Traditional therapy does not always appeal to most men; therefore, unique approaches have been designed to encourage men to embark on the journey of self-discovery. One approach, Adventure Therapy (AT), has received little focus but offers traditional therapy strategies in an adventurous and active environment. “Adventure activities range from short-term initiatives and trust-building activities lasting several hours to wilderness-based adventure experiences (e.g., camping, backpacking, rock climbing) lasting days, weeks, or months,” said David E. Scheinfeld of the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. “These experiential activities are opportunities for intra- and interpersonal development.” He added, “Because of the challenge of living in the wilderness, participants have also shown progress in teamwork, communication, physical ﬁtness, and creative problem-solving.” Based on previous research that has demonstrated the positive effects of group therapy for men, Scheinfeld led a study to see if AT would provide similar results.
Eleven men between the ages of 32 and 58 were invited to a wilderness retreat that lasted four days. Half of the men began the retreat with issues relating to grief, depression, self-worth, relationship or family struggles, or anger. “Several group therapy sessions (2–3 hours) took place intermittently during hikes or in the evening. While hiking and cooking, the men informally conversed about personal issues brought up in group therapy or otherwise on their minds,” said Scheinfeld. “Many participants noted that a beneﬁcial aspect was the separation from typical home distractions (work, family, etc.). This separation seemed to provide substantial space for members to reﬂect upon and address personal issues.” Most of the men also received the added benefit of gaining a new perspective and felt able to process their emotions better as a result of being in the wilderness. Additionally, AT is a non-competitive, collaborative environment that provides support to men who are facing troubling issues. Scheinfeld added, “The results of our study may provide clinical insight into the use of AT as a supplementary group therapy approach to enrich the therapeutic experience for adult males seeking therapy in the ofﬁce setting.”
Scheinfeld, David E., Aaron B. Rochlen, and Sam J. Buser. “Adventure Therapy: A Supplementary Group Therapy Approach for Men.” Psychology of Men & Masculinity 12.2 (2011): 188-94. Print.
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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