Adventure therapy is a practice that has been in use since the 1960s. People who have had trouble with traditional methods of psychological treatment can still reap the benefits of a therapeutic approach through effective adventure therapy. However, there are those in the world who remain sceptical of its benefits – after all, it does appear quite different to the traditional image of talking to a therapist in a room. Despite that, it’s important to mention that instances of addiction recovery through adventure therapy applications are numerous.
Basically, adventure therapy is an amazing way to reconnect anyone who’s struggling with an addiction to both themselves and the world around them, while also working to build confidence in a sober self and encouraging healthy, productive social interaction.
So, what is adventure therapy, and why might it be right for you in your journey to recovery?
What is Adventure Therapy?
The main principle of adventure therapy is to get people out into the natural world and place them in a situation that’s outside their comfort zones. This forces them to think on their feet, often with the others in the program, in order to solve problems in an effective way.
Many psychologists and addiction specialists have spoken out in the name of this approach, often as a supplemental program to more traditional methods of therapy and recovery. Every adventure therapy program is different, and they each have their individual benefits, however there are a few key points every program will hit.
When people fall into an addiction disorder, often they disregard everything else in their life to continue catering to the addiction. This is a major behavioural pattern of the illness, and it’s also one of the key things that will trigger a relapse if it is not dealt with.
If you think about it, one of the root reasons that people turn to drugs and alcohol is a lack of self-esteem, or a lack of confidence and trust in one’s self. They feel they can’t handle the challenges being thrown at them, so they turn to substance abuse and proceed to spiral downwards. This is how an addiction feeds itself.
Adventure therapy aims to get in the way of that by getting people in active recovery out and into nature, placing them with qualified facilitators who will help them overcome any of the physical and mental challenges they might face during the activity. Once people can prove to themselves that they can solve these kinds of problems – e.g. how to set up a campsite, how to navigate, how to find drinkable water – they have a series of successful instances they can refer to when they start doubting themselves.
“I could do that while sober, so I can do this.”
Reconnecting with Physical Self and Nature
Another big thing that gets cast out when someone is dealing with an addiction disorder is their connection with their physical self, as well as the world around them. Those in the throes of substance abuse can see their bodies as vessels for mind-altering influences, and not much else. They disconnect from personal hygiene, from pride in their appearance, from the need to exercise or maintain their health – all of which are also symptoms of major depressive disorder. This disconnect symbolises a lack of caring for oneself, in more than one sense.
Adventure therapy aims to reconnect people with the capabilities of their physical body, to show them that they can do extraordinary things as living, breathing human beings. We are designed to walk for days on end, to use our hands for building what we need out of nothing, to navigate our way through the world by what we can sense around us. By engaging in this kind of therapy, people can become re-situated in their physical bodies and reconnect with their abilities beyond addiction – both of which play a major role in the road to recovery.
Removing Environmental Distractions
Finally, adventure therapy takes you out into natural spaces to remove all sense of your addiction’s origin. It’s far too easy to trigger a relapse when people are in a space that reminds them of their addictions, cravings, and history with substances. This is especially true in the early stages of recovery, and in truth, triggers are very hard to uproot.
One of the best ways to separate yourself from your addiction is to do it physically, which is part of the purpose of adventure therapy – it removes you to a beautiful, natural location, where you can have the mental space to work on conquering the disorder.
Is adventure therapy right for you?
If you have ever struggled with more traditional forms of therapy used in addiction treatment such as talk therapy, then adventure therapy could be a fantastic choice for you. While not necessarily a good choice for doing as a solitary measure, supplementing your treatment plan with adventure therapy will help to boost your recovery in an incredibly natural, holistic way, that is likely to stick in your mind for your entire life.
Not all those who wander are lost.
Zen Detox is a holistic centre for rehabilitation in Auckland, and we focus our efforts on creating a safe, removed space for people struggling with addiction disorders. We offer a variety of therapies for your recovery, including adventure therapy. If you would like to learn more, or if you are ready to start your journey towards recovery, give us a call now.