People face various problems all the time. As the problems differ, so do the solutions. However, there is a type of treatment that is unique among all other forms of treatment, this is known as adventure therapy. Adventure therapy is a unique kind of therapy and judging from recent research and studies, it has proven to be quite effective. Even with its success, it might still be a new term to some people, as they may never have heard about it, or how it works.
WHAT IS ADVENTURE THERAPY?
This is a form of psychotherapy that utilizes natural environments to help people find relief from social, behavioral, and cognitive disorders. In simpler terms, adventure therapy uses nature to heal people.
It is a form of therapy that involves different types of adventures; most of them conducted outdoors. Even though adventure therapy can also be carried out indoors, adventure therapy as the name implies mostly involves outdoor activities like hiking, camping, rock climbing, and other forms of outdoor cooperative activities. These activities are carried out under the care and guidance of mental health professionals, who make sure that participants are actively involved in the treatment.
HISTORY OF ADVENTURE THERAPY
The use of adventure therapy as a form of treatment dates back in history to Jewish, Christians, Native American and many other traditions. The most common type of adventure therapy; tent therapy, became well known in the 1900s. It involved bringing out mental health patients from the hospitals and keeping them in tents on the hospital lawn. This treatment procedure proved effective as many of the people with a mental health condition showed improvement. However, after a series of studies that did not provide enough evidence to support it, the approach seemed to die down completely.
The treatment approach resurfaced in the 1930s. However, it reemerged as camping programs for youths with problems. It was this development that paved the way for the modern-day adventure therapy programs for both adults, young and old. It uses the process of observation, diagnosis, and psychotherapy to help and heal people.
Various organizations and recovery centers have taken up adventure therapy as an offered program. Some of these programs proved to help the various problems that people were going through. A good example is the creation of Outward Bound by Kurt Hahn in the 1940s, which served to control the lack of tenacity in young sailors who needed to survive the rigors of war. Another example is the Colorado Outward Bound that organized adventure therapies for people struggling with substance abuse, experiences of sexual assault, mental illness and several other issues.
ADVENTURE THERAPY; HOW DOES IT WORK?
- Boost confidence levels
People who have experienced adventure therapy have gained the ability to face their problems and addictions squarely. The experience gained from adventure therapy helps individuals overcome their emotional, behavioral and mental issues. Just like other forms of treatment, adventure therapy builds up the confidence required to kick start a healing process.
- Development of skills
Adventure therapy is not only about taking risks or doing things you’ve never done before, it also involves having fun through various activities. This medium creates the opportunity for individuals to learn new skills or improve old ones, that can prove useful in their everyday lives.
- Encourages human association
Camping, hiking and various other outdoor activities mostly involve co-operation between different people. This sets the basis for cooperative skills in individuals, and the tendency to relate more with other people. This is an important life lesson that is applicable in workplaces and other gatherings.
- Natural healing
Unlike other forms of therapy that are usually indoors, involving a session of talking with people, adventure therapy is all about spending time outdoors, in a natural environment of trees and landscape. This natural environment creates some sort of therapeutic healing that’s much more effective compared to other therapies. A breath of fresh air, the sounds, and sights of nature and its beauty can do great wonders in lifting one’s spirits, increasing general appreciation for life.
TYPES OF ADVENTURE THERAPY
- Outdoor activities like rock climbing, skiing, kayaking, etc.
- Trust activities
- Wildlife excursion like hiking, backpacking
- Cooperative activities
- Problem-solving activities etc
WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM ADVENTURE THERAPY?
Adventure therapy is not restricted to a certain group of people or a particular age group. It is beneficial to everyone with emotional, behavioral, mental or psychological problems.
People who can benefit from adventure therapy include;
- Adolescents, teens or adults with substance abuse problems
- Juvenile delinquents
- Adolescents, teens or adults with behavioral issues
- People with anger issues
- People with certain health issues
- People with anxiety problems
- People with emotional issues
- People with eating disorders
- People dealing with the loss of a loved one or who are aggrieved
- People recovering from Post Traumatic Stress disorder
- People recovering from trauma
- Teens with conduct disorder
- People or children with developmental delays or problems
- People with issues of codependency
- People with relationship problems
- People who are depressed
- Individuals with low self-esteem
- Individuals with confidence issues
- Families with conflicts
ELEMENTS OF ADVENTURE THERAPY
The primary elements of adventure therapy include:
- The therapists and professionals who are also involved in treatment procedures.
- The individuals who are in the process of receiving positive treatment through daring adventures and tasks
- The activities and events in the adventure therapy
- The experience generated from the activities
BENEFITS OF ADVENTURE THERAPY
Adventure therapy has been noted to be highly beneficial to various people with diverse problems. These benefits include:
Adventure therapy has enabled individuals with confidence and self-esteem issues to think better of themselves. With the vast experiences of the professionals on hand, individuals are involved in activities that make them feel better about themselves. It also boosts confidence levels through engagement in activities as a group or as an individual.
Promotes positive attitudes
Positive attitudes like respect for people, properties and one’s self can be developed during adventure therapy. Close association with different people from different places can make you appreciate human qualities and existence.
Greater opportunity for friendship
Adventure therapy offers people a chance to make new friends with individuals who are also there for the same purpose. It also makes you appreciate the difference between yourself and others. It helps you recognize the uniqueness of others.
There are other benefits one can derive from adventure therapy. It’s often as a result of the events and environments people get to be a part of during therapy. These benefits include;
- Understanding the consequences of inappropriate actions or behavior
- Development of team spirit
- Gaining vital life, leadership, and general skills
- Development of communication skills
- Physical, emotional, mental healing
- Therapeutic effect
- A greater sense of accomplishment
- Higher self-esteem
- Appreciation of life, nature, and people
- Ability to trust people
- Increased awareness of strengths and weaknesses
- Improvement in developmental and motor skills
- Sense of responsibility and respect
- Ability to identify inappropriate behavior and its consequences
- Better focus and concentration
- Willingness to step out of comfort zones
- Courage to face fears and challenges
- Strength to overcome obstacles and problems.
- Reduced sense of denial
Besides the benefits of adventure therapy stated above, the most important one is that it allows people to have fun. It challenges your physical, mental and intellectual abilities. This way, you get the chance to reflect on your weaknesses and determine to work on them.
EFFECTIVENESS OF ADVENTURE THERAPY
From the time adventure therapy was introduced, its effectiveness has steadily been on the rise. Working with a group and as a group helps to instill cooperative values in all of its members, and this is the primary aim of this therapy.
Adventure therapy is proven to be a highly trusted, commendable and useful form of psychotherapy. The added benefit of accessibility to anyone of any age range or group makes it a better option than many other therapy forms.
Even better, people respond more favorably to it, probably because of its aesthetic appeal of the natural environment. If you are struggling with emotional, mental or behavioral problems, you should consider getting help through adventure therapy.
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