Matching the Activity to Client Needs

Selecting an activity that meets the needs of clients is an important skill of the Adventure Therapy (AT) practitioner. The practitioner must be flexible enough to choose and adapt activities as needed to assist clients in reaching their goals through participation in the activity and reflection on the significance of their participation.

Clinical Goals 

Every decision you make is related to the clinical goals of your client. In fact, starting the decision process by considering these goals will guide your work toward intentional choices in activities. The goal or purpose of the activity is the core of the decision regarding when to use it. While a client may, and often does, take the activity in a totally unexpected direction, the practitioner attempts to enter the intervention with an activity that usually leads clients to address particular issues that are german to their goal achievement

Client Interests, Strengths, and Limitations

A practitioner can greatly influence client engagement, level of involvement, and transferability of an activity by applying the practitioner's understanding of a client's interests and strengths to the activities used and how the practitioner decides to facilitate them. Practitioners select activities that are achievable for clients.

Client Development

Consider the stage of the client in the change process, the developmental stage of the client, or the stage in family or group development. Also assess client's level of emotional, behavioral, cognitive and physical development.


Activities are selected in a sequence that supports clients progress toward goals. Previous experience with activities or skills reinforces learning, assists in evaluating the progress of the client, and guides the next steps. Practitioners should make an intentional choice to connect or link activities to client needs.

Activity Structure

Consider what is required of a client to successfully complete an activity. It is often helpful to create a parallel process so what is required to complete the activity successfully is the same things that will be required to achieve the treatment goals. There are times when it is helpful to match the actions, movements, or energy level of the client with the actions in the activity. Yet other times, a practitioner may choose the exact opposite of these actions, movements, or energy levels in order to create a paradox or a paradigm shift. Use a client's words, actions, and typical way of responding to life experiences to adapt interventions that match his or her experiential functioning at that moment in the session.

Activity Presentation and Props

Assess and attend carefully to the expected implications of the props presented and use them intentionally to enhance the experience. Rules, guidelines, safety considerations, space, and time are all issues that you can adapt to meet the needs of your clients. Assess what the activity will require of your client related to their body and the client's readiness and comfort level to participate in the activity. Structure and present the activity to fit the specific needs of the client. Consider your choice of language when presenting activity or props.

Level of Risk

Adapt activities to compensate for what you are seeing in clients related to physical safety and emotional risk. Safety may include considering the physical skills and coordination of the client, responses during previous experiences, and the amount of buy-in or engagement from the client.