The value of therapeutic outdoor programs with adolescents in a rural residential treatment center: A pilot study


  • Kenneth M. Coll, PhD
  • Margaret Sass, EdD
  • Brenda J. Freeman, PhD
  • Patti Thobro, MS
  • Nicole Hauser, MSW



therapeutic recreation, youth offenders, residential treatment center, YCRA


The purpose of this study is to investigate how therapeutic recreation within a wilderness setting (aka therapeutic outdoor programming) affects youth functionality as measured by the Youth Comprehensive Risk Assessment (YCRA) utilizing pretest and post-test results. For purposes of this article, therapeutic recreation is defined as “a treatment service designed to restore, remediate and rehabilitate a person’s level of functioning and independence in life activities, to promote health and wellness as well as reduce or eliminate the activity limitations and restrictions to participation in life situations caused by an illness or disabling condition.”1 Results showed that youth from a residential treatment center (RTC) engaged in a therapeutic outdoor program in the form of overnight trips of at least 3 days reported overall improvements when compared to a matched control group.

Author Biographies

Kenneth M. Coll, PhD

Dean, Professor, Counseling Education, College of Education, University of Nevada, Reno, Reno, Nevada

Margaret Sass, EdD

Assistant Director, Service Learning, Center for Instructional Excellence, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana

Brenda J. Freeman, PhD

Professor, Counseling Education, College of Education, University of Nevada, Reno, Reno, Nevada

Patti Thobro, MS

Clinical Director, Cathedral Home for Children, Laramie, Wyoming

Nicole Hauser, MSW

Assistant Director, Cathedral Home for Children, Laramie, Wyoming


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How to Cite

Coll, PhD, K. M., Sass, EdD, M., Freeman, PhD, B. J., Thobro, MS, P., & Hauser, MSW, N. (2013). The value of therapeutic outdoor programs with adolescents in a rural residential treatment center: A pilot study. American Journal of Recreation Therapy, 12(4), 25–30.