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Abstract

Adolescent recidivism rates remain high in the United States despite the fact juvenile crime has declined since the 1990’s. Wilderness therapy (WT) is an emerging treatment approach for adolescents involved in the juvenile justice system. This review examines outcome studies utilizing a wilderness therapy program in an effort to reduce adolescent recidivism. Studies were eligible if they: (a) evaluated a WT intervention, (b) utilized an adolescent population, (c) included a measure of recidivism as an outcome variable, and were (d) published in English between 1990 and June of 2010 in a peer-reviewed journal. A total of seven studies on WT were included, and the majority of studies indicated mildly positive short-term results though long-term effects were mixed. The overall quality of the evaluations designs was low, indicating the need for better controlled and longer term experimental evaluations.

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