Dr. Will White

AIRED:  April 15, 2013– 11 am PST



TITLE: “History and Effectiveness of Wilderness Programs”


Read More “Summit Achievement”

Dr. White discusses with Allen the various origins of wilderness therapy, starting with a New England summer camp founded in the 1880s, the Salesmanship Club of Dallas founded in 1944, modifications from the Boy Scouts and Outward Bound and early experiments in primitive survival skills by Larry Dean Olsen and Ezekial Sanchez at Brigham Young University in the early 1970s.

In his dissertation, “Stories from the Elders: Chronicles and Narratives of the Early Years of Wilderness Therapy, he chacterizes the early pioneer Larry Wells in the 1970s as the “Johnny Appleseed” of modern wilderness therapy since he was a key consultant to the development of many of the successful and leading early wilderness therapy programs.

A condensed version of White’s dissertation the topic is now available as a chapter in the newly published book, Adventure Therapy: Theory, Research, and Practice. The Authors state: “While several authors have written about the history of adventure/wilderness therapy, no one else has gone to the level of depth, accuracy, or original sources as Dr. White. We commend him for his diligence in understanding this area and fairly representing both the positive as well as negative elements of the field’s evolution.”


Dr. Will White provides clinical supervision and consultation to the clinical team, and provides mentorship to Summit’s planning team. He has been helping adolescents and their families find solutions to their challenges for over 30 years. Dr. White has been dually licensed as a Clinical Social Worker and as an Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor since 1989. As a mental health professional, he has practiced in a variety of treatment settings including boarding schools, residential treatment programs, mental health centers, public schools and private practice.

Dr. White is a nationally recognized expert in the field of adventure/wilderness theory. His doctoral dissertation, which traced the evolution of wilderness therapy through critical leaders and incidents, has been cited as the most comprehensive scholarly work on the history of the field to date.

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