British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP): Adventure therapy key in battle against disordered eating
By raising levels of self-confidence and motivation for change adventure therapy is a valuable tool in the treatment of women with eating disorders.
This is the finding of research by Dr Kaye Richards and colleagues which will be presented today, Friday 11 September 2009, at the 5th International Adventure Therapy Conference. The event, hosted by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), is taking place from 7-11 September at Pollock Halls, The University of Edinburgh.
The research examined practical ways of working therapeutically outdoors with women who suffer from eating disorders. It also assessed the extent to which participants taking part in an adventure therapy intervention benefited psychologically from the process.
After completing the intervention most participants showed evidence of increased motivation for change, sustained rejection of negative behaviours and thinking patterns related to eating, more positive attitudes to body image, and greater self-confidence and self-awareness. All of these changes meant that their disordered eating symptoms reduced as a direct result of the intervention.
The findings therefore indicate that therapists can work effectively with troubled eating in the outdoors and that such work speeds up the therapeutic process.
Dr Richards said: "This is the first adventure therapy research project and intervention to have been designed specifically for the treatment of women with eating disorders in the UK. It illustrates how working therapeutically outdoors can be used as an intervention and the role it plays in addressing the psychological issues related to disordered eating. It also highlights some of the practical and ethical issues of working in this setting and offers a platform for the future development of research and practice in adventure therapy."