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How Much Does Wilderness Therapy Cost?

Wilderness therapy has garnered popularity as an effective treatment method for individuals struggling with various mental health issues and behavioral difficulties. This one-of-a-kind treatment form forces participants out of their comfort zones and into the natural world, fostering personal development and healing.

However, the cost of such programs is a significant consideration for those considering wilderness therapy. In this article, we will explore How much does wilderness therapy cost? And provide insight into what to expect when seeking this transformative experience.

Understanding Wilderness Therapy

Before discussing the price, it is necessary to comprehend what wilderness therapy entails thoroughly. Participants in wilderness therapy programs typically spend an extended period (often several weeks) in a remote, natural environment, such as forests, mountains, or deserts. These programs are directed by seasoned therapists, guides, and instructors who employ the wilderness as a therapeutic aid.

Wilderness Therapy Cost

The wilderness environment encourages participants to escape their daily rituals and distractions, promoting introspection, emotional healing, and personal development. Activities may include hiking, camping, group therapy sessions, and adventure-based challenges to foster resilience and self-confidence.

Wilderness Therapy Cost

The cost of wilderness therapy programs can vary significantly depending on location, program duration, and the specific services offered. As of the latest available information, the average cost for wilderness therapy is approximately $558.00 per day, with an average enrollment fee of $3194.

Factors Influencing the Cost of Wilderness Therapy

  • The length of wilderness therapy programs can vary considerably. A program that lasts a few weeks may be less expensive than one that lasts several months. The duration frequently depends on the participants’ particular requirements and objectives.
  • The location of the wilderness rehabilitation program plays a significant role in establishing its price. Programs in remote and pristine natural environments, which require more excellent logistical support, are typically more expensive than programs in less remote areas.
  • There are numerous categories of wilderness therapy programs, each with distinctive characteristics and costs. Some programs, for instance, may concentrate on substance misuse recovery, while others may target troubled youth or young adults with mental health issues. The focus and intensity of the program can affect the total cost.
  • The qualifications and experience of the personnel directing the program can affect its cost. High-skilled clinicians and wilderness guides frequently command higher salaries, which can contribute to a higher total wilderness therapy cost.
  • Variable services and amenities may be included in the program bundle. Some wilderness rehabilitation programs may offer transportation to and from the wilderness, meals, camping equipment, and medical services. Others may provide a more fundamental experience in which participants are responsible for certain aspects.
  • Cost can be affected by the number of groups participating in the program. Smaller groups may offer a more personalized experience but frequently incur a higher cost per participant.
  • Reputable wilderness therapy programs are frequently accredited and licensed by relevant organizations. These accreditations and licenses may increase expenses, but they assure a higher standard of safety and quality.
  • Some wilderness therapy programs provide maintenance and follow-up services, which may include therapy sessions, support groups, and resources for participants and their families. These services can increase the total cost but are essential for sustained economic recovery and expansion.

How Much Does Wilderness Therapy Cost?

Now that we’ve discussed the factors that affect the cost of wilderness therapy, let’s examine the general cost ranges you can anticipate:

  • Low-Cost Programmes: These programs are typically shorter (two to four weeks) and may be in less remote locations. Low-cost wilderness therapy programs can cost between $3,000 and $8,000.
  • Mid-Range Programmes: These programs are frequently longer (four to eight weeks) and may include additional services like transportation, refreshments, and equipment. The average price range for moderately priced programs is between $8,000 and $20,000.
  • High-End Programmes: High-end wilderness therapy programs are frequently situated in pristine and remote environments, employ highly qualified personnel, and provide extensive services. Such programs can cost between $20,000 and $50,000 or more.

How Much Does Wilderness Therapy Cost

It is essential to note that these are only rough estimates, and actual costs can vary significantly based on the particular program and its features.

Financial Considerations and Assistance

In certain instances, health insurance plans may cover some of the costs associated with wilderness therapy, particularly when it is recommended as part of a treatment plan for mental health or addiction issues. Check with your insurance provider for coverage details.

Some wilderness therapy programs provide financial assistance or scholarships to individuals who demonstrate financial need or meet specific criteria. Investigate programs that may offer such opportunities.

Many wilderness therapy programs offer flexible payment plans to help families manage costs. This may entail extending payments over time.

Before enrolling in a wilderness therapy program, it is advisable to consult with program administrators and endure a comprehensive evaluation. This will ensure that the program meets your requirements and fits your budget.

Although the initial cost of wilderness therapy may appear excessive, it is essential to consider the long-term benefits and potential cost savings resulting from addressing underlying issues and preventing future crises.

Does Insurance Cover Wilderness Therapy?

Yes, insurance coverage for wilderness therapy is possible, but it’s important to consider that insurance policies vary widely in what they cover. For the latest insights on whether insurance covers wilderness therapy, it’s advisable to consult with your insurance provider or review your policy details.

The extended response is that wilderness treatment is becoming more affordable, and insurance is one way this occurs. While most require families to pay out of pocket, recently, there has been a lot of progress in insurance reimbursement. This happens in two manners. The first seeks reimbursement for formal therapy services.

Individual, group, and family therapy sessions during treatment may be eligible for an out-of-network refund, depending on the wilderness therapy program, its model, license, your child’s diagnosis, and your insurance plan.  

Families are requesting (and receiving) significantly more reimbursement for wilderness therapy as a short-term residential treatment. Gil Hallows, executive director of Legacy Outdoor Adventure in Utah, provides the following example: “By proactively verifying benefits and obtaining pre-authorizations, Legacy can assist many families who cannot afford to pay the full wilderness therapy cost upfront in enrolling their sons in treatment.”

Gil continued, saying, “On average, clients have received about half of the total cost covered by insurance.” Due to the (specialized) nature of the treatment provided by many other wilderness therapy programs, families have recovered up to $20,000 of the total cost of care.


Does Insurance Cover Wilderness Therapy

Even though most insurance companies will initially deny this type of treatment, there are multiple grounds for appeal. With the assistance of knowledgeable individuals about insurance claims, families can recover much larger percentages of the program wilderness therapy cost. This form of approved coverage is increasing due to two significant factors. First, as of July 2017, a new insurance code is specifically in effect for wilderness therapy. The National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programmes (NATSAP) and Outdoor Behavioural Healthcare Council continue to legitimize wilderness therapy through their research.

Second, several class-action lawsuits have been filed against insurance companies in the past few months. In many instances, even after families have gone through the extensive appeals process with insurance companies, claims are still denied.

Does Insurance Cover Wilderness Therapy

The Mental Health Parity Act mandates that if an insurance company provides intermediate care for medical issues under a particular policy, it must also provide intermediate care for mental health issues.

The precedent of class action lawsuits provides families seeking reimbursement with additional leverage. While there still needs assurance that families will be reimbursed, the progress made in this area is highly encouraging.

Does Every Wilderness Therapy Program Profit?

No, they are not.

In addition to focusing on specific age groups, there are two non-profit wilderness therapy programs and two religion-based wilderness therapy programs. Many wilderness programs collaborate with non-profit organizations or offer sliding-scale pricing.

The Conclusion

Wilderness therapy can be a life-altering experience for people with mental health or behavioral issues. Although the wilderness therapy cost of such programs can be substantial, the potential benefits of personal development, recovery, and enhanced mental health are priceless.

When contemplating wilderness therapy, it is essential to investigate various programs, assess your requirements, and investigate your financial options. The price can vary significantly based on program type, duration, location, and inclusions. By making an informed choice and placing your or a loved one’s health as a top priority, wilderness therapy can be a significant step toward enduring transformation and healing.


Does Australia have wilderness therapy?

The Australian Association for Bush Adventure Therapy Inc. is a professional organization for practitioners interested in advancing, supporting, and promoting the field of Bush Adventure Therapy in Australia. Our document of intended actions governs the scope of our work.

What is the nature therapy process?

Research indicates that spending time in natural settings benefits mental health. For instance, being in a green space has been associated with reduced anxiety, depression symptoms, and tension.

How many wilderness therapy places are in the US?

Many self-described “wilderness therapy” programs do not necessarily meet these criteria, as not all jurisdictions require certification. According to one estimate, there are roughly 26 wilderness therapy programs in the United States, whereas a previous survey identified 65 self-identified wilderness programs.

What is another term for wilderness therapy?

“Wilderness therapy” is occasionally used synonymously with “challenge courses, adventure-based therapy, wilderness experience programs, nature therapy, therapeutic camping, recreation therapy, outdoor therapy, open-air therapy, and adventure camps.