improperly placed with peers whose focus is too dissimilar.

  • Therapists conduct weekly individual therapy sessions with their students. Therapists also facilitate group therapy sessions during field days.
  • Therapists are trained in a variety of empirically supported models, incorporating a variety of effective interventions from Cognitive-Behavioral, Psychodynamic, DBT, Family Systems, Client-Centered, Relationship Oriented, and Developmental theoretical models.
  • Second Nature's culture supports a highly integrated relationship between the therapist and the Field Instructors. Field Instructors are provided ongoing training and supervision under the direction of the therapist, and are key in implementing treatment plan objectives as outlined by the therapist. The therapists regularly invite the Field Instructor assigned to the student into individual therapy sessions. This allows for the Field Instructors to incorporate the issues identified in the session throughout the rest of the week, and to identify patterns and dynamics in the moment, as they emerge. This clinically sophisticated approach produces meaningful change that goes beyond simple behavioral stabilization or a temporary increase in self-esteem.
  • Students are provided guidance to develop substantial insight into the nature and course of their unhealthy patterns, and subsequently the skills to engage in healthier relationships and behaviors.
  • Within weeks, patterns of avoidance and helplessness are replaced with a sense of adaptability, resilience, and success. Students begin to develop an attitude of “I know I can do this.” There is no message more empowering, and the natural result is the internalization of self-respect, self-efficacy, and confidence.

Questions? Give us a call at: (877) 701-7600


Family Dynamics Assessment Tool (Exclusive to Second Nature)

Understanding the parent-child relationship and family functioning is a crucial component in the treatment of children and adolescents. As part of the Second Nature treatment approach, it is helpful to get a clearer understanding of the range of strengths and weaknesses within the family system so that these issues can be addressed more directly in weekly parent phone calls.

Second Nature has implemented a more rigorous approach to identifying important family systems issues. Rather than rely solely on intuition or generalities, we incorporate a quantitative analysis of some of these dynamics. Second Nature is the only therapeutic wilderness program in the country that uses this type of comprehensive, quantitative assessment to help guide the family therapy component of the process.

Staff Retention -- By the Numbers

Second Nature encourages a highly collaborative, innovative and supportive work environment. As a result, Second Nature retains highly experienced clinicians, field staff, management, and admissions personnel well beyond the industry average, which results in exemplary service, care, consistency, and program delivery to our students and families.

Clinical Team:
Second Nature's therapists have an average tenure of 13 years with the program

Admissions Staff:
Second Nature Admissions staff have over 10 years experience in helping students place in the appropriate group


Safety is and has always been the first priority at Second Nature. Second Nature boasts an exemplary safety record. Staff are consistently engaged in mandatory safety and best-practices training to ensure the highest level of quality care for each student. Our dedicated Risk Management Team regularly assesses safety protocols. Additionally, Second Nature:

  • utilizes heated group shelter tents at all programs in the event of inclement weather.
  • medical and support staff is always accessible (24/7) to support any emergent need.
  • offers 24-hour satellite phone capability as standard protocol in all groups in addition to cell phones and radios.
  • students are issued only the highest quality gear well-suited to the environment, terrain and weather conditions.
  • students are assessed by medical personnel on a regular basis so that any potential issues are addressed immediately.
  • always has a Wilderness First Responder present in each group, at all locations.

Renowned Client Care, Communication and Service 

Quality service has always been a hallmark of the Second Nature experience. The standard for quality communication and service is set from the first phone call and continues with every interaction. Phone calls occur on time. Follow through is paramount and quality is simply woven into the Second Nature culture.

Weekly phone calls with the therapist focus on a narrative of the student’s week, updated diagnosis and prognosis, as well as intentional discussion and guidance regarding future assignments and recommendations.

Letter writing and weekly updates combined with family therapy assignments give way to family phone therapy, and in many cases, mid-program visits designed to support the individual needs of each student and family. Second Nature's highly tenured staff is not only experienced but truly dedicated to providing each student and family with the highest quality service and care at all phases of programming.

Programming Tailored to Individual Needs

Second Nature pioneered the development of the “niche group” in therapeutic wilderness therapy, ensuring that each Second Nature student is carefully matched to the therapist and group best suited to their specific needs. Second Nature offers:

  • age and gender specific groups
  • substance abuse groups with 12 step focus.
  • innovative niche groups (such as, but not limited to trauma and related issues like PTSD and anxiety, groups for students with mood disorders like depression and/or Bipolar disorder, groups tailored to the specific needs of Autism Spectrum disorders, learning disabilities, and/or issues like Oppositional Defiant Disorder, school failure and/or refusal.) 

Nutrition and Wellness

As nutrition and diet play a significant role in the balance of a healthy mind and body, Second Nature employs a full-time, Certified Nutritionist who oversees the nutritional components and dietary offerings at each program. Second Nature’s menu consists of large quantities of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, lean and organic, locally-sourced meats, and organic granola, grains, oats, almonds and cashews. Second Nature is also able to accommodate a wide range of diets such as vegetarian, vegan, kosher, nut free and gluten-free, diabetic, and many others.  

Second Nature's Nutritionist:

  • assesses optimal nutritional needs, provides nutritional counseling, and develops and implements nutrition plans.
  • advises on healthy nutrition principles, food plans and/or diet modifications, food selection and preparation
  • helps to establish healthy habits for consciously choosing foods that promote vibrant physical and mental health and support a strong immune system.

Comprehensive Parent Support and Education

At Second Nature we believe ongoing support and education for our families is paramount to the student’s overall success. Therapists engage parents in a clinically-based parallel process to support change for the whole family. Additionally, Second Nature offers:

A Parallel Curriculum 
All Second Nature parents engage in a parallel curriculum, tailored to their child’s specific issues and treatment goals. The parent curriculum focuses on key therapeutic themes such as openness, accountability, communication, empathy and emotional development. Parents are guided to substantially engage in their own self-care and change process while engaging in a curriculum which includes podcasts, webinars, and assignments tailored to the needs of their family and child.


Mid-Program/Transition Camp
As appropriate, Second Nature therapists may recommend a mid-program/transition camp visit. Transition preparation focuses on building upon a student’s positive previous work while actively preparing them for transition out of Second Nature. On-site assignments and activities include:

  • Relapse plan (if appropriate) 
  • Family therapy sessions
  • Future planning 
  • Practicing communication skills

Dedicated Transition Preparation

At Second Nature, transition planning begins “on day one.” Second Nature clinicians work with parents, Educational Consultants, and home therapists early in the process to begin exploring the students’ needs and next steps. Therapists communicate this process to parents on the weekly calls, using the student’s functioning and progress in the group as an assessment tool to determine continued factors and support necessary for ongoing success.

As the next step is determined, therapists work proactively with students to help them prepare for the transition, along with any challenges they may encounter. This includes a variety of tasks and assignments geared toward helping the student internalize the gains made at Second Nature, and strategies for applying those skills in his/her next environment.

Upon completion of the program, the Second Nature therapist contacts the future therapist to provide a verbal summary of the student’s progress and the treatment approach that was most successful. A formal discharge summary is also provided, outlining the student’s progress and treatment recommendations.  Second Nature consistently receives consistent feedback from next step programs to at-home therapists that Second Nature students are the most insightful, motivated, and invested clients that they serve.

Ready to get started? Give us a call at: (877) 701-7600