Proven Effectiveness

Blackwater Outdoor Experiences is committed to constant improvement and accountability through research and assessment. Through routine outcome monitoring utilizing the Youth Outcome Questionnaire (Y-OQ) and taking time as a treatment team to debrief each expedition we work to ensure that our students are provided an elite level of care. We guarantee that from the moment you call us onward we will be diligent in assisting you in processing information, making informed decisions, and making sure that you and your loved one are cared for taking feedback and adjusting as we can to best suit everyone’s needs.

Current Research

Since 2015 we have been working with Dr. Catherine Franssen, Assistant Professor of Psychology, and the Director of NeuroStudies Minor at Longwood University. Through the collection of spit samples at various points throughout our 22 Day Therapeutic Wilderness Expeditions, Dr. Franssen has been specifically researching the changes of stress hormones cortisol and DHEA related to the amount of time spent in the wilderness. We look forward to sharing the results with you and the rest of the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare industry as they are available.

Check out Dr. Catherine Franssen’s Longwood University Blog

Prior Research

Continuous program outcome monitoring has been a part of the Blackwater Outdoor Experiences model and started with a collaboration with the University of Georgia in 2007.

In collaboration with the University of Georgia we worked to research the effectiveness of our 22-day Wilderness Therapy program. Early results from three program groups over the summer of 2007 showed significant levels of change on several mental health measures. Program participants and a parent/guardian were asked to complete versions of the Youth Outcome Questionnaire (Y-OQ) on the first and final day of the program. The Y-OQ was specifically designed to detect and track changes in functioning levels over time as a result of participation in a therapeutic intervention. The Y-OQ provides a score between -16 and 240 with lower scores indicating higher levels of functioning. Changes of 18 points for participants and 13
points for parents/guardians are considered clinically significant. Program participants went from an average of 61.0 points at the beginning to 7.2 points at the end of the course for an average improvement of 53.8 points (or almost three times the clinically significant mark).
Parent/guardians went from an average score of 91.2 points to 58.5 points at the end of the program for an average improvement of 32.7 points (or over two times the clinically significant mark).