Adventure therapy is a form of individual or group counseling that seeks to assist people in exploring thoughts, feelings, ideas and activities within an environment that is controlled and therefore perceived as safe. Therapy of this type has proven helpful in overcoming self-esteem issues, various types of social phobia, and in assisting patients to adjust to new life circumstances. The ultimate goal of adventure therapy is to help the patient expand his or her worldview and embrace all the possibilities that are currently open and available.
In order to accomplish this goal, adventure therapy can take on many different forms. For people who find themselves limited by phobias, the therapy can often take the form of games designed to explore the underlying causes of the phobia and begin to defuse them. At the same time, the therapeutic approach may also involve helping the patient to break free of older perceptions and begin to experience settings that are currently viewed as threatening as manageable and possibly even agreeable. Over time, the games or activities help to modify the way the phobic individual functions internally and externally, thus minimizing or even eliminating the phobia altogether.
Some of these same games and activities can also be employed with people who deal with a severe lack of self-confidence in one or more aspects of their lives. By arranging supervised activities and using different games, the patient can incrementally begin to find that he or she does possess the basics needed to function in a given situation, or is at least capable of learning the necessary skills with relative ease. As the individual begins to feel empowered, a desire to engage in activities that were once sources of despair or fear can become sources of satisfaction and a sense of belonging or well-being.
There is no one proper way to employ the general principles of adventure therapy. Psychotherapy and physiotherapy may incorporate elements into the treatments administered to patients with a wide range of issues. The games, learning activities, and guided adventures into unknown territory can be conducted in a group therapy setting or one-on-one with the therapist. Friends may come together and use adventure counseling to overcome issues in their relationships. In the same manner, this form of counseling can work very well with family therapy.
The underlying premise of any type of adventure therapy is to help individuals overcome whatever obstacles are preventing them from enjoying mental and emotional balance. By using the different techniques that define the basic therapy, it is possible to move past shyness, feelings of worthlessness, fear of trying new things, or an inability to develop strong and lasting relationships. As with any therapeutic process, adventure therapy is usually not an overnight phenomenon, but will take time to begin effecting changes in thought processes and making a positive difference in the life of the patient.