As mentioned above, a credible wilderness adventure therapy program will provide a comprehensive method for treatment and to encourage self-efficacy, healthy relationships and autonomy. These programs can increase the depressed young adult’s self-esteem, as well as provide a place to work on negative behavior patterns and develop successful communication methods while accomplishing adventure based tasks.
These activities often include outdoor living, outdoor education, expeditions, team and leadership courses, among other activities. Therapists assess problems and provide therapy throughout these activities and teach skills that will contribute to personal and group success. They often learn “hard skills’ and ‘soft skills”–hard skills being that of cooking food, following a map or building shelter, and soft skills learning teamwork, gratitude, openness, among other emotional and intellectual tools.
Furthermore, a wilderness adventure therapy can be highly effective when treating depressed young adults because it incorporates the following elements:
- Clinical Support
- Wilderness Environment
- Sequenced Adventure Activities
- Cultural Immersion
Through this approach, wilderness adventure therapy separates young adults from the negative influences that can often have an impact on their behavior or depression, and places them in the outdoor environment that is safe and encourages growth beyond their current state. They are not just put in the middle of nowhere and told to survive, but rather supported and challenged in activities that help them overcome challenges and build self-esteem.
Pure Life Aspiro
An example of a credible wilderness adventure therapy program is Pure Life Aspiro, which incorporates all 4 of these elements. Clinical Support is enlisted in the program with licensed counselors and professionals to provide support to the young adults throughout their journey. The wilderness environment is in Costa Rica, known by recent studies as one of the happiest countries in the world. Adventure activities in the program are a wide variety, with surfing, sea kayaking, white water rafting, among other certification courses. Cultural immersion is achieved by community outreach service projects and a cultural homestay in which young adults can actually stay with Costa Rican families. The Pure Life Aspiro program is truly unique in threading together wilderness therapy and adventure therapy into Wilderness Adventure Therapy (WAT) to provide a balanced and effective treatment for young adults.
Identifying depression in your young adult can be a difficult process for any parent. Watching your son or daughter who was once happy and motivated slip into a depressed and agitated state can be hard to bear. For this reason alone, it is absolutely crucial to identify and seek treatment for your depressed young adult before it leads to life-altering decisions and behaviors. At home, it is important for parents of depressed young adults to communicate and support their child, while also seeking the professional help their son or daughter needs. When talk therapy and medication just are not enough, wilderness adventure therapy can provide a supplemental and highly effective method of treatment to get your young adult’s life back on track.
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