Adventure therapy has the potential to inspire emotional healing as part of a comprehensive treatment program for substance abuse. Although the therapeutic value of adventure therapy is particularly beneficial for adolescents and young adults, it also works well for older and physically capable people too. Essentially, adventure therapy is a kind of experiential therapy that allows clients to explore their strengths and weaknesses in wildly different situations and circumstances.
In part, adventure therapy works by pushing people outside of their comfort zone in order to challenge them in unique ways. As well as including an element of escapism from the daily routine, adventure therapy also helps individuals to see themselves in a new light. Furthermore, the skills learned through facing out-of-the-ordinary challenges in a collaborative team environment, serve to boost self-esteem and improve social skills in recovery.
What Is Adventure Therapy?
There are many different activities involved in adventure therapy although they generally take place outdoors. All activities involve an element of fun although they are physically challenging. Trained mental health therapists encourage and motivate clients by offering guidance and supervision for activities and excursions like camping, mountain climbing, kayaking, and hiking.
Teamwork is an important component of adventure therapy and most activities require an element of working in collaboration with others. The activities involved in adventure therapy are designed to encourage clients to trust themselves and others while improving their problem-solving abilities.
Individuals who have been abusing substances for some time are likely to have lost control of their lives and may lack the motivation to make positive changes. Adventure therapy helps clients regain control and empowers them to find solutions to difficult or stressful situations in recovery that would otherwise lead to them relapsing.
Although adventure therapy is conducted outside a rehab setting, it is firmly rooted in the psychological concepts of cognitive behavioral therapy and has been shown to be extremely effective in improving physical and mental health.
Here are the 7 key benefits of adventure therapy for people in substance abuse rehab:
Adventure therapy applies to different age groups and varying mental health challenges.
People of all ages, facing different mental health challenges can benefit from adventure therapy. Due to the fact that adventure therapy pushes individuals to their limits, they are able to discover new things about themselves which promote better recovery outcomes.
Adventure therapy is particularly beneficial for people with depression and anxiety, which is common with substance use disorder. It can also provide comfort to people grieving the loss of a loved one or make personal relationships more productive.
It allows individuals to experience the therapeutic properties of nature.
Elevate rehab centers have a holistic focus that offers clients a completely natural path to recovery. A physical fitness program is a key element of successful rehab and recovery and adventure therapy provides a different spin on this.
Embracing the outdoors in all conditions and facing challenges that are beyond the realms of normal life has been shown to reduce stress levels and improve depression and anxiety. The medical explanation for this is that being outside in a natural setting lowers levels of the stress-associated chemical cortisol in the brain.
Research shows that more positive social behaviors are encouraged when a person experiences a breathtaking view of the natural landscape. When clients commune with nature on activities in adventure therapy, they are able to focus on something much bigger than themselves. Even a short but brisk walk in a lush forest or on a beach can inspire a more positive mindset although adventure therapy intensifies the experience.
Participants take part in engaging, real-world experiences.
The challenges faced in adventure therapy require immediate responses, which removes the possibility of clients second-guessing themselves in difficult situations. When individuals have completed rehab and return to their daily lives, they are almost certainly going to face challenging situations that carry a risk of relapse. Adventure therapy encourages clients to think on their feet and make healthy decisions instinctively.
Adventure therapy provides ample opportunities for personal development.
Adventure therapy draws on the principles of CBT by providing clients with the means to better understand the thought processes driving their addictive behavior. When clients are faced with problems in adventure therapy they learn how to employ the coping strategies they have learned from other components of an Elevate addiction treatment program.
Participants hone their interpersonal skills.
The collaborative nature of adventure therapy allows clients to refine their social skills and work with others towards a shared objective. By supporting each other through challenges, participants are able to improve their communication skills by giving and receiving feedback. Clients also learn how to set personal boundaries and respect those of others.
It provides the opportunity to be physically active.
The Elevate holistic approach to rehab places considerable emphasis on a physical fitness program. A physical fitness program is considered to be a highly effective therapy for physical and mental health and adventure therapy promotes fitness in a new and exciting way. Regular exercise has been shown to improve overall wellbeing and encourage a more positive outlook because it increases serotonin levels. This is particularly beneficial for people who have depression and anxiety as a result of substance abuse.
Adventure therapy encourages self-reflection.
Because clients are forced beyond their normal routine in adventure therapy, it provides a good opportunity for self-reflection. Through working with others in a collaborative environment, clients are able to gain a new perspective of their place in the world. They also learn more about their strengths and weaknesses by facing challenges that they otherwise wouldn’t and discover more positive aspects of their personalities in the process.