What It Is
Adventure therapy is invigorating and fun and teaches important recovery lessons about trust, communication, perseverance, team-building and overcoming obstacles. Depending on The Ranch facility they choose, clients may participate in activities such as:
- Ropes course
- Climbing a 30-foot-tall pamper pole
- Archery (PA only)
- Platform trust fall
- Leap of faith
- Triangle traverse
- Swinging log
- Secret maze
- Medicine wheel
- Rope swing
- Mohawk walk
- Vertical playpen
- Safe roller system
- Recovery-themed Geocaching
How It Helps
Our adventure therapies provide hands-on experiences that help clients be present in their bodies and the moment, and discover metaphors for challenges while gaining new perspectives. These therapies encourage feelings of accomplishment, trust and “natural highs” without drugs, alcohol or self-defeating patterns coinciding perfectly with our substance abuse treatment and mental health treatment programs.
Research shows that experiential activities can improve self-esteem, decrease depression and anxiety and increase self-efficacy. While the activities are fun and challenging, they also serve as metaphors, helping clients learn about themselves and how they relate to others and the world around them. After each activity, clients are typically asked three questions: What happened? What can you learn from it? What are you going to do with that information?
Common themes in adventure therapy include:
- Dealing with frustration – Adventure therapy teaches clients to pause and create boundaries when frustration arises, always with the intention of returning to the cause of frustration when they’ve managed some of the anxiety and discomfort around it. Being comfortable with discomfort – Recovery can be uncomfortable because it’s unfamiliar and also because it provides space for difficult emotions to surface. Certain adventure activities can teach clients to sit with discomfort, relax into it and navigate their way through it by using their voice and drawing on the support of peers.
- Learning through play – Adventure therapy is especially powerful because it gets to the roots of how people originally learn as children, which is through play. Activities tap into clients’ innate ability to learn through trial and error. Pushing through fear – Many adventure therapies require clients take a leap of faith — literally. People will understandably be apprehensive about activities like jumping from a high platform or balancing on a swinging log, but they learn to push through that fear, feel proud of themselves for doing so and take that courage back into everyday life.
- Leaning on others – People make mistakes, but a group of peers can provide the support and accountability they need to get back up when they fall down. Adventure therapy provides a powerful community-based experience where clients learn that they need other people. Participants work with others, communicate and trust their team members to accomplish a task.
- Being consistent – Clients learn that in order to be consistent, they must do something regularly. This is a valuable metaphor for the importance of attending recovery meetings or taking part in other practices that support their recovery.