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How Does Adventure Therapy Work?

Cheryl Mascarenhas
Life is one big adventure, a journey of constantly leaping into the unknown and finding things that startle you. Adventure therapy does nothing but encourage you to take the necessary risks in a supervised environment. Find out here how adventure therapy is good for you...

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It is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves - in finding themselves.
- Andre Gide
The realm of the unknown always seems to mystify most, which is why psychologists believe in employing such a method to assist people to overcome their many fears.

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While there are many of us who are prone to giving in to a number of baseless phobias, the activities employed in this therapy help to eliminate the fears associated with them. It is a method through which we allow healing to take place naturally. In other words, nature becomes the guide and healer.

Adventure Therapy

Adventure therapy is a form of counseling that assists an individual or group of individuals to explore their deepest fears and thoughts, in a controlled environment. Adventure therapy can thus be defined as change brought about by going beyond the conventional one to one method employed in counseling.

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It is a means of conditioning the mind by employing the senses, which in turn heightens our physical and emotional experience. Adventure therapy best understood, is creating opportunities to overcome fear through direct contact with nature.
The activities employed in this therapy helps adapt oneself to situations, to overcome social phobias and adjust to life. The positive outcome of adventure therapy is that the individual learns to wholeheartedly embrace the challenges that life brings, thus bringing balance and equilibrium.

Posing a Challenge

As the name itself suggests, this therapy employs activities that have to something to do with the great outdoors. The stress here is on not just enjoying the adrenaline rush you experience in the activities itself, but learning to apply the experience to everyday life.

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Scared to scale new heights? Better not let the fear get the best of you. Adventure therapy employs few rope courses and levels of rock climbing to make get rid of the incapacitating fear.
Here, change is directly aimed at how the individual perceives the situation and eventually brings about a gradual transformation in his/her thinking. The sole idea is to bring about a gradual decline in interrupting thoughts and inhibitions that interfere in the individual's life.
The therapy includes sports like rappelling and white water rafting. Although these sports are sure to give you anxiety attacks, the technique itself helps overcome inherent fear and mistrust. It helps the participant become confident of his/her own abilities.

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White water Rafting

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This is followed by discussion of the problems that the individual faces in real life - whether at work, school, or in their personal life. The individual has to then apply the experience of the wilderness to the situation that he/she views as a threat. Here the stress is on practice rather than on theory.
Another important factor of adventure therapy is that it explores the effect of nature on the human mind. Nature, as we all know, cannot be controlled, nor altered. The threats present in nature can overwhelm an individual, and if not dealt in the proper way can cripple an individual.
Psychologists who vouch for this therapy believe that the bond of humans with nature is akin to their bond with their families. To make this bond strong, psychologists often conduct wilderness expeditions where the individual has to learn to survive the wild with bare essentials.
The expedition forces an individual to develop trust and faith in his/her surroundings. The individual slowly learns to trust the animals of the wild that he/she once thought of as a threat.

Benefits of Adventure Therapy

✦ Helps Develop Self-esteem

✦ Builds Trust

✦ Develops Leadership Qualities

✦ Reasserts Human Bonds

✦ Helps Overcome Denial and Fear

✦ Develops Communication Skills
✦ Motivates Decision-making

✦ Develops Fine Motor Skills

✦ Develops a Healthy Attitude to Life

✦ Increases Concentration

✦ Helps Adjust to Situations

✦ Aids Problem-solving
Putting it mildly, experiencing the adventures of the physical world triggers understanding and acceptance of the adventures contained within. Seeing the way it works, one can definitely say adventure therapy is beneficial, as it conditions the senses and heightens the physical and emotional experience.