How Effective Is Adventure Therapy For Mental Health?

Do you struggle with psychological or behavioural issues? Is substance abuse ruining your life? Do you find it challenging to ask for help? Adventure therapy (AT) can help. 

As a one-of-a-kind experiential therapy, it uses subtle, challenging, and enjoyable outdoor activities to embrace natural healing. Self-reliance, identity development, growth mindset, and grit remain the key focus. Thus, it keeps recurring episodes of anxiety, depression, and helplessness at bay.

In this article, you will learn everything about adventure therapy, including how it works, what to expect, and its benefits. But first, a walk down memory lane. It's worthwhile to know how this non-traditional healing therapy came into being.

Adventure Therapy-How It All Began

Back in the early 1800s, hospitals and mental clinics sought a way to treat their patients in a natural and holistic environment. However, it was not until 1901 that the first instance of adventure therapy came to light. The Manhattan State Hospital reportedly arranged "tent therapy" to isolate TB patients. In doing so, it also opened the window to nature's healing. Other institutions followed suit. 

 - San Francisco Psychiatric Hospital accommodated patients after the 1906 earthquake.
 - Camp Ahmek in Algonquin Park, Ontario, was the first-ever all-boys club for therapeutic benefits, encouraging self-development and team-building spirit.
 - Shortly after the success of Camp Ahmek, Camp Wapomeo was opened with a similar concept. This time, it was an all-girls camp.
 - Fully functional therapeutic camps were operational by 1945. The most popular among them was the Salesmanship Club of Dallas, which offered residential camping and care for the emotional health of employee families.
 - In 1941, famous educator Kurt Hahn laid the foundation of Outward Bound in Aberdovey, Wales. It was a gateway for young people to experience a safe and structured learning environment outdoors.
 - The concept reached its culmination in 1962 with the establishment of Outward Bound Colorado, when other programs took centre stage. The most notable among them was the National Outdoor Leadership School.

What To Expect From Adventure Therapy

According to a study, over ninety percent of AT participants saw a significant boost in mindset and behavioural patterns. They believed that being outdoors put them outside their comfort zone. Plus, a collaborative environment helped them acquire and nurture new skills. 

Under trained respite care, the participants are led through several excursion activities like mountain and rope climbing, kayaking, surfing, and hiking. Such activities are designed to realise the importance of team building. So, working alongside others gives participants a better window into developing trust and following guided instructions to solve problems. Let's see how enrolling in an AT can change lives.

Key Benefits Of Adventure Therapy

Adventure therapy is widely recognised as a non-traditional approach. Yet, it remains true to core psychological concepts like experiential learning, cognitive behavioural therapy, and systems theory. Here's how it affects the psyche of an individual. 

-It's an antidote for post-traumatic stress (like overcoming the grief of losing someone), substance abuse, anxiety, depression, autism, and even schizophrenia.
-It’s scientifically proven to lower cortisol levels.
-It's a wonderful way to unplug yourself from digital attachments like phones and laptops. With your nervous system aroused, you    experience a better mood.
-It allows participants to discover new and unique mental traits through goal-based activities.
-It promises emotional healing by doing away with self-destructive habits to confront personal issues.
-It helps you connect with people outside your comfort zone to hone your emotional intelligence. This is particularly helpful for a      neurological disorder like autism. ATs generally have dedicated support workers for autism patients, helping them feel at ease.
-It helps you accept yourself for your shortcomings and unique abilities equally.

A Life Altering Experience Like No Other

From self-reliance to identity development, every single bit is connected to the big picture. This is where a non-traditional approach like AT stands to pivot in connecting the dots. Whether a teen or an adult, signing up for adventure ability services could be an experience of a lifetime.