Adventure therapy is an umbrella term for a number of therapeutic approach, that attracts and inspire a diverse group of outdoor and therapeutic practitioners, academics, and theorists.
What to expect?
How does it work?
Experiential therapies put-forward ‘in the moment’ responses very similar to real-life behaviour, and therefore frequently get to the heart of matters more quickly and effectively than talk therapy or classical psychotherapies.
Experiential learning methodologies
Outdoor adventure activities are the primary practice of adventure therapy, and experiential learning methodologies results in its facilitation. We learn from experience.
The provocation to act, the urge to decide, and the encouragement of bodily involvement
The initial reluctance of clients to become involved in action is often lower in an adventure setting and the given activities are often experienced as being less artificial than the ‘exercises’ or ‘experiments’ given in classical therapeutic settings. They are urged to engage themselves in the new and unknown, to feel how the new experience of taking a stance and actively engaging can help them.
In and out of the therapeutic context
While being similar to a classical therapeutic session, a significant difference is the explicit distinction made in a classical approach between what happens within or ‘inside’ versus ‘outside’ of the session.
Nature and its qualities as projection screen
In a therapeutic process therapists often helps their clients in their process undoing a projection and re-owning the previously ‘denied’ material, in order to more fully integrate different parts of themselves in a more harmonic way. (Harper et al, 2012).
An alternative entrance to awareness
The therapeutic activities provide with an alternative way of behaviour: the alternative behaviour being the entrance and fuel the awareness of the meaning-making process.
The therapy focuses on the possibilities and strengths instead of on limitations and vulnerabilities
In the adventure therapy approach the attention and the perspective is dominantly placed on the present and on the future. It proposes different ways to act and to engage oneself with all of our skills and abilities.
Actions here have clearly visible consequences
Actions and activities in nature are simple and straightforward in comparison with the everyday challenges an individual has to face. Behaviour in this aspect have a clearly visible consequences, no arbitrary rewards or punishments. The areas where one can be in control and where one has no control at all is clearly separated. Where one has no control one tend to anticipate or adapt.
When is it Used?
Role of therapist:
Conventional adventure psychotherapy practitioners ideally conduct sessions both indoors and outdoors to include physical and experiential activity. This seems an ideal place for formal merging of disciples to build ethical and effective programs between adventure and therapeutic professionals (Harper et al., 2012). The adventure practice combined with ethical and well facilitated therapeutic process has significant potential to influence human behaviour.
Atkinson, R. L., Atkinson, R. C. et al (1996). Hilgard's introduction to psychology (12th ed.). Harcourt Brace College Publishers