Wilderness Therapy Uses Nature to Help People Heal

Wilderness Therapy Uses Nature to Help People Heal
Many of us have stories about taking solace in nature’s simple beauty, but few realize just how crucial a lifeline it can be.

Take the story of 24-year-old Gwen Miller of Lombard, IL, who suffered traumatic abuse as a child and has since used nature as a refuge and emotional salve. Her goal is to help other survivors of childhood abuse recover through exposure to the outdoors:

Miller’s [introduced people to nature] by leading inner-city kids on hikes and backpacking trips, as well as traveling to Washington, D.C., to lobby for legislation that encourages kids to go outside. Miller’s outdoor activism is motivated by her desire to help young people benefit from the natural world.

“When you like something, you care more about it and you want to protect it,” she said. “Without an interest and a comfort level in nature, a child might not see conservation as an important factor in life.”

More and more research and anecdotal evidence indicates that nature experiences buoy our mental and emotional well-being—just last week Melinda Koslow wrote about Beyond Tucson, a day-long nature experience intended to help the Arizonans come to terms with the 2011 shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

As it turns out, the young woman in the story above traveled to DC in late September with Sierra Club volunteers to advocate for the Healthy Kids Outdoors Act, which would give states funds to develop plans to get more children into the outdoors. As part…
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