Adventure Therapy (AT) is typically outdoor and activity-based therapy that combines the benefits of experiential activities and elements of traditional therapy. AT has been shown to be an effective form of therapy for adolescents and adults, and has shown positive changes in self-esteem, depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms, increased self-awareness, interpersonal skills, and self-regulation. Shared adventure experiences facilitate trust, compassion, and teamwork in an expedited fashion due to its noncompetitive, interdependent nature. The AT aspect provides a novel and exciting therapy experience that increases buy-in and engagement from adolescent/adult members that may otherwise choose not to partake in therapy.
Neurological effects of Adventure Therapy
A key principle behind adventure therapy is that “A moderate level of arousal creates an optimal learning state.” (Cozolino, 2012) Individuals affected by traumas struggle to manage their states of arousal. Through adventure therapy, specific experiences can be “dosed” at specific levels to foster change at different arousal states with the purpose of applying coping strategies when aroused in a structured/facilitated environment. Another key principle is that “neurons that fire together wire together.” (Cozolino, 2012) Essentially, to expedite the process of change in a specific area of the brain at the emotional level, that part of the brain should be activated. Adventure therapy can be used to arouse specific parts of the brain with the purpose of fostering positive change. Also, specific adventure therapy groups are created with the purpose of cultivating direct practice with desired coping skill sets (interpersonal, communication, problem-solving, modulating arousal states), which challenges individuals to improvise, learn and utilize these specific coping skills in a supportive/structured environmental setting.
The program consists of 10 two-three hour sessions, depending on type group. Each session begins with a mindfulness component and check-in followed by a psycho educational lesson and discussion. This is followed by an hour-long experience that is thematically related to the lesson of the week. Afterwards, there will be a check-in/process, followed by 1 more hour of experience. Next, there is a processing discussion to help integrate the climbing experience and lessons into our everyday lives. The session ends with a final mindfulness opportunity and check-in. The program is designed to have consistency within the mindfulness and check in elements while providing scaffolded psycho educational lessons that build on the theme from the previous week.
Individual — normal rate of session (gear not included)
Private Group — $150/person (gear included)
Facility — $250/hour (gear not included)
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