ATCPCC 2013 – Jennifer Graham on Second Nature’s Wilderness Programs

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Today we would like to share with you a video from our annual ATCPCC 2013, Addiction Treatment Centers and Professional Consortium. Here in our guest lecture video series is Jennifer Graham sharing about Second Nature Wilderness Programs. We have a transcript of the lecture for you to follow:

Hi. My name is Jennifer Graham. I work with Second Nature Wilderness Programs. We’re located in Utah, Oregon, and Georgia. My position with Second Nature changes a bit, but basically day to day I do about a third of my time is networking, outreach, letting people know about the program. I helped create and implement the parent programming, so I run parent — nationwide parent support groups, help with the webinars, and then about a third of the time is being in the field with the young adults and with the students and being out there with the staff and bringing people to visit the program.

I happened upon wilderness, this wilderness therapy that I never even dreamed existed, but it just felt intuitively right, and I probably referred, you know, a couple of hundred families to wilderness programs and Second Nature, in particular. And what I loved about it was that it felt like there was true internal shifts. It wasn’t about a behavior change that was for somebody else. These kids started to feel better about themselves, and I tell parents now if you wake up in the morning and you look in the mirror and you don’t like what you see, you don’t make good decisions. You know, none of us do. If you go to school, which is your job as a teenager, and you’re bad at it, you don’t want to go back. So I like that getting back to nature was getting back to ourselves with a very talented clinician and kind of a jury of your peers, ten people that are just like you.

And what I realized was now moving from being a consultant to being independent to working with Second Nature was that there was these two camps out there. There was the addiction world, and then there was the therapeutic world, and they didn’t really mix very well. It was the belief, I think, on both sides, erroneously, that you couldn’t do great therapeutics in an addiction program, coming from the – and you couldn’t do great addiction work in a therapeutic program, that they were separate, and I just didn’t believe it. And it was really, really frustrating for me. It was really frustrating, and now that I’m with Second Nature and have planned and implemented a lot of our recovery work in the last four years, they always did it, and they always did it well, and now we do true recovery in the woods. We do 12 Step focus groups. We have staff in recovery. We have therapists in recovery. We have kids – I mean, Step 1 in the wilderness, you know, you can’t avoid it, you know. You look around and you are infinitesimal compared to something greater than yourself. We don’t have to fight it. We don’t have to – a lot of times when I was working in residential treatment, the young people would come up against God in the 12 Steps, right, or I’m powerless, and it just gave them another thing to fight against. And in the wilderness, we don’t even – we don’t even have to convince them of that or even suggest it more than once [be]cause they live it. They live the higher power concept every day. They live that there has to be something greater than myself and the spirituality aspect of that.

And so now I’m really wetted and committed to – and I work for a company that allows this – to really help educate addiction programs, you know, what they might be missing in that and how to implement and use wilderness therapy and Second Nature with their clients before, during, and after so that they can get the best of both. You know, we can’t take them to 12 Step meetings. We can run them in the woods, but that’s what the kids call Front Country. That’s when they come back, right? So we have to prepare them for that, and I really do want to lead the charge in helping people understand that you can get that in the wilderness. You can get true recovery, the beginning of true recovery in the wilderness and the beginning of the 12-Step process and spirituality in the wilderness.

So I’m hoping that some of this touched something in you, and if you or somebody you know, a loved one, are looking for an experience like this or just want to know more about it, please look us up on the Internet at www.snwp.com – that stands for Second Nature Wilderness Program – take a look at the website. It’s amazing, and I hope that we hear from you.

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