Second Nature Cascade Campus



Boys and Girls

Call admissions department for current tuition.

42 days

Welcome to Second Nature - the industry's most sophisticated wilderness therapy treatment program. At Second Nature we provide insight, direction and hope to troubled teens and their families. As the therapists and other staff members help your teen discover the reasons behind his/her actions, your teen becomes a student of self. She/he can then make healthy choices concerning the future.
We understand that many parents are not sure where they can go for teen help. We have an entire staff of qualified individuals who will provide solutions to your questions about your troubled teen, his/her needs, and your own needs.

We congratulate you on taking the first step to help your teen. By seeking out information about a therapy program, you could literally change your child’s life as well as your own. Second Nature offers a variety of troubled teen programs. Now that you have already begun the process of getting help, we can assist you in the next step, which is to enroll your child in a recovery program.


The Second Nature Wilderness Program emphasizes assessment and intervention, with attention to behavioral steadiness, student accountability and preparation for long-term stability and treatment. Second Nature integrates the most clinical therapies with necessary behavioral interventions. Instead of teaching by instigating fear in the troubled teen, Second Nature teaches accountability and choice.

The Second Nature Wilderness Program has the most capable treatment team working in the wilderness therapy industry today; its owners serve full-time roles as clinicians in the field. This Clinical Department, which meets every week, includes the following range of professional experiences:

· Ph.D., LCSW, and MSW therapists

· All Second Nature founders are licensed therapists still in field working with students weekly. All partners have daily supervisory job obligations. We are profoundly invested in the quality of our programs; we are not responsible to the whims or impulse of venture capitalists nor shareholder pressures;

· Experience building 4 wilderness therapy programs from the ground up;
All the partners have over 10 years experience and every full time therapist has at least 5 years experience in the adolescent treatment industry, in both wilderness and residential settings;

· Pioneered the now-standard philosophy of Transition (rather than "graduation") and flexible lengths of stay, needed steps for long-term stability and a more individualized intervention;

· Experience as full-time field instructors;

· Weekly Clinical Meeting between all therapists to discuss difficult or unique dynamics and to share latest research findings.

They have answers to your questions about the best way to help your struggling child. Please contact us to find answers to your questions, and to take the next step in changing your child’s life.

Second Nature has been a pioneer in wilderness treatment by providing more individualized treatment planning and consequently creating flexible lengths of stay based upon treatment need and related family circumstances. The entry-level length of stay is 6 weeks, while the average length of stay is 6-8 weeks. Maximum lengths of stay can be as long as 12-14 weeks (in extenuating circumstances).

At the outset, boundaries focused around appropriate behaviors are emphasized until students begin to exhibit stability and put aside their traditional defense mechanisms (intense arguing, shutting down, passive-aggressive communication, psychological or literal running away, etc.). As students show increasing consistency a shift is made from a focus upon accountability to engagement in self-care. This process emphasizes the integration of functional behavior with more effective emotional expression, stronger inter-personal skills and a more positive self-concept. Finally, a major emphasis of treatment at Second Nature is realistic preparation for various levels of continuing treatment and structure (ranging from development of contingencies for returning home to continued placement in a residential level of care). Second Nature’s therapists work closely with families, home therapists and future treatment team members to create a thorough plan for each student and family.


Along with our mission to provide the most effective therapeutic intervention, Second Nature also provides the model for physical safety and preparedness for the backcountry. Students are issued high quality technical outdoor gear to ensure safety in the broad range of anticipated environmental conditions.

Second Nature Wilderness Program’s emphasis upon safety also includes the use of satellite phones as the primary form of communication between student groups, support staff and therapists (virtually all other wilderness programs use radios and cell phones – which can fail to provide 24 hour communication). Every student is visited in the field by the medical team every 2 weeks (3 at Blue Ridge), to assure ongoing health and safety of all participants, and potable water is trucked in 5 times a week. Though state licensing only requires training in First Aid and CPR, every group has at least one Wilderness First Responder (the certification below EMT) with our students at all times.

Although the invaluable atmosphere of the wilderness combined with our sophisticated therapy compels long-term change, Second Nature also realizes that the wilderness can be unpredictable and, therefore, dangerous. Because of this, Second Nature continues to take every precaution and prepare and train for any circumstance to provide the highest level of safety.

Second Nature Wilderness Program is NOT a boot camp for troubled teens. In fact, Second Nature Wilderness Program strongly disputes the enduring efficacy of any boot camp program for troubled youth: boot camps, by design, are behavior modification paradigms, using coercion and hardship to negatively reinforce appropriate behavior.

Second Nature offers help to families with troubled teens, ages 13 to 17 years old, who struggle with a variety of emotional and behavioral issues such as teen depression, oppositional defiant disorder, and learning disabilities. These issues negatively affect school performance, socialization, self-esteem, and resilience. Typical students have suffered from low self-esteem, teen depression, substance abuse, isolated themselves, expect instant gratification, or act entitled. They have often been found to be self-medicating, are battling with parent-child conflict and failing to respond to limits and rules. Our educated and experienced admissions counselors will help both you and your child understand the treatment process specific to your teen.

Second Nature Wilderness Program has clinical experience and success with:

Teen Depression
Learning Differences
Processing Disorder (Visual, Auditory)
Oppositional Defiant Disorder
Mild Eating Disorder Treatment
Attention Deficit Disorder
Gender Specific Issues
Self-Mutilation Treatment (Cutting)
Reactive Attachment Disorder Treatment (Attachment Disorder)
Social skill deficits: non-verbal learning disorders and Asperger’s traits (or PDD)
Substance Abuse Programs

Second Nature incorporates experiential education about local history, environmental issues, geology, psychology, health and writing assignments with daily programming.

WillowCreek School, an affiliate of Second Nature, has developed curriculum which both gives students credit for the work they are doing and helps get them back in the mainstream of academics, including the assessment piece that is often missing from Wilderness Programs about how students do with academic challenges. Two academic credits will be issued to students enrolling in all the programs.

The objectives of Wilderness Treatment (as defined by Second Nature) are threefold: clinical treatment, natural observation & assessment, and preparation for long-term solutions. This explanation begins to highlight the variables that make wilderness therapy efficacious, and even more specifically, why Second Nature has emerged as the premier wilderness therapy program.

Remoteness/Free from distractions/defenses

The thing a child realizes when he enters the wilderness is that the distractions he has adapted to are not present. The remoteness of the backcountry provides the child with little to hide behind and funnels his or her energies in such a way that intervention is effectively focused on those areas that are present. Although many students are savvy and can demonstrate high functioning, the rawness of the environment tends to evoke patterns and dynamics parallel to the behaviors that led to their enrollment at Second Nature. Additionally, the group experience facilitates that the child respond to peers and adults without his or her using their familiar escape routes of shutting down, running away, or other oft used responses to confrontation and accountability.


First, nature is unrelenting, cannot be negotiated with or manipulated. Students at Second Nature will experience the natural lessons that life has to offer by living in the context of the natural environment. Second, the staff, therapist, and peers (the groups operate in open-ended groups with students at various stages of treatment) are experts at holding boundaries and creating natural and logical consequences that mirror the lessons that are needed in the broader journey of life. And finally, the parents are provided with support coaching and the distance necessary to create and reestablish healthy patterns for communication and behavior (communication begins with letter writing and can sometimes include family therapy phone calls). Thus, the experience becomes the “immovable object” and your child is left to experience the futility of his or her old coping strategies or to adapt, utilizing new tools and insights.


The use of metaphor is recognized as the most effective way in bypassing a client’s natural resistance and defenses in therapy; fundamentally, wilderness therapy is a rich field for metaphors. Teachers’ lessons and religious texts alike are filled with allegory, parables, fables, and symbols due to the effectiveness of their use in teaching lessons that match the various levels of insight and resistance of the student. Therapeutic metaphor has always been associated with bypassing resistance in therapy: Freud and others utilized dreams, hypnosis, and other metaphorically rich interventions because the defense of the conscious does not easily recognize the layers of the metaphor and thus the messages and lessons can be incorporated. Think for example on those things that the adolescents reject, apparently without rationale or reason that could be of benefit to their lives: for instance, the drop-out who rejects education and is not receptive to lectures from parents on the value of education in the well-rounded life. Yet, that same child might be open to listening at the foot of a wilderness counselor while she teaches the value of preparation, study, natural science and so forth because these directly relate to the skills of camping and survival. Or the adolescent who lacks discipline or work ethic, yet is willing to spend hours harvesting materials, preparing the bow-drill set and working to create fire using the Native American Bow-drill technique. A very important and often neglected part of this process is that the wilderness therapy team must be skilled in decoding the metaphor so that the stories make practical sense for assessment and aftercare planning. Without this translation, consultants, schools and parents are left wondering the value of such lessons (bow-drill fires, group ceremonies and initiatives, making a flute, participation in a Native American solo, even backpacking, etc.) as they pertain to everyday life.


Perhaps most obvious is the experiential value of wilderness therapy. Parents often refer to their child’ ability to manipulate or say what s/he thinks others want to hear. The experiential aspect of the wilderness program allows the therapist to require more than just lip service or promises for change. The child must perform and behave and live the change. The narrow experience of the wilderness group becomes a microcosm from which the child and the therapist can extrapolate the lessons and experiences to broader contexts of living. The child will often unconsciously recreate, however subtly, the same type of relationships, patterns, symptoms and dynamics she did at home and the therapist can use these characteristics to help the child first see the problem in this new light, and then change using new insights and skills.

Oregon Wilderness

Graduation ceremonies include family.

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Wilderness Programs


How We Can Help Your Family

Discriminating among the many programs or evaluating the effectiveness of your child's current program can be a daunting challenge. The Professionals we work with provide consultation to families with a personal approach. You are assured that you are in good hands.

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