About the Program

What is Wilderness Therapy?

The Transpersonal Wilderness Therapy concentration provides students with experience in such areas as counseling psychology, wilderness skills, ecopsychology, adventure therapy, wilderness therapy, group dynamics, and outdoor leadership. There are four core areas that comprise the Wilderness Therapy program:

  1. Clinical and theoretical course work required for licensure in most states;
  2. Training in wilderness skills and therapeutic interventions;
  3. Contemplative practice and body awareness practice throughout the program;
  4. Extensive professional experience during the required nine-month internship.

The beauty of the landscapes in which we travel, Boulder’s progressive community and the transformative Naropa University environment make graduate training here an unparalleled learning experience.

Gain Experience with...

Ecopsychology: Explores and develops the relationship between humans and the rest of nature.

Adventure Therapy: Utilizes outdoor challenges as a means for therapeutic change, often in a group setting.

Clinical Course Work: Involves hands-on practice with counseling skills.

Expressive Therapies: Uses creative expression, such as art or music, for healing in the therapeutic process.

Rites of Passage: A multi-day vision fast and ceremony at the end of two years of course work to mark the transition into the third-year. The second year of Wilderness Therapy includes extensive outdoor expeditions integrating classroom learning and hands-on experience. We address the therapeutic use of rock climbing, initiatives, canyons, rivers, equine therapy, horticulture, and rites of passage.

Applicants to the Transpersonal Wilderness Therapy program share a love of the natural world, enjoy spending time outside and have the desire to help others. They share a sense of awe and respect for nature and understand how the natural world can help humans be healthy and whole. At the same time, applicants have a variety of backgrounds and experiences. Some have studied tracking and primitive skills; others have spent years working with horses, while others have a wealth of experience traveling in remote backcountry settings. Some applicants have already worked in counseling settings while others have taught environmental education to grade school children or outdoor education in organizations such as Outward Bound. Our program is selective, which allows us to bring together a dynamic student body made of individuals whose life experiences are valuable contributions to the learning environment. The community spirit and friendships that develop encourage authenticity and create safety for the full development of one’s capacities.


The typical class of Wilderness Therapy students includes a wide range of people from all over the United States and, some years, from Canada or other countries. In the past, students have ranged in age from early twenties to mid fifties, while the majority of students have been between twenty-five and forty. The number of men has been one-third to half the class. All students must meet a certain level of physical ability and medical health, which allow them to participate in the back-country field sections. For more information on required physical condition and the medical forms needed to be admitted into the Transpersonal Wilderness Therapy Program, please see How to Apply.

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This is where experiential learning meets academic rigor. Where you challenge your intellect and uncover your potential. Where you discover the work you’re moved to do—then use it to transform our world.

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