Adventure Therapy Programs

Adventure therapy programs can be valuable components of outpatient treatment for addiction. With convenient access to miles of gentle hiking trails and the calming waters of Lake Quinsigamond, Lake Avenue Recovery is an ideal environment for adventure therapy and other outdoor activities.

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What is Adventure Therapy?

Adventure therapy is a type of experiential therapy.

Traditional psychotherapy (or talk therapy) sessions are conversations between trained professionals and one or more patients or clients. In adventure therapy programs, patients and clients may take part in a variety of dynamic activities, usually outdoors.

Depending on the location of the treatment center, the age and ability levels of the participants, and the focus of the session, adventure therapy programs can include a wide range of activities, such as hiking, biking, backpacking, camping, rock climbing, boating, canoeing, kayaking, skiing, surfing, fishing, and ropes courses.

Although recreation and enjoyment can be core components of adventure therapy programs, these are more than supervised leisure activities.

Under the guidance and supervision of a trained professional, adventure therapy participants engage in pursuits that are designed to help them process difficult emotions, address inner vulnerabilities, develop vital skills and insights, and otherwise empower them to achieve improved health.

How Our Adventure Therapy Programs in Massachusetts Work

Adventure therapy programs at Lake Avenue Recovery in Massachusetts are incorporated into comprehensive outpatient treatment plans for adults who have been struggling with addiction and certain mental health concerns.

We fully assess each person’s needs and capabilities to determine which services will best prepare them for improved health and successful recovery. Depending on the information that we gather during these assessments, we may include adventure therapy in an individual’s addiction treatment plan.

The safety of staff and participants is our top priority in our adventure therapy programs – and in all other aspects of care at our addiction treatment center in Worcester, Massachusetts. We thoroughly review all procedures and safety policies prior to starting an adventure therapy session, and participants are closely supervised and supported throughout the session.

Types of Adventure Therapy Programs We Offer

At the moment, the adventure therapy program at Lake Avenue Recovery features two types of activities:

  • Hiking along scenic paths on and around our campus
  • Boating, sailing, and kayaking on Lake Quinsigamond



Who Is a Good Candidate for Adventure Therapy?

Given the wide range of activities that may be included under the umbrella of adventure therapy, almost anyone can be a good candidate in the right circumstances. In general, though, adventure therapy may be particularly appropriate for people who: 

  • Enjoy the outdoors
  • Are enthusiastic and open-minded
  • Do not have any significant mobility concerns
  • Are in good physical condition

Who Is Not a Good Candidate for Adventure Therapy?

Adventure therapy can be modified to meet the needs of a broad scope of participants, including those of various ages and skill levels. However, prior to starting an adventure therapy session, it is important to ensure that each participant will be able to fully and safely engage in the activity.

The following factors may determine if someone is not a good candidate for a particular type of adventure therapy:

  • Age and developmental level
  • Co-occurring mental health disorders
  • Mobility concerns
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Certain intense fears or phobias

Adventure Therapy vs. Wilderness Therapy

Adventure therapy shares a few features with wilderness therapy, such as both being experiential approaches that make significant use of outdoor settings. But there are several important distinctions between these two types of therapy.

For example, adventure therapy is usually just one part of a comprehensive treatment approach. Adventure therapy sessions may be included in a person’s treatment plan along with individual therapy, group therapy, and other experiential therapies. 

Wilderness therapy may be best understood as a level of care. In a sense, it is a special type of residential treatment. Instead of living in a house or a facility, wilderness therapy participants live in tents or other structures. While they are in this outdoor environment, participants may engage in various forms of therapy, including individual and group psychotherapy sessions as well as adventure therapy activities.

The length of the experience is another significant differentiator between adventure therapy programs and wilderness therapy programs. The duration of a typical adventure therapy session is usually a few hours and rarely more than a few days. A wilderness therapy experience usually lasts for multiple weeks, and often for several months. 

Finally, while individuals of all ages may participate in both types of therapy, wilderness therapy is typically offered to adolescents and young adults. Adventure therapy sessions, on the other hand, can be easily modified to meet the needs of adolescents, adults, and seniors.

Benefits of Adventure Therapy in Addiction Treatment

Adventure therapy programs can be valuable components of care for people whose lives have been disrupted by a variety of mental and behavioral health disorders, including addiction. The potential benefits of adventure therapy in addiction treatment include:

  • Awareness: Adventure therapy promotes a healthy mind-body connection. It also helps participants become more aware of their physical and mental capabilities. With the benefit of strict safety protocols, adventure therapy participants can test the limits of their abilities and develop a greater appreciation for their inherent skills and talents. At the same time, they can identify areas of concern that they may want to address in psychotherapy. 
  • Confidence: Active, untreated addiction can have a devastating impact on a person’s self-esteem and sense of self. The activities that are incorporated into adventure therapy programs can help people rebuild their confidence and realize that they are capable of succeeding in areas where they may once have doubted themselves. This sense of confidence and renewed hope can serve a person well throughout their recovery journey. 
  • Connection: Adventure therapy programs are typically group endeavors. In some cases, tasks require participants to work together as a team to achieve a certain objective. In other instances, participants will be simultaneously working on solo tasks. Both of these scenarios encourage connections with others who have had similar struggles and who are working to establish a solid foothold in early recovery.
  • Skills: Adventure therapy often requires participants to engage in effective communication, conflict resolution, stress management, and problem solving. Sometimes, the activity is set up in such a way that these skills must be employed to achieve a predetermined objective. In other circumstances, the need for these skills may arise in a more organic manner. In either case, developing these skills and understanding when and how to use them can be extremely valuable as a person navigates the challenging path of recovery.
  • Time: Spending significant amounts of time seeking, acquiring, and using substances is one of the hallmarks of addiction. One of the challenges of early recovery is finding healthy and productive ways to fill the hours that were previously devoted to substance abuse. Adventure therapy can introduce participants to activities and pursuits that they can continue long after their time in treatment has concluded.

Find Adventure Therapy Addiction Treatment Programs Today

Lake Avenue Recovery is a trusted provider of life-affirming care for adults who have become addicted to alcohol and other drugs. To best prepare each person for long-term success, we offer a dynamic array of customizable therapies and services, including adventure therapy programs. To learn more or to schedule an assessment, please visit our Contact Us page or call our center today.

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