The great adventure!

The great adventure!

Last week, we discussed expressive therapy.  This week, I wanted to discuss a related modality – adventure therapy!  This form of therapy is also active and experiential and utilizes a similar focus on process.  Clients engage in fun activities like ropes courses, rock climbing, kayaking, etc., in the presence of the therapist.  In expressive therapy, I explained that the product was not the center – the process is.  Similarly, with adventure therapy – the activity itself is not the center which means that the possibilities are endless.  What matters is that therapist and client choose an activity that offers some challenge, either physically or psychologically, to be overcome.  It is in facing this challenge and working through it together that transformation happens.  Your therapist is able to observe the way in which you approach the activity and offer encouragement along the way.  They take note of what emerges verbally and non-verbally.  After the activity, therapist and client discuss  the process to identify both the conscious and unconscious meanings.  The goal is to transfer the lessons learned during the activity into the life challenges faced.  It is one thing to discuss solutions and new perspectives.  It is another level entirely to actually apply new perspectives to novel challenges – providing an experiential testing ground.  There is an undeniable power in such tangible evidence..making it far more likely that you will actually apply what has been learned.

Like expressive therapy – adventure therapy bypasses the typical defenses we have in place for traditional verbal communication.  Participating in a novel activity opens us up in ways conversation alone cannot.  Though the research on neurological effects is sparse, it is reasonable to deduce that this form of therapy also utilizes unique areas of the brain, leading to results not achieved when sitting in a chair.  We have already proven that exposure to nature has profound healing effects on depression, anxiety and ADHD.  With most of these sessions happening outside, we have a double benefit.  Certainly, it is also interesting to consider how the physical activity of adventure therapy may bring healing to physiologically stored trauma.  In the end though, I once again emphasize the relationship between client and therapist as the safe container within which this work must occur if it is to be effective!  We’re excited to be looking at ways we can incorporate adventure therapy in the practice here at Phenix.  We believe these modalities, combined with the relational foundation of our therapeutic approach offer a powerful combination for healing and transformation.

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