Adventure Therapy Provides Unique Experience for Men

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 John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Manuela


    November 28th, 2011 at 4:02 PM

    This is kind of like doing things like a rope course, right?

    When I was in college I took a recreation class and we had to do a ropes course training that would help to implement team work and training.

    I could see how this could be used as a therapeutic tool as well.

  • alfred


    November 28th, 2011 at 11:25 PM

    I love hiking and camping.This is something I had never heard of.I might just take up adventure therapy now.Not that I have any problem but its only going to help right?

  • Fallon


    November 29th, 2011 at 5:17 AM

    adventure therapy sounds like something that could help anyone who is a little hesitant about traditional therapy methods, male or female.

    i would hate for this to be pigeon holed as something that only a man could benefit from; because there are just as many women who may be a little put off with traditional therapy methods but something like this could really help them to open up and experience life to the fullest

  • Blake


    November 29th, 2011 at 10:22 AM

    I wouldn’t be too comfortable talking about my problems in a group and especially so after being exhausted form hiking and camping.All that I would want to do is relax,not talk about and try to solve my problems in the midst of all the beautiful environment there!

  • Brent


    November 29th, 2011 at 12:41 PM

    Something along the same lines as this is called wilderness camp, where troubled teens are put into these camps by parents typically who are hoping to help them to turn their lives around. Something about being in touch with nature and being forced to rough it a little bit can sometimes make a huge difference in their lives in helping them to put things into a little better perspective than what they may have had before

  • Draco Dangerous

    Draco Dangerous

    November 30th, 2011 at 8:17 AM

    I could see something like this serving a dual purpose for those of us who have a love for adventure and outdoor activities.Its where we are more comfortable and it would be great to have counseling outside a boring old room where you sit along with your therapist.

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