The treatment of mental health and substance abuse issues typically involve some form of managed health care. Approaches to managing care for clients require specialized knowledge, specific treatment skills, and prescriptive strategies. The field serving these clients is often identified as behavioral healthcare. Companies serving clients in the coverage and management of mental health and substance abuse care involves more than 100 million Americans (SAMHSA, 2012; Trabin & Freeman, 1995).
The following standards have been written specifically for Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare (OBH) programs. OBH programming can be defined as the prescriptive use of wilderness experiences by licensed mental health professionals to meet the therapeutic needs of clients.
OBH consists of:
Extended backcountry travel and wilderness living experiences long enough to allow for clinical assessment, establishment of treatment goals, and a reasonable course of treatment not to exceed the productive impact of the experience,
Active and direct use of clients’ participation and responsibility in their therapeutic process,
Continuous group-living and regular formal group therapy sessions to foster teamwork and social interactions (excluding solo experiences),
Individual therapy sessions, which may be supported by the inclusion of family therapy,
Adventure experiences utilized to appropriately enhance treatment by fostering the development of eustress (i.e., the positive use of stress) as a beneficial element in the therapeutic experience,
The use of nature in reality as well as a metaphor within the therapeutic process, and;
A strong ethic of care and support throughout the therapeutic experience.
What is accreditation?
"Accreditation is a voluntary process of evaluation that credits an organization with adhering to a prescribed set of professional practices or standards. Accreditation attempts to serve at least three interests: the public, the industry and the organization under review. The public's interests include having quality services from which to choose; having an objective, independent source of information about those services; and having a reasonable indication of the quality of those services. Industry interests include safeguarding the reputation of the field, elevating the practices of the field, self-governance, advocating for its members, and providing avenues for continuing education and professional development. The organization interests are many and include providing leadership to the field, improving the quality and performance of programs, preserving access to federal lands, preserving access to affordable insurance, and increasing the ability to attract financial and human resources.
While accreditation is an endorsement of an organization by some authority, this endorsement has limits. Accreditation is a finding that an organization has met, or appears to meet, specific requirements or standards as of a certain date and does not represent continuing compliance. These requirements are usually contained in a published standards document such as the Manual of Accreditation Standards for Adventure Programs published by AEE. Procedures for reporting significant changes in the organization and compliance with standards are the responsibility of the organization. The authority to grant or deny accreditation rests with an officially sanctioned, impartial group known as the AEE Accreditation Council (Accreditation Manual, 5th Edition, p. 2).
For more information about AEE acreditation, click here.
Why OBH Accreditation?
OBH accreditation provides impartial validation that your program meets or exceeds standards that have been developed exclusively for outdoor behavioral healthcare programs.
Accredited OBH programs have demonstrated that they operate above industry standards of ethical care, treatment evaluation, and risk-management practices.
OBH accreditation is solid evidence of a program’s commitment to quality and adherence to professional standards.
The newly designed OBH accreditation from AEE represents another milestone in a rapidly evolving field. OBH accreditation will become THE standard by which all future OBH programs will be measured.
Contact us for further information about the OBH Accreditation application process.
AEE-OBH Accredited Programs