Technology is innovating and the world is plugging in.
These days, everyone is so focused on getting a Wi-Fi signal that it’s easy to lose connection with your inner self. For those struggling with emotional, mental, and even physical health, adventure therapy may be something to consider.
But, what the heck is adventure therapy and how can it help?
Keep reading to learn all about this underrated psychotherapy.
What Is Adventure Therapy?
Adventure therapy is a form of psychotherapy that is often misunderstood and underrated. People often think that adventure therapy is a new concept, however, it’s actually been around since the early 1900s.
Years ago, psychologists used to use a technique called tent therapy. This would allow patients to camp for therapeutic benefits.
Granted, this method was initially a way to quarantine TB patients, but it didn’t take long before hospitals began to notice the healing nature. By 1945, there were many established therapeutic camps for emotional and mental health.
It’s become more and more common over the past few decades to have a degree in outdoor therapy. Those who pursue these degrees are often people who have once taken part in an adventure therapy program.
Treatment programs include a variety of exercises intended to challenge patients and bring them out of their comfort zone. Adventure therapy is often more effective in young adults or adolescents, however, virtually everyone can benefit from outdoor treatment.
Sometimes referred to as experiential education, adventure therapy is a powerful treatment approach for those dealing with addiction, depression, anxiety, grief, PTSD, eating disorders, and other mental health disorders.
Bridging the Gap
First and foremost, adventure therapy allows patients to disconnect from the world and reconnect with their spiritual well-being.
It might sound tough to turn off the TV and stop looking at Facebook for a few days, but it’s important to remember that movies and, social media especially, promote depression. They portray all of these perfect people living their perfect lives, and that can, understandably, put a downer on your own life.
It’s easy to forget that movies are fictional and Instagram never shows the bad parts.
Adventure therapy gives you time to put away the electronics and interact with real people who are overcoming some of the same challenges as you. Even those who are trying to escape the office life, adventure therapy works to bring back self-awareness.
Being surrounded by nature helps to restore tranquility and positivity as well as remind you that life is full of challenges, and that’s normal.
Adventure Therapy and Mental Health
Adventure therapy is about more than just taking a walk outside. Trained professionals create outdoor programs focus on rehabilitation, development, growth, and healing of physical and mental wellbeing.
These programs utilize empowering activities such as:
- Rock climbing
- White water rafting
- Snow camping
These activities require persistence, resilience, a sense of discovery, and trust. The goal is for patients to learn teamwork and empathy while still allowing the feeling of freedom and control.
It’s easy to become codependent in a life that’s built around avoidance, criticism, and overall judgemental behavior. Adventure therapy allows you to find yourself without outside influence telling you who you should be, how you should talk, what to think, or what you should look like.
This form of therapy allows patients to learn how to think on their feet and make their own decisions, ultimately boosting self-confidence.
Adventure Therapy and Addiction
It’s estimated that around 21 million Americans suffer from at least one addiction. From 1999 to 2017, over 700,000 Americans died from an overdose.
Those suffering from addiction often feel disconnected from the rest of the world. They may also suffer from low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, or other mental health-related symptoms.
Adventure therapy is used in many rehabilitation centers as a way to bring addicts out of their comfort zone and self-isolation.
The therapy encourages them to use social skills and team building to solve problems, as well as create a sense of responsibility and resiliency.
Often times, drug additions stem from poor coping mechanisms. Adventure therapy is effective in teaching healthy coping skills, instead of coping with drug abuse. This includes skills in areas of anger management, loss, stress, among others.
It’s easy to forget all of the learned skills and behaviors once a patient is released from rehab. It can be helpful for some patients to integrate adventure therapy into their everyday life, such as indoor rock climbing or swimming.
Additionally, many patients are able to grow and reflect better in an outdoor environment, rather than a traditional therapeutic environment.
Adventure Therapy Is Right for Everyone
Even if you’re not a person who struggles with addiction or mental health, adventure therapy can still be beneficial to you.
Walking barefoot in the warm soil or cool river and breathing fresh oxygen from the trees is the biological nature of mankind. Somewhere along the way, we built concrete walls that disconnected us from this natural way of being.
Bringing yourself back to nature and allowing yourself to connect with your spirit is what adventure therapy is all about.
So, put down the electronics and get yourself outdoors, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
For more ways to improve your mental and physical health, browse other articles in our health category.
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