Sunday, November 25, 2007

Adventure as therapy

A prejudice I easily slide into, and probably many others with me, is to think of psycho-therapy as activity that involves a couch, a comfy chair and a lot of talk. Therapy, even though it must be all about our emotions, working out as a fundamental cerebral activity. Dr. David van Nuys's podcasts can teach us otherwise. We have already had an issue about art therapy to give but one example. On further thought: every therapist, even when taking the talkative approach knows how to tap into the more emotional and intuitive layers of the client, for any kind of success. Art can be such a great method to let people speak their minds, without too much control of their rational brains.

The latest interview on Shrinkrapradio hands yet another example of such an approach: adventure based psycho-therapy. Therapist Jason Holder takes his clients into the outdoors. Fishing, kayaking, climbing and swinging ropes, climbing walls, they can exercise their hearts content. Thus he makes them confident, builds a good relation with the client, with trust and respect and then the setting is right to get the issues out. Especially with children and adolescents, this approach is working really well.

Jason has published on the subject and represents one of the few who has made information about using the outdoors in a therapeutic way available to the public and the profession. I hope his and other material can be combined into some good studies. I recall Dutch therapists having taken problematic youth on survival trips in the Ardennes (Belgium) in the eighties and nineties. Not always with 100% success, but that is not the point; hasn't this been documented? The basis of the approach seems so obviously sound, there has to be ways to work them out.