Health care began to evolve over the last few years to meet the demand for convenient telehealth services. Mental health treatment has also changed in some fascinating ways as it sought to provide a more personal alternative to virtual appointments. Outdoor therapy became a popular solution for meeting in person that allowed people to get together in an open space without having to go into a confined office. Thanks to the number of physical and mental health benefits that it provides, this therapeutic option is here to stay.
At Choice House, we’ve long recognized the benefits of outdoor therapy and have always incorporated this treatment method into our substance abuse recovery programs for men, taking advantage of all that the Rocky Mountains have to offer. As pioneers of outdoor and wilderness-based healing, we want to share why professionals everywhere are now recommending outdoor and adventure therapies as a part of any treatment plan.
how does outdoor therapy work?
Outdoor therapy is a mental health and behavioral treatment strategy that combines traditional talk therapy with the healing power of nature. It takes place outside and may involve hiking, walking, or simply sitting beneath a tree with your therapist. Some programs also include adventure and wilderness-based components that involve a variety of activities, such as camping, rock climbing, kayaking, skiing, weekend-long expeditions and more.
Outdoor therapy provides a refreshing alternative to typical clinical settings, and proponents argue that the change of pace has been good for their clients. Often, people feel more relaxed and at ease when spending time in nature, which makes it easier to open up and tap into a deeper sense of honesty. The outdoors can also help with processing difficult thoughts and emotions. If you’ve struggled with addiction, you know these things aren’t always easy to do, but they’re essential for moving forward in the recovery process.
Outdoor therapy is an umbrella term that encompasses a wide range of techniques used by practitioners across the country, but they all involve spending time outside. Depending on the form, it might be called wilderness therapy, nature therapy or adventure therapy. While outdoor therapy has been around for decades, the pandemic has breathed new life into it. Today, it has been brought into the mainstream as a regular treatment option, allowing more people to experience the therapeutic benefits of open skies and fresh air.
outdoor therapy can be more productive
One of the biggest challenges of addiction recovery is fixating on the past and letting it control your present. Whether it’s focusing on your mistakes, obsessing over certain events or replaying painful memories in your mind, this type of thinking can be harmful to your mental wellness and prevent you from moving forward in your life. For some people, it can also cause misplaced feelings of nostalgia and lead to relapse.
Outdoor therapy has a way of getting people out of the past and into the present moment. This can help you accept things as they are (instead of how you think they should be) and become more mindful of your actions. By learning how to stay present, you’ll also get to know yourself in the here and now while taking things one day at a time, so you don’t feel overwhelmed by the recovery process or find yourself worrying about what the future holds.
Spending time outdoors and walking or hiking with your therapist can also help you feel freer and boost your creativity. Many describe the experience as more authentic and comfortable than sitting across from each other on a couch. Plus, as your thoughts wander, you might discover new insights or find novel solutions for your problems.
health benefits of outdoor therapy
In addition to providing a more scenic backdrop to therapy sessions, studies consistently show how the outdoors improves our physical and mental health. Researchers have found that spending time in nature can lower stress levels while simultaneously increasing subjective feelings of happiness, well-being and satisfaction. Experts say that these effects decrease the risk of anxiety or depression, which is crucial for those in recovery.
Being outdoors is also good for the body. It encourages more physical activity like walking and can help people discover new hobbies or interests. At Choice House, outdoor therapy includes a number of activities such as hiking, rock wall climbing, skiing, kayaking, disc golf or snowboarding. This exposes participants to new things and helps rebuild their confidence while providing unique opportunities for peer bonding.
Finally, nature and outdoor therapy provide a much-needed respite from the drama, distractions and chaos of everyday life. We’re constantly being overstimulated by technology and background noise that can leave us feeling disconnected and lead to poorer mental health. Going outdoors alleviates this burden and reignites an innate sense of connection with the natural world, replenishing our mental and emotional health.
In many ways, the outdoors acts as a kind of co-therapist for mental health professionals, giving clients another therapeutic outlet they can rely on. Often, this makes it just as effective — if not more so — than traditional talk therapy for those dealing with difficult challenges like mental illness, trauma, substance abuse and more. This has given outdoor therapy its staying power and made it a favorite among both therapists and clients.
If you’ve ever wondered about outdoor therapy and how it can help you achieve lasting recovery, there’s no better time to reach out and learn more. At Choice House in Boulder, Colorado, we’ve integrated outdoor and adventure-based therapies into our regular treatment programming to provide men struggling with substance abuse, mental health or trauma with a fun and exciting experience that promotes a deeper sense of healing and renewed personal growth. Combined with our long-term approach and evidence-based techniques, we can help you or a loved one finally end the cycle of addiction. To get in touch with our admissions team, click here or call today at 303-578-4765. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.