Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Gilbert Mazer

Second Advisor

Dr. Bob Betz

Third Advisor

Dr. Sid Dykstra


The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of a 26-day therapeutic wilderness program for delinquent adolescent males on three conceptually distinct but closely related constructs: self-concept, locus of control orientation, and interpersonal behavior. Justification for the study was derived from the limitations of past wilderness/adventure research which suggested that there was a need for additional research on the effects of this type of alternative program for delinquent adolescents.

It was hypothesized that following participation in this program the youths would exhibit increased self-concept, more internal locus of control orientation, would express higher needs for inclusion and affection and a lower need for control, and would display more socially adaptive interpersonal behaviors.

In order to examine the research questions, three self-report inventories were administered to 43 adjudicated delinquent male adolescents participating in this program which serves as an alternative to traditional detention treatment. A sample of 45 male delinquents in a traditional detention program served as a comparison group. In addition to the pretest, posttest, and follow-up self-report data, behavioral observations were obtained from the instructors of the wilderness courses.

The results of this study failed to show a significant treatment effect on any of the primary dependent variables. The lack of a significant effect on the self-concept and locus of control variables was attributed primarily to apparent exaggeration and inaccurate self-report by the subjects in both samples. While there was no statistically significant effect on the three measures of interpersonal need, the results of the behavioral observations by the group leaders indicated that the participants learned more socially appropriate behaviors as a result of the experience (were observed to communicate more effectively, be more responsible and sociable, and possess higher self-esteem).

It was suggested that future researchers might continue to study these variables, especially the interpersonal effects of participation. It was also suggested that qualitative research methods and research on specific program variables would be appropriate.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access