Our adventure therapy service introduces to participants a combination of physically and psychologically demanding activities — coasteering, canoeing and climbing are some examples, often in a group setting.
Participants are presented with tasks which require high levels of engagement, challenging participants to confront negative behaviour and address their thought processes.
It is inspiring to see how these activities often help young people simply smile and have fun. It is amazingly therapeutic.
Having fun, building relationships and developing self-esteem through pushing their comfort zones creates greater buy-in from our clients and, thus, better and longer term outcomes.
Adventure therapy is often viewed as effective because of the apparent positive effects in treating developmental issues with juvenile offenders and adolescent offenders with addiction issues. Gillis, & McLeod, 1992
Adventure therapy as treatment is equally effective for adjudicated youth and other adolescent populations. Adolescents who participated in adventure therapy groups are at an advantage for coping with adolescent issues than adolescents that did not. Cason & Gillis 1994
There is evidence of improvement in self-concept for adolescents who participate in adventure therapy. Adolescents are approximately 30% better off in their ability to cope with mental health issues than those that do not participate in a psychotherapeutic treatment making the implication that adventure therapy effectiveness is comparable to the effectiveness of psychotherapeutic treatment. Smith, Glass & Miller 1980.
The concepts contributing to adventure therapy effectiveness are: increases in self-esteem, self-concept, self efficacy, self perceptions, problem solving, behavioral and cognitive development, decreases in depression, overall positive behavioral changes, improved attitude, and that adventure therapy generates a sense of individual reward. Parker 1992, Gillis, Simpson, Thomsen & Martin 1995, Moote & Woodarski 1997, Newberry & Lindsay 2000.
Further aspects that contribute to adventure therapy’s effectiveness are that it: increases group cohesion, aids in improving conduct disorders in adolescents, improves psychosocial related difficulties, is effective in treating drug addicted and juvenile youth, treats sensation seeking behaviors, improves clinical functioning, facilitates connecting participants with their therapist and treatment issues, and increases interpersonal relatedness. Baucom, Gillis, Durden, Bloom & Thomsen 1995, Dickens 1999.
When comparing the reduction in recidivism rates with traditional programs and programs with adventure therapy, programs using adventure therapy have lower recidivism. There is an increases in interpersonal relatedness, which has been described as the most important factor for improving mental health issues. Ziven 1988, Blanchard 1993.
We use a range of activities in our work, but all are chosen with our clients in mind.
To increase positive outcomes, tasks in which success is achievable are normally presented to participants. Activities are always matched to students needs and abilities. If a match is good participants will strive to succeed. Tasks are also chosen to utilise the physical and emotional resources of participants for maximum benefits
Activities can include the following
- Rock climbing
- Survival skills
- White water tubing
It’s often very beneficial to take your group out of their normal environment; this can provide new perspectives on the participant’s usual surroundings.
In this new environment participants can experiment with new identities and psychological strategies that can have impressive benefits.
Some evidence even suggests that the aesthetic and spiritual qualities of appropriate environments are beneficial in themselves.
The locations that we use vary greatly but are always chosen for their beauty, and the challenge, fun and excitement that they can bring to the young people.
Our most common locations are In and around Dublin such as
- Dalkey Quarry
- Killiney Hill
- Wicklow mountains
- Rivers – Liffey, Boyne & Avonmore
We also use a number of locations around the country on our residential programmes such as
- The Burren
- Achill Island
- The Barrow river