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Alex Douglas-Kane shares her experiences and understanding of Discover Nature Awareness

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Here is a further extract from Simon Crisp’s...

International Models of Best Practice in Wilderness and Adventure Therapy on key terms used within the world of Nature-based Therapy.


Adventure Therapy

Adventure therapy as a term is frequently used to include, more-or-less, the entire field of wilderness, outdoor and adventure interventions. Other times it refers to specifically short-term, non-wilderness based non-residential approaches such as ropes course and initiative activities. This becomes confusing, and tends to hide important differences in practice and assumptions about therapy.

Here, I define adventure therapy as a therapeutic intervention which uses contrived activities of an experiential, risk taking and challenging nature in the treatment of an individual or group. This is done indoors or within an urban environment (i.e. not isolated from other man-made resources), and does not involve living in an environment (e.g. participants do not cook their own meals or sleep overnight). The emphasis is on the selection and design of the activity to match targeted therapeutic issues and the framing and processing of the activity (Gass, 1995).

Examples of such contrived activities include group trust, initiative and problem solving activities (see Rohnke, 1984, 1991; Rohnke & Butler, 1995), ropes and challenge elements (low and high), indoor climbing gyms, and so on. I would distinguish adventure therapy by its emphasis on the contrived nature of the task, the artificiality of the environment and the structure and parameters of the activity being determined by the therapist, such as setting of rules, goals and criteria for success or failure. Specific outcomes are usually planned and sought for through careful framing prior to the activity.

In practice, adventure therapy typically utilises metaphoric, strategic and solution oriented paradigms (for specific applications see Gass, 1993), and often addressed specified behaviours such as impulsiveness, assertiveness, substance abuse relapse, etc. Theory of change tends to be based around the systemic concept of ‘disequilibrium’ (Nadler & Luckner, 1992).

Simon Crisp 1996. (p.p. 9 - 10).

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