Adventure therapy, as a distinct and separate form of psychotherapy, became prominent in the 1960’s and has continued to grow since then. Influences from a variety of learning and psychological theories have contributed to the complex theoretical combination within adventure therapy. The underlying philosophy, however, refers to experiential education.
Adventure therapy for addiction treatment is just like it sounds. It’s a therapeutic process in which individuals who have struggled with drug or alcohol abuse participate in various “adventures” in a safe environment. Most adventure therapy activities are outdoors, however, some may also be indoors. Regardless of location adventure therapy has one common trend — an element of perceived and/or actual “risk”. The perceived or actual risk may be different than your initial thought; its often times relying on trust, working with others, or stepping out of your comfort zone. Essentially when conducting adventure therapy for addiction treatment, the professional leads patients through trust-building activities that promote communication, challenges their minds, stimulates brainpower, and gets the patient out of his/her day-to-day environment. The latter part of this statement about stimulation and escaping many times resonate with the individual who’s struggled with drug or alcohol addiction. This is familiar territory and can be used to counter-condition the mind and body.
Adventure therapy for addiction treatment is designed to challenge participants to overcome their perceived limitations, overcome guilt and emotional pain, and develop an enhanced sense of self. Addiction although carried long-term, does not need to bear devastating results and its negative effects can be short-lived if one chooses to “live and let live”. Adventure therapy can help you stay on track by utilizing healthy adventurous outlets versus the counterfeit maladaptive outlets of using drugs or alcohol.
Adventure, is education and should impart knowledge. Adventure therapy creates the experience(s) needed to change beliefs, attitudes – and most importantly – behavior. What are the deep motivators of human behavior? Research suggests that feeling connected to someone or something motivates protective and self-sacrificing behavior, which is in direct contrast to reckless, apathetic, and/or selfish behavior sometimes seen in those struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. Furthermore, adventure therapy studies demonstrate that connectedness to nature is an important predictor of environmentally responsible behavior. Connection is an integral component to addiction recovery and cannot be emphasized enough. Adventure therapy for addiction treatment is a reflective and striking way to connect with nature, others, a higher power, and most importantly your inner you.