What did your teen used to love to do? Maybe they played a sport like soccer or basketball. Or maybe you’re hoping they’ll find something they love that keeps them away from unhealthy social activities. That’s where adventure therapy can help. In order to maintain lasting changes, teens must feel motivated by the healthier habits they want to adopt. Adventure therapy requires active participation to help teens explore their hobbies and discover what they are passionate about. This helps teens with mental health struggles and unhealthy coping mechanisms shape long-term goals.
If you are interested in learning more about how our mindfulness-based program may be a good fit for your teen, this guide is meant to be comprehensive, but as such, not every section will be applicable to everyone. Instead, we invite you to click on the links in the table of contents to jump to the sections that most interest you.
Adventure therapy is a form of therapeutic intervention that utilizes experiential activities involving perceived risk and that are both physically and emotionally challenging. Adventure therapy programs work by creating peak experiences where students experience feelings of overwhelming mastery & flow or being in the zone. These adventure activities are used to reignite old passions and spark new ones.
Examples of Adventure Therapy at Red Mountain Colorado
An adventure therapy model in a residential treatment center involves recreation outings in the community that complement other therapeutic programming, rather than as the main form of therapy.
At Red Mountain Colorado, adventure therapy and wilderness therapy is all about learning to have fun with others through, working as a team, and becoming more confident. Twice a week, your teen will experience safe recreational activities that challenge them and help them grow in ways they never thought possible.
Some of the adventure activities that RMC offers include:
Hiking in the mountains
White water rafting
How Does Adventure Therapy for Teens Work?
While the adventure activities are rewarding by themselves, there is a much deeper therapeutic reason for them. Part of what your teen is struggling with is the lack of a healthy outlet for their stress and frustration. They develop unhealthy stress patterns, act out and make poor decisions.
Our teen adventure therapy works by breaking up these old stress patterns and replacing them with healthy, functional ones. These new thought and behavior patterns are created in this way:
Activities like rock climbing serve as a challenge that increases your teen’s stress, but in a safe and controlled way.
A certified adult assists your teen to help them complete the task and resolve the stress.
By repeatedly having the successful resolution of stressful situations, following trusted adults to success becomes a new pattern for them.
Benefits of Adventure Therapy
Adventure therapy appeals to teens who have trouble staying engaged in a traditional therapeutic environment. They may feel restless sitting down for long periods of time, struggle with articulating their thoughts and feelings or have trouble trusting authority figures in a structured setting. Teens often learn better by doing than by talking about their experiences, especially as it helps them learn how to stay in the moment.
New Challenges that Address Your Teen’s Stress
In traditional therapy, it can be difficult to fully bring to light the old stress patterns and behaviors your teen has adopted. Adventure activities like rock climbing and white water rafting provide a new setting for your teen to uncover these negative behaviors and actively work to change them. In experiential learning, teens become more self-aware of how these challenges show up in their everyday lives and are better able to pinpoint their triggers.
These adventure activities come with a level of perceived risk and are meant to challenge your teen both physically and mentally. These experiences help your teen develop trust with the adults who are running the activities and monitoring their safety. As staff often participate in the activities as well, it breaks down the “power differential” and helps them form relationships on mutual ground.
Development of New Stress Resolution and Coping Skills
Every time your teen participates in these activities, they learn teamwork and self-efficacy skills they’ve never had before. And when they’re done, they walk away feeling proud and accomplished. These feelings of empowerment and strength give your teen a new sense of purpose.
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How Teen Adventure Therapy Supplements Individual Therapy
During their stay at Red Mountain Colorado, your teen’s adventure therapy experiences and outcomes are one facet of the 42 hours of experiential therapist-led interventions they engage in each week. Your teen’s therapist will help them process their adventure therapy sessions and help them discover ways they can utilize these experiences in productive ways outside of treatment. In addition to traditional talk therapy, Red Mountain Colorado offers daily mindfulness practices, yoga, art therapy, equine-assisted therapy, interactive processing groups, and experiential family workshops.
Healing and Empowerment Awaits at Red Mountain Colorado
Adventure therapy provides experiences your teen will take with them for the rest of their lives. It’ll make your teen feel strong and fit and help improve their confidence and abilities. But most importantly, it’ll spark new passions or reignite old ones that can help your teen stay healthy.
Taking a holistic approach that focuses on the bigger picture helps teens do more than just stop relying on negative coping mechanisms. Adventure therapy is one of the first steps on a teen’s journey to heal their mind, body, and spirit.
Red Mountain Colorado is a leading residential treatment center for teens ages 13-17, built on the shoulders of some of the most experienced and well-respected individuals in the field of adolescent and young adult treatment.