Bush adventure therapy for adolescents combine bush adventure as well as general therapeutic approaches in order to promote the physical as well as the social well-being of young people. Bush adventure therapy programs include physical activities such as bushwalking, paddling, swimming and the likes based on the fact that people gain a lot of physiological, social, and mental benefits from being in contact with nature.
It’s a good starting point and companion for therapy. For example, being in nature greatly reduces the stress and mental fatigue that young people could be suffering from. It has a calming nature and relieves stress, which encourages introspection and helps young people to be more open to therapy.
Therapeutic vs. Therapy
While there are programs that are therapeutic in nature, it’s also important to recognize the fact that therapeutic is not the same as therapy. Therapeutic programs cannot exactly give the same benefits as programs that include psychotherapy in the process. There are times when therapeutic outdoor activities can be good for the mind and body, but signing up your teen for such program when what they need is therapy can be quite counterproductive.
Good bush adventure therapy programs recognizes the fact that their participants would be taking great physical and emotional risks while on bush adventures, which is why they take extra precautions based on the psychotherapy evaluation made beforehand. It would be risky to take a teen with ADD/ADHD out to adventure therapy without understanding his unique needs and having no trained professionals assisting. Applying a standardized approach rather than an individualized one based on individual psychoanalysis is not just potentially unhelpful but also dangerous.
Should you decide to explore bush adventure therapy for adolescents, it’s important to know if a program self-identifies as a therapeutic program because of the fact that nature is therapeutic, or if it is a program that incorporates therapy. The bush adventure therapy framework of the program should be licensed and accredited, and their goals and methods should be clear.
As a coherent socio-ecological approach to therapy, bush adventure can be quite successful in the sense that young people who are part of the program can also use their experience outdoors to develop socialization skills. They can gain a positive sense of accomplishment outdoors which somehow isn’t as easy to attain in a more restrictive environment. Furthermore, young people can be encouraged to pursue a healthier, more wholesome lifestyle. Some aspects of modern life, unfortunately, contribute to some of the stress people feel everyday. Fatty foods, artificial lights, almost exclusively indoor entertainment, and the likes. Young people who go through bush adventure therapy for adolescents feel refreshed and envigorated after the program, and somehow are encouraged to pursue a healthy lifestyle in order to feel this way again.
Overall, bush adventure therapy for adolescents or what could be called as wilderness therapy adventure in some countries is beginning to gain worldwide recognition because of its success in engaging struggling young people and inspiring change through participation.