A Change of Scenery: Wilderness Therapy Treatment for Inpatients in Acute Care


  • Kimberley M. Woodford Nova Scotia Health Authority
  • Lara Fenton University of Manitoba
  • Jacqueline Connors Nova Scotia Health Authority




Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist, Assessment, Planning, Implementation, Evaluation, Documentation (APIED) process, mental illness, clinical population, adults, wilderness therapy


While there is substantial evidence to suggest that wilderness therapy (WT) is beneficial for individuals with mental illnesses, little research explores how such programs can be used to augment transitional support to adults who are currently in acute clinical care. This article provides evidence to show that WT has a positive impact on the recovery and transition of this population. Twenty-four inpatients participated in a three-day, two-night WT camp supported by a registered nurse, two Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists, and two recreation therapy student interns. Results indicate the WT program positively impacted clients’ positive moods, social skills, daily living, and coping skills, while providing a break from an institutional setting. A therapeutic recreation (TR) practice perspective, described through the APIED process (assessment, planning, implementation, evaluation, and documentation) is presented.

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Author Biographies

Kimberley M. Woodford, Nova Scotia Health Authority

Kimberley Woodford is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Therapist (CTRS) and has a Masters in Child and Youth Studies. She is the Research and Evaluation Director of a not-for-profit organization, Strongest Families Institute, which provides distance programs to families of children with mild to moderate mental health issues. She also holds a casual position as Recreation Therapist with the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA).

Lara Fenton, University of Manitoba

Dr. Fenton is an Assistant Professor at the University of Manitoba working on a ‘Recreation for Mental Health’ project. The project is a collaboration between Recreation Nova Scotia, Canadian Mental Health Association, Nova Scotia Division, and the School of Health and Human Performance at Dalhousie University.

Jacqueline Connors, Nova Scotia Health Authority

Jacqueline Connors is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) working as a Recreation Therapist for the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) Addictions and Mental Health Program.  Jacqueline and the RT team at NSHA was awarded a grant to facilitate the camp program through the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia.





Practice Perspective