Clinical First Responder™ TRAINING CURRICULUM

The Clinical First Responder™ training consists of two 4-day training modules. The training covers a variety of psychological, emotional, and behavioral issues and teaches the skills necessary to effectively respond to them. The CFR is a hands-on training experience with exercises and scenarios used to provide opportunities for immediate application of the skills being learned. This training format ensures that participants integrate the newly acquired knowledge and skills into their work .

The CFR training was designed by wilderness treatment field staff (turned Psychologists) for field staff and was piloted at Naropa University and revamped based on feedback from field staff participants representing wilderness treatment programs throughout the country.

The CFR training includes:

  • Wilderness Therapy/Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare and Adventure Therapy as a method of treatment and an industry.
  • What does the research tell us about wilderness therapy?
  • Adolescent development: what is the norm?
  • Clinical assessment: What is a diagnosis and how is it made? Overview of DSM IV and multi-axis diagnosis.
  • Review of most common adolescent diagnoses e.g., ADHD, Bipolar, Depression, Substance Abuse, etc.
  • Ethical practice and guidelines regarding: roles, boundaries, self disclosure, and more.
  • Field staff's role in assessment, treatment planning, and ongoing care.
  • Understanding the change process and increasing motivation for change.
  • Recognizing signs and symptoms of trauma and how to respond effectively.
  • Abuse disclosure and issues related to the reporting of abuse.
  • Suicidality: what are the signs and how to respond.
  • Crisis counseling and de-escalation techniques
  • Addiction and detoxification issues.
  • Techniques for developing a therapeutic alliance.
  • Recognizing the goals of misbehavior and responding effectively.
  • Identifying cognitive distortions and how to intervene.
  • Practical tools for anger management.
  • Introduction to group dynamics and group development.
  • Initiative activities for facilitating group development.
  • Diversity issues and sensitivities.
  • Role of the family in adolescent mental health.
  • Working with the family in wilderness therapy programs.
  • Communications with clinical staff and how to implement back-up support for mental health issue.
  • Fatalities in the field: what can we learn?
  • Instructor judgement as a risk management tool.
  • How to stay physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy in the demanding role of wilderness field staff


CFR Training Modules >>>

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“I think the Clinical First Responder is an empowering course for anyone working in the field of wilderness therapy.  There is new information to obtain as well as validation and fine tuning of the information one already has.  The course offers a neutral space for professionals in all kinds of therapeutic programs to support each other and share new ideas and energy.  I have sent many of our field instructors (and was lucky to be able to attend a course myself)...Our folks come back with re-charged batteries and a more confident approach to their work."

Jody St. Joseph
Field Director,
Second Nature Entrada




"This training deepened my understanding
in various areas of wilderness therapy, expanded
my toolbox, and best of all...we had fun!!!"

Emily Weer, Second Nature Wilderness Program
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