Treatment centers will often provide clients with adventure experiences which include being outdoors to attending cultural events. These outings are not considered a therapy session unless it is specifically designed to do just that, and then would be classified as “Adventure Therapy.” However, being out of the residence can have a therapeutic outcome, and often help with the healing process.
Being out with other clients, being able to experience life sober, and learning new things can be an essential part of the treatment program. Staff members will be along with clients to ensure the safety of each individual, in case there are triggers, cravings, or behaviors that arise.
Most experiences outside the rehab are places that the treatment center has gone previously and is familiar with the surrounding area- whether it be hiking trails or a museum.
Some clients will not be ready to attend adventure experiences because of medical reasons, such as being in the detox phase or having limited movement. Once cleared by a doctor, they will be able to fully participate.
Adventure experiences and outings in treatment centers include:
- Hiking trails
- Beach excursions
- 12 Step and Recovery meetings
- Horseback Riding
- Shopping Malls
- Miniature Golf
- Go-Cart racing
- Escape Rooms
- Beauty services
The Great Outdoors Near Las Vegas
Near the city is Red Rock National Conservation Area in the Mojave Desert. Red Rock is home to large red sandstone peaks, giving its name. Among its living desert dwelling wildlife, it also has been an area where dinosaurs have been found. Just a few minutes’ drive from Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon is a worldwide geological destination of 195, 800 acres. The red sandstone cliffs are thousands of feet high and approximately 185 million years old made of Aztec Sandstone and formed during the Jurassic Period. The red color on some of the outcrops is because of iron oxide and hematite that change to a reddish color when exposed to the elements.
Throughout the scenic 13 mile drive through Red Rock Canyon, there are a few sites where paleontologists have found evidence of small two-footed dinosaurs and early mammals. This area is wonderful for exploring the local outdoors.
Another nearby outdoor destination is Mt. Charleston which has dozens of hiking trails and even a small winter ski area. Looking westerly from the Las Vegas strip, one can often see the snow-capped peak of Mt. Charleston. The mountain is also used for picnicking, camping, and horseback trail riding.
Adventure Therapy differs from Adventure Experiences because it has the added component of direct therapy through the process of the experience. This type of therapy is classified as “Experiential Therapy.” The experiential therapy uses the adventure sessions in a variety of ways to assist clients in overcoming emotional, mental, and behavioral challenges. It is often abstract as how the experience affects each client and can be just the thing that causes a positive breakthrough with the client.
Some experiential therapies have now been proven to be evidence-based interventions, including the adventure therapies of equine therapy and wilderness therapy.
Adventure Therapy and Adventure Experiences are also known in treatment centers as activity-based, excursions, experiential therapy and outings. Adventure Therapy often is the catalyst for clients to create the needed change in one’s life; as it is kinesthetic in nature and can affect clients on a deeper level for a transformational change.
Post experience in adventure therapy, there is time for reflection, talking with peers, and journaling. Some adventure therapies help with team building, conflict resolution, and learning new skills.
Adventure Therapy is always led by trained professionals and facilitators.
What Makes Adventure Therapy and Experiences Work?
Just being able to get out of residential for a short time, and experience new surroundings, especially out of doors, allows the client to have another perspective. This can help with reflection, gratitude, open-mindedness, mindfulness, powerlessness, being humble, and many other positive outcomes that being in treatment can bring.
Being in nature can help stabilize, ground, and relax clients with the connectivity to their surroundings in a healthy way. Some experiences will gently challenge clients, and those are the times when many feel they have the biggest breakthroughs in treatment. It can raise awareness in the world around them, it can get people to ask for help from others- the single most difficult question that the addict generally has.
Being in a different environment, the client has the time to explore past behaviors and negative thought patterns with the potential to change them. Often in adventure experiences, clients process with the group how the activity allowed them to break through old behavior and thoughts, and that they didn’t expect they could find a way to stay sober by riding a horse, r paddling a kayak.
When the adventures take place in a purely natural environment, it may be able to “slow down” the scattered addict brain and the client can experience as a sense of calm and serenity. Many clients find that they can find a connectivity better when in a less noisy and energetically frenetic environment.
Why Use Adventure Therapy in Treatment?
At many treatment centers around the country, adventure experiences and adventure therapies are becoming more and more popular and utilized. Clinical staff have seen vast improvements, while clients has reported that the adventures and outing that they participated in were what made all the difference in their stay.
Being out of the residential environment is important for the client to participate in for many reasons; it gives perspective, creates confidence, builds independent thinking, replaces old behaviors, can create endorphins, builds self-esteem, helps with conflicts, reduces stress, replaces old experiences, can educate, teaches skills, and validates the principals of recovery.
Some adventure experiences are more challenging than others, and clients do have the choice of how they want to participate. Often, there are options of the degree of which they can face their fears, be physically involved, or be supportive of the group. Some adventures are wilderness based such as hiking or camping. Often at teen rehabs, wilderness adventures are key to their program to help break though addiction issues adolescents face.
There are rope courses, zip lines, rock climbing, and water sports that may be more challenging than yoga at the beach or equine therapy. Whatever the activity, adventure experiences and therapies are beneficial for the addict in recovery.
When in the throws of addiction, people often put aside hobbies and activities that they love to do. The longer they use, the more that they have moved away from these passions and interests. Adventure activities and adventure therapies san spark a renewed interest in these dormant areas and be the catalyst for the addict to remember who they were prior to becoming addicted. Sometimes a client will find a new interest because of the adventure experience and be able to focus on something other than their addiction, which can lead to overall health and well-being, Obsessive thoughts of using can turn to the desire to paddle board, surf, hike, climb, ride, or a myriad of other activities. Activating the physical body and the release of endorphins starts an upward spiral, rather the continuation of going downward. It relieves depression and negative self-talk.
In the transitions of recovery from rehab, either leaving one level- such as residential to an outpatient program- the learned skills and new interests found in adventure experiences will make those transitions easier. Focusing on something beneficial and exciting can be what saves a client from relapsing.
Other than the Outdoors
There are adventure experiences that are not designed to be outdoors at all, but rather services which help the client relax, decompress, and lower stress. This can be done with small shopping trips, beauty salons, getting a massage, acupuncture treatments, going to the movies, go-cart racing, escape rooms, galleries, museums, live theater, comedy clubs, 12-Step meetings, church, city walks, and more.
By attending excursions outside the residential treatment center, it can lift spirits, allow for reflection, learn more about each other, see new things, activate interests, lower stress levels. Most likely the clients’ counselor or therapist will reflect on the outing at the end of the day and “check in” with each of them in a group setting, asking how they feel after their adventure experience.
Most treatment centers find it necessary and beneficial for the well-being of their clients to be able to have some sense of normalcy while they process their addiction in early recovery.
At luxury treatment centers, many times there will be services available to clients at the center, as outside vendors will come in to treat clients with massage, acupuncture, yoga, and other treatments.
The Origin of Adventure Therapy in the U.S.
At the turn of the last century, a Philadelphia hospital used nature as a focus of treatment for their mentally ill clients. A few years later, New York’s Manhattan State Hospital tried a new type of therapy for the isolation of their TB patients and discovered unexpected benefits from the treatment of outdoor tenting and camp-like living. By 1906 the San Francisco Psych Hospital had to move their patients to outdoor facilities such as tents due to the massive earthquake and documented that their health improved dramatically, partially due to the outdoors and partially due to the socialization.
These incidences sparked ideas in the country for a national camping movement as a therapeutic milieu, and centers started integrating adventure experiences to provide positive therapeutic outcomes. By 1946 in Texas, a program was created that solidified the camping experience to be specifically designed for therapeutic outcomes.
John Dewey, a pioneer of experiential education advocated for the Progressive Education Movement whose philosophy is that experience in learning is the foundation to broadening a student’s knowledge and understanding. Experiential education is where the student is the participant and learns by doing, and actively problem solving in order to create increased motivation for learning.
In addition to the Progressive Education Movement, about the same time, Kurt Hahn developed a program known as Outward Bound in Wales, which engaged the student with concepts that the outdoors would provide: challenge, expedition, and journey. This was a consciously creates an experience and valued centered modality, allowing students to learn by doing and in turn create a focus on personal ethics, maturity, and character building. The first Outward Bound school reached the United States in 1962 in Colorado. Twenty years later, the Colorado Outward Bound had a treatment program.
Several therapy interventions and approaches have derived form adventure therapy such as:
- Structural Therapy, Humanism, and Strategic Therapy. Some of the early interventions are controversial because critics found that they “went too far.” Breaking down clients before building them back up as putting added stressors onto them, didn’t always achieve the wanted results. This is currently not the practiced approach for best practice guidelines in Adventure Therapy.
Adventure Therapy holds safety at the core and provides each experience with a trained professional facilitator and staff. If a client has any doubts or fears about the experience they are about to embark on, they are always able to discuss with the staff prior to participating.
Adventure Experiences at Vogue Recovery Center
The first priority for every guest is stabilizing their health and assisting them in feeling better. Once you’re feeling like yourself again we incorporate activities each week to get you out into the fresh air and having interesting and dynamic experiences. Nature walks and hiking in Nevada’s famous Red Rock National Park, horseback riding through quiet desert trails, tours of museums and art exhibits, and even visits to the cool pine-crested peaks of Mt. Charleston are among the variety of trips guests will take as we seek to have intentional and inspiring experiences together. To learn more about our world-class program and luxury approach, call 1-877-437-6408 today.