Intervention: Adventure Activities

This section introduces activities as the primary mode of intervention and the primary catalyst for change in adventure therapy. Each section defines a category of activity, why that activity could be selected, and practitioner guidelines. These activities are not limited to one specific application and can be used in conjunction with one another. Critical components for all adventure activities include, but are not limited to:

  • Physical and emotional safety (Alvarez & Stauffer, 2001) 
  • Clear therapeutic intent (Priest & Gass, 1999, 1997; Luckner & Nadler, 1992; Schoel & Maizell, 2002). 
  • Effective facilitation (Lung, Stauffer & Alvarez, 2008; Brown, 1999). 
  • Client preparation for activities 
  • Clear behavioral expectations 
  • Engagement of the client (Alvarez & Stauffer, 2001). 

Practitioner Guidelines
The hallmark elements of adventure activities include a sense of the unknown, an element of real or perceived risk, and an element of mental or physical challenge. A practitioner will attend to all of these elements and consider how they intersect with the treatment outcomes desired.

Practitioner guidelines are discussed that are relevant to all activities used in the application of adventure therapy.

Categories of Adventure Activities
The diversity of activities available to the adventure practitioner is so great that it would be difficult to capture all activities or even all types of activities. Creativity and adaptation are at the heart of adventure work. The following pages are an attempt to give substance and definition in a way that is useful in gaining an understanding of adventure activities, reasons for their use, and practitioner guidelines for using them.

  • Cooperative activities (games, ice breakers, de-inhibitors) 
  • Initiatives 
    • No Prop and Low Prop Initiatives 
    • Low Constructed Initiatives
  • Trust Activities 
  • High Constructed Elements 
  • Service Learning 
  • Solo 
  • Natural Environment/High Adventure Activities 
  • Expeditions

Connection to Treatment Outcomes
The use of adventure activities as an intervention allows for great flexibility in how each activity is utilized in treatment. The combination of the activity with varying facilitation choices can allow one activity to be employed for several different intended treatment outcomes. Therefore, each activity section of this site identifies several reasons why that category of activity may be used but this in no way indicates that those reasons are the only potential uses of the activity. More information about intended treatment outcomes common to a wide variety of adventure activities is available in the Treatment Outcomes section.