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For the last few years, mental health treatment and recovery have broadened their use of therapeutic interventions. Every therapeutic intervention has something unique to offer in terms of healing. 

One of these new, modern avenues of treatment is called adventure therapy. Adventure therapy is a form of psychotherapy that combines nature, community, and exciting exercises. Adventure therapy is an evidence-based intervention and effective for improving many areas of an individual’s functioning. 

How Does Adventure Therapy Work?

Adventure therapy promotes growth and rehabilitation in many areas of life. It enhances an individual’s ability to engage in personal reflection, communication with others, and even conflict resolution presented in real-time. 

Adventure therapy highlights the use of daring exercises and activities within an environment to motivate and elicit change. Adventure therapy is typically experienced in a group setting. These exercises promote cooperative games that involve trust, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills among many other things. 

After each activity is completed, the group of participants debrief the experience together, reflecting on the different processes used to complete the activity. A debrief is led by a facilitator, where the facilitator motivates and guides participants to internalize their own experience from the activity or help to relate it to therapeutic goals. 

Some activities that may be used in adventure therapy might include:

  • Kayaking
  • Camping
  • Canoeing
  • Mountain Biking
  • Swimming
  • Hiking
  • Rock climbing
  • Skiing

The Benefits of Adventure Therapy

If you have never heard of or experienced adventure therapy before, you might wonder about its potential benefits. Every activity will produce different benefits. Benefits may be subjective and vary from person to person, although there are many objective benefits that are likely to result from adventure therapy activities. 

For example, consider rock climbing. Rock climbing is a challenging activity on its own, especially for those who do not causally rock climb in their daily life. Like every activity, rock climbing can help to foster problem-solving skills. 

Very few participants will ever reach the top of a rock-climbing wall without falling a few times first. Even if they do reach the top, there are ways to challenge participants, such as making them go a different route than they used before. 

Even before beginning the activity, climbers know that falling is a part of the experience. Every time they get back up and start climbing again, they not only learn something about the climb, but they learn to be resilient when they make mistakes in life as well. If someone fears the activity right from the beginning, much can be said about them even considering to attempt the activity.

Several other benefits for adventure therapy, at large, include:

  • It allows individuals to experience the healing properties of nature. Being surrounded by nature can reduce levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. This is because taking in our environment, especially nature, can help us to get out of our heads and focus on something positive and beautiful. 
  • It can help individuals to build positive relationships. Partnership activities can help people to learn how to communicate in a healthy way. Especially with activities that require trust, it is important that each participant learns how to rely on and cooperate with their partner. This translates well into establishing healthy relationships outside of therapy likewise. 
  • It can make treatment more engaging for both a therapist and a client. People become disengaged with treatment for a variety of reasons. Most of the time, people do not find sitting with a therapist and talking about their problems to be very appealing. Adventure therapy promotes greater engagement for a client in therapy, which is essential for success in treatment and recovery. 
  • It encourages a greater sense of responsibility and purpose. In this generation, lives are ruled by technology and social media. It’s no wonder why people struggle to connect with a deeper meaning and purpose! Adventure therapy encourages people to establish a greater level of responsibility for themselves and for their lives. 
  • It increases resiliency. As mentioned during the rock climbing scenario, adventure therapy does wonders in increasing a person’s resiliency. As participants make mistakes or fall during their adventure activity, they are taught to not give up. They are encouraged by their facilitators and fellow participants to get back up when they stumble, even when they get hurt. 
  • It encourages identity development. Through the use of different therapeutic activities and correlated debriefs, a participant will learn more about themselves. They will learn what they liked or didn’t like, as well as characteristics about themselves that they might not learn as quickly in traditional psychotherapy treatment. Adventure therapy involves active participation of the mind and body, which is helpful for identity development.

Adventure therapy is a modern form of psychotherapy that combines daring adventures with communication and group interaction. It is a unique approach to mental health treatment and recovery as it stimulates both the mind and body simultaneously. Adventure therapy relies on the use of challenging activities, such as rock climbing or mountain biking, to instill characteristics like cooperation, trust, and resilience into participants. There are several notable benefits of adventure therapy, especially because it focuses on experiencing the healing benefits that nature already can produce on it’s own. West Coast Recovery Centers uses adventure therapy as one of our many unique therapeutic interventions. We offer both holistic and traditional treatment options to help individualize each client’s treatment experience. No matter where you are on your treatment journey, it is important that you find therapeutic interventions that help you stay engaged and excited about healing. Call West Coast (760) 492-6509 today. 

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