Adventure Therapy

What Is Adventure Therapy?


Adventure therapy (also called activity therapy) is a method of therapy which began in the 1960s. The therapy combines nature, community, and daring exercises for therapy. The purpose of adventure therapy is to develop an individual’s physical, social, spiritual, and mental health through the invigorating power of evidence-based therapy, fun activities, and adventure trips. Adventure therapy helps substance use disorder clients as they overcome behavioral issues and drug addiction. In this environment, the adventure therapist seeks to actively encourage clients with different tools. For instance, some therapists promote healing by teaching clients how to “shoe” a horse and other non-mounted activities in equine therapy.

Adventure Therapy Offers Significant Benefits

  • The outdoor pursuits are a vigorous therapy tactic for anxiety, depression, trauma, PTSD, and substance abuse.
  • It is an exciting and useful aspect of family therapy.
  • It is advantageous for a range of behavioral health challenges.

What’s Involved in Activity Therapy?


Activity therapy promotes recuperation, growth, and development of a person's physical, social, and psychological health using (typically) outdoor activities. Likewise, adventure therapy includes the use of activities supported by cognitive behavioral therapy. Most times, activity therapy is designed for a group, which injects a “team” mentality to the activity. Likewise, the group discusses the activity and expresses their feelings about it. Utilizing outdoor activities inspires change through trust and problem- solving. Processing involves a discussion in which therapists help clients adopt the experience and relate it to their recovery objectives.

Common activities for addiction treatment include:

  • Kayaking and canoeing
  • Rock climbing
  • Paddle boarding
  • Swimming
  • Hiking
  • Nature trips
  • Equine therapy
  • Low-ropes course

How Does Adventure Therapy Help with Recovery?


Adventure therapy assists in developing mindfulness and awareness during outdoor activities. Self-awareness is often lost during lengthy addiction periods. Also, one of the most valuable tenets of adventure therapy is for clients to connect their own life experiences with a specific outdoor activity. Here, clients can gain a new sense of self-confidence and develop teamwork skills. For instance, as clients learn how to rock climb, they can learn their need for interdependence or assert their needs for independence.

Clients who participate in adventure therapy have boosted self-esteem, which is typically poor during active addiction. Research has shown numerous positive effects for treating anxieties and low self-respect through adventure therapy. Clients learn the significance of durability and experience while trying to grasp adventure activities.

Advantages of Adventure Therapy for Substance Use Disorder

  • Encourages personal responsibility.
  • Teaches teamwork and collaboration.
  • Develops messaging skills.
  • Improves self-awareness.
  • Develops mental toughness.
  • Encourages openness and emotive discovery.
  • Decreases symptoms of depression.
  • Improves self-esteem.
  • Teaches healthy coping skills.


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