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Wilderness therapy info

Catherine Freer Wilderness Therapy Programs

Catherine Freer Wilderness Therapy Programs is a behavior modification program using a form of wilderness therapy as tool.

The program is named after a climber who disappeared on Mount Logan in 1987 [1]. It was founded in 1988 by Robert Cooley.

Program structure

The program last 21 day with a option of further days if it is decided.

Before the first phase starts a multi-family meeting are held. Parents and siblings are welcome. The reason for the banishment of the teenager are shared with the other families under guidance of a therapist. Towards the end of the meeting the families will say goodbye to the teenagers and they will be escorted down where they will be ask to strip before they are searched and given new clothes for the field. They are then escorted out in the field while the families continue the last part of the meeting.

The only mean of communication is letters. The program recommend two with a encouraging content. The families have weekly phone calls with the staff in the office.

The program state that teenagers that want to quit the program, will be prevented without specifying with what means they will use.

Phase I

The first 21 days is called Phase I. Each detained child is sleeping in his or her own shelter isolated with some distance from the rest of the group they are part of, so they can not conspire. Until they hike they eat breakfast, cook and work on their personal journals and talk with a therapist periodically. After hike with breaks for lunch and setting up a new camp, some are given extra hikes as "rewards" before the day ends with dinner and 2 to 3 hours group therapy.

When the first phase are over a second family meeting are held.

Phase II

Phase II are more group-oriented. The teenagers are still kept isolated during the night but they have to agree to a leader for the activity of the day.

Phase II ends with a third family meeting [1].

In the News

May 27, 2002 a 15 year old girl (Erica Harvey) died during a hike [2]. Another girl - 15 years of age -  died October 20 the same year.

March 26, 2003 a tree crushed the skull of 16 year old Corey Baines from Santa Rosa [3].

In 2005 18 year old Chase W. Bickell was seriously injured. [4].


1) Admission packet
2) Press Release at Strugglingteens.com
3) Tree limb victim identified as SR boy, International Survivor Action Committee
4) Teen rescued after being hurt on outdoor outing, International Survivor Action Committee

External Links

Info:  Program Homepage
  International Survivor Action Committee on Catherine Freer
Forum: Fornits about the industry in general