Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology


The purpose of this study was fourfold: (a) to empirically evaluate the correlation between perceived psychosocial stressors (expressed concerns), immature defense styles, dysfunctional personality patterns, clinical syndromes, and maladaptive behaviors, as measured by the Millon Adolescent Clinical Inventory (MACI), Defense Style Questionnaire-40 (DSQ-40), and Youth Outcome Questionnaire-2.0 (YOQ); (b) to look at how wilderness therapy affects the expressed concerns, immature defense styles, clinical syndromes, dysfunctional personality patterns, and maladaptive behaviors of troubled adolescents; (c) to see if subjects whose post-test defense styles change improve more than subjects whose defense styles remain the same or get worse; and (d) to begin to identify the types of Axes I and II disorders for which wilderness therapy is most effective. Statistically significant correlations were found between Immature Defense and Expressed Concerns scores, Immature Defense and Clinical Syndromes scores, Expressed Concerns and Dysfunctional Personality Patterns scores, and Clinical Syndromes and Dysfunctional Personality Patterns scores. Wilderness therapy resulted in statistically significant improvement on Immature Defense and Maladaptive Behavior scores, and on the Expressed Concerns, Dysfunctional Personality Patterns, and Clinical Syndromes scores of subjects. Wilderness therapy appears to show considerable breadth, and promise, as a treatment modality for adolescents with clinical concerns on Axes I, II, and IV. Perhaps the most striking finding of this study is that wilderness therapy appears to facilitate positive character change in adolescents with clinically elevated MACI Personality Patterns scores. Short-term interventions leading to character change are virtually unheard of in the personality literature. Future research is needed to determine whether wilderness therapy is effective for treating budding personality disorders.