This testimony was found Reddit. All rights go to the original author known as tobyhztheg
Not to long ago I was sent to one of the many wilderness programs out in Utah. While there was some good therapy and help I received there there’s lots of silenced negatives that come with it and the industry as a whole.
I was there for about 14 weeks. If your wondering I was gooned or “transported” as the like to say. First of I’ll start with the fact that them calling this morally questionable service a “transport service” is pretty dehumanizing on top of the whole experience. It’s like we are simply a object being brought somewhere when we are human beings as well. My experience with being gooned was nothing out of the ordinary or too interesting. Just the normal 2 bouncer sized men coming in my room at 3am and taking me away. Although I’ve heard other rough experiences with this practice from my peers while I was at the program. One told me about how when he walked towards his mom too try to tell her goodbye he was tackled to the ground and handcuffed. During this restraint he had his lat re-Injured from a injury he was recovering from and in PT for months for. He was given next to no medical attention while he was at the program. He hiked 4 days a week with a 40+ pound backpack and was told to stretch and sometimes was given ibuprofen. Another story I heard was from my student mentor at the program. He explained how in the car ride his goons recalled and laughed about a time they beat a kid up, kicked his head, and dragged his bloody self into the car. This shows there are some legitimately sick people in this job and it makes me question the morals of these companies even more. Another student told me about when he was spending a night in a hotel with his goons. His goons asked him to spit out his gum, he told them no and they beat the living shit out of him, tackling him, punching him, and even repeatedly stomping on his head. There’s many more stories I have but I’ll keep it to that.
My experience and wilderness therapy was often agonizing, depressing and mad me feel like a inferior prisoner sometimes. I had to either count or call my name every time I shat in a hole or pissed in the woods. I couldn’t have a single conversation without a thing called “ears”. This is a non negotiable rule that a staff must be present to listen in on a conversation between 2 students or more at all times. They would completely shut the conversation down if it wasn’t deemed “therapeutic”. If you ever argued it would get you nothing. This felt like one of the many invasions of any privacy. Having monitored and censored discussions for more than 3 months got old really quick. Whenever we would speak up about any of the ridiculous rules and vented about or hard times at the program to each other we were constantly reminded by staff that it is our fault for being here and these are the consequences of our actions. This essentially made the rules untouchable and not up for debate. Staff also reminded us often about our “privileged” lives specifically our white privilege which basically made us feel like we had no right to have any sort of pity of ourselves or our peers. All of our lives at the program were constantly rendered back to it being our faults. Me and almost everyone came to the conclusion early on that we essentially had to robots to the therapists, staff and the program. Do what your told, bite your tounge and don’t complain. I found the most success in basically being a complete yes man the whole time. The outspoken ones never succeeded there. I also want to talk a bit about abuse of power. There was this one day where a kid was refusing to wear his face mask (covid reasons ofc) because he saw staff the other night being very close to each other and not wearing them. After refusing for about a minute to staff came over to him and tackled him to the ground. One of them shoved his face in the dirt while he yanked the kids arm and shoulder back while he was screaming in pain. For almost all of it they were being physical while he wasn’t even resisting. What really suprised me about this situation was that earlier on in my stay when a kid litterally physically attacked me all staff did was grab his arm and walk him away so clearly the amount of force in the mask situation was beyond excessive.
Often at the program we did much more physical labor and hiking than actually therapy while staff would bullshit us and say “hiking is therapy”. Litterally we had 1 therapy session a week for about 30 minutes when the therapists came once a week.
I also want to describe some of the lack of medical attention I received there. Throughout my stay I consistently had violent diarrhea. Looking back it’s not surprising because of the often rotten vegetables, and cleaning all of our cups out with dirt. (This next part could be disturbing) There was one week in which it was the worst. The whole week I was having such violent diarrhea that it god to a point where I was shitting so violently that I cut open the inside of my anus. All the shitty “med team” would do is give me a bad diarrhea medicine and sometimes tums when it was bad enough. It was litterally hell. A staff accused me of faking my diarrhea to get out of chores, hiking etc.
Sorry for the long post I might make a Pt 2 later. If you actually read through this thank you for hearing a little bit about my experience
My experience and my peers experience at Wilderness Therapy (Reddit)