Ricky Santiago, a specialist in adventure therapy, joined us for this episode of The Addicted Mind podcast. He uses specially planned and designed activities such as kayaking, snorkeling, and ropes courses in his adventure therapy sessions. Experiential therapy like adventure therapy maximizes the benefits of group therapy by building self-esteem, utilizing metaphors, and providing an arena to practice coping skills and process emotions. Ricky and his colleagues have often found more success through one experiential therapy session than through several talk therapy sessions because clients are not able to hide their true selves when they are participating in an activity that is challenging to them mentally, emotionally, or physically.
Since the therapist is participating in the activity as well, the clients see how the therapist handles their emotions and difficulties they come across, and clients can more easily open up about fears or challenges in their own lives or experiences. Though the timing of the formal “processing” aspect of the therapy session differs depending on the activity and the group, this is a crucial step for clients to take as they draw parallels from the adventure activity to their own lives, perhaps realizing things that they never had or being willing to share a trauma that they had never voiced. The effects of the treatment are ongoing, as the client will continually draw on their experience as they approach the problems in their lives and take steps to resolve the situation, just as they had been taught.
Ricky encourages everyone to remember that recovery is possible and pursuing the treatment you need can change the trajectory of your entire family if you show up motivated and ready to work toward healing.
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