The WinGate Difference

The WinGate Difference

Unlike most wilderness-based treatment programs, WinGate does not use level systems, group consequences, or any other behavior-modification techniques. That’s because these techniques do not create lasting change.

Instead, WinGate seeks the kind of internally motivated change that relies upon a profound therapeutic alliance between the client and the therapeutic team. This kind of alliance requires a staff that is creative, caring, authentically engaged, and exhaustively trained. Most importantly, though, it requires a deep and genuine respect for our clients.

How Do We Know Our Approach Works?

Not only is alliance-based therapy validated by extensive clinical research, but it’s also validated by our own experience with hundreds of clients. We watch young people make profound life changes on a daily basis.

Why Doesn't Everyone Do It This Way?

Alliance-based therapy is extremely difficult to do! When faced with highly resistant clients, even experienced clinicians instinctively seek control, compliance, and behavioral change.

That’s why so many programs—whether outpatient, wilderness-based or residential—rely on level systems and other behavioral approaches that are designed to compel, rather than inspire, change

This kind of change does not last because it depends upon environmental factors that disappear once treatment is over. We seek internally motivated change—the kind that lasts a lifetime.

Who We Are

WinGate was founded by a team of experienced wilderness therapists and treatment - industry leaders who were dissatisfied with the wilderness therapy options available to teens and young adults.

We are unified in our conviction that all people must feel respected, valued, safe, and in control of the changes they make for those changes to last. They must transform from the inside out, not the outside in.

This is the power of WinGate.


Typical Day for WinGate Wilderness Experience

A Typical Week for WinGate wilderness experience is exciting, refreshing, and awesome. Almost every day, time is set aside for the student to have time to create and practice your own morning routine of contemplation, meditation, or prayer.

The place where this is done we call 'personal circles.' You will have opportunities to do therapy assignments, reading, and other work during Personal Mentoring Time (PMT), which also happens every day.

PMT is also a time for staff to check in with students personally. Students will keep track of what they do every day and get in the habit of setting goals during 'Day Track.' They choose what they will listen to, participate in, and sometimes conduct 'WindSpeaks' (Group Discussions) on topics that will help them become more mentally and emotionally self-aware.

And they will get the chance to make primitive wilderness living things like spoons, fire, moccasins, leather goods, and maybe even a bow and arrows. Interspersed in all of this will be recovery work and recovery meetings that focus their attention on what they came to the wilderness to work on.

Mondays and Tuesdays are typical 'layover days.' On these days, the group doesn't hike. These are also the therapy days- your therapist will come out to do individual sessions and therapy groups. This is also the time when current staff rotates out and the new staff rotates in.

Layover days are a good opportunity to make goals for, and prepare for the week, make items, finish letters to parents, work on therapeutic assignments tailored specifically to you, and to otherwise get things done without having a hike as part of the day.

The rest of the days of the week are typical "hiking days." On these days, the group packs up camp and hikes to a new camp. There are chores to attend to in cleaning up camp and in setting up the new site. Hikes vary in length according to the capabilities of the group members, the weather, and the season.

Much of what can be accomplished on the non-hiking days can also be done on the hiking days as well.

Typical Day

  • Wakeup
  • Personal Circles
  • Day Track
  • Recovery Meeting
  • Hygiene
  • Breakfast
  • Camp Cleanup
  • Hike
  • Setup Personal Sites
  • PMT / Skills
  • Hygiene
  • Dinner
  • Windspeak
  • Bed