Tag Archive: therapies

  1. 6 Types of Outdoor Therapy That Work

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    Using outdoor therapy can make a difference in reaching teens. For some, being active and pushed physically helps them open up emotionally. Others connect with nature and have emotional or spiritual breakthroughs because of being in a different environment. Still others respond well to the group bonding and experiences that occur with outdoor activities that do not happen in typical group settings. However you reach your client, outdoor therapy opens up new possibilities to reach those who do not respond well to traditional talk therapy. Below are six types of outdoor therapy that work.

    #1. Hiking

    Teens who get outdoors and get moving can have more success in their therapy just by being in a natural environment and being physically challenged. Hiking offers unique opportunities for psychoeducation as the physical challenges offer moments to process difficult emotions or previous trauma in an organic way. It also provides the opportunity for both individual and group interaction. Hiking offers a physical metaphor for the journey of therapy—a journey riddled with various challenges, working through the challenges, reaching the destination, and then returning with a sense of wisdom and accomplishment.

    #2. Rock Climbing

    Rock climbing is an activity that can be done indoors on rock walls or outdoors on actual rock terrain. Particularly when done outdoors, climbing falls into the category of adventure therapy, as it involves greater physical effort and more risk-taking. There are also more opportunities to learn trust and cooperation through the actual physical process of climbing. Participants also learn self-reliance and problem-solving skills and develop self-confidence and emotional resilience as a result of the activity.

    The therapeutic potential of the experience is unlimited as the physical and mental limitations of the adolescents are tested through the activity itself. Teens grow mentally and emotionally and receive individual and group mentoring as part of the activity.

    #3. Canoeing/Kayaking

    Canoeing and kayaking both take advantage of the risks and rewards of being on the water, with the level of risk variable depending on the watercourse. Both activities promote cooperation and trust while developing mental, physical, and emotional endurance and resilience. These methods allow for both individual and group mentoring in a therapeutic environment that can range from peaceful to very challenging. Teens often develop an increased sense of self-confidence and are able to create bonds with peers during the activities as well.

    #4. Mountain Biking

    Mountain biking combines a skill that many teens already have–riding a bicycle–with the additional challenge of riding trails. Like other activities, the challenge can be more basic or more intense, depending on the terrain. Mountain biking provides more intense physical exercise with a greater sense of accomplishment at the end of the ride. Therapy occurs primarily before and after the actual activity and can be offered both individually and in a group setting. Participants bond with one another as they struggle together to meet the challenges of each ride, which encourages teamwork and building relationships of trust while increasing emotional strength and resilience.

    #5. Horseback Riding

    Equestrian therapy is a well-known evidence-based practice in the treatment of addiction. The therapy involves learning to care for and getting to know the horses. These activities provide opportunities for non-judgmental, non-verbal interactions with other living beings, as well as developing responsibility, which in turn fosters self-confidence.

    Learning to ride offers more opportunities for both physical activity and therapy and provides a fun distraction from the typical therapeutic environment. Despite the work involved in caring for the horses, teens often respond particularly well to equine therapy, as it allows them to take ownership of their time and efforts and gives them a sense of accomplishment.

    #6. Paddleboarding or Surfing

    Paddleboarding and surfing both provide fun and a challenge through activities that are also manageable for youth. Like other forms of outdoor therapy, physical exercise promotes healing through both individual and group therapy in an inclusive social environment.

    The benefits of developing both physical and emotional strength and resilience come from learning to surf or paddleboard. The added element of the ocean and learning respect and reverence for the power of the waves can be particularly meaningful for adolescents with behavioral issues.

    These therapies are not about producing hikers, rock climbers, kayakers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, or surfers. They are about reaching clients therapeutically by using these various methods of outdoor therapy. Developing skills in these areas can help to create more self-confidence and emotional resilience and give your clients a sense of accomplishment, and these activities can also help your teen clients to have fun while having therapy. First and foremost, however, they are methods of therapy that help you reach clients in meaningful and purposeful ways. These activities help them to process in powerful and unforgettable, often life-changing, ways. These are therapeutic methods that work.

    Getting your teen clients outdoors and allowing them to experience different physical and adventure therapies can help you to reach clients who struggle to communicate through typical talk therapy. The physical demands of these therapies help to increase self-confidence and improve emotional resilience as they powerfully process difficult emotions and heal. Our programs at Sustain Recovery offer extended residential care to teens with addiction and mental health diagnoses. We focus on developing accountability and independence in a structured environment with staff who are passionate about helping teens to grow and heal. Our program offers clients the opportunity to transition back home in a gradual way. We help them connect with support in their communities for long-term success. If you have a client that might benefit from a program like this, call our Irvine, California, facility at (949) 407-9052 to learn more about what we do.

  2. Applying Mindfulness-Based Behavioral Therapies to Youth Addiction Recovery

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    mindfulness therapies

    Mindfulness-based behavioral therapies have become increasingly popular in the U.S. school system over the past decade. Many of these programs use the concepts of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). Mindfulness is the practice of becoming aware of internal or external situations and experiences with an accepting, non-judgmental attitude. This is often accomplished using various meditation exercises.

    Pilot programs in many schools have shown the successful application of MBSR in children. There is a growing interest in applying MBSR to adolescents and teens in addiction recovery programs. Evidence shows that the outcomes are positive in the same way as MBSR in schools.

    MBSR Use in School Intervention Programs

    MBSR is increasingly being applied to different programs in schools throughout the United States. The practice has been successfully applied to behavior therapy, therapy for children struggling with ADHD, and children with learning disabilities. The push towards MBSR began when there was profound evidence of the negative impact of stress and emotional distress on children’s cognitive and behavioral development.

    The amount of evidence promoting MBSR in schools is growing, and many trial programs have already been put into place. This is due to the theory that schools should foster the behavioral, emotional, cognitive, and physical development of their students. Educators, administrators, and psychiatrists have collaborated on the best ways to make the learning environment conducive to fostering all of those aspects of childhood development.

    Even so, many researchers point out that the enthusiasm for MBSR in schools overwhelms the amount of evidence supporting it. The increasing number of pilot programs, books, and articles indicate that adding mindfulness into education is received with great interest and is seen as a potentially feasible, cost-effective, and promising approach.

    Some successful applications of MBSR in schools are:

    • Increased focus in children with ADHD
    • Reduction of stress and depression in children with externalizing disorders
    • Reduction of anxiety and stress
    • Increased social skills in children with learning disorders

    Applying MBSR to Youth Addiction Recovery

    Mindfulness exercises are meant to allow a person to confront negative feelings or urges with acceptance without using a substance. The reason mindfulness looks promising in regards to addiction recovery is that the avoidance of negative feelings is an influence of substance abuse.

    Teaching children to accept these feelings and urges with a non-judgmental attitude provides an insight into what triggers these emotional responses. Becoming aware of these triggers allows a person to become less reactionary, which helps with impulse control. This is important when it comes to preventing relapse.

    MBSR also helps children deal with traumas that can be associated with their drug abuse. Whether the trauma occurred pre-addiction, during, or while in recovery, it needs to be dealt with in order to facilitate rehabilitation. MBSR helps a child deal with trauma because they confront it and accept it.

    Acceptance is not the same as approving of something. It’s not assigning a negative or positive quality to the feeling or action. Acceptance is simply admitting what is. Once a child can be honest with themselves about their feelings or urges, they can prepare themselves to deal with them in more effective and healthier ways.

    Again, many pilot programs have been put in place to develop sustainable mindfulness-based treatment programs. Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement, or MORE, is a program that incorporates mindfulness-based practices to promote recovery in individuals struggling with addiction.

    The program has shown success in the treatment of alcohol, opiate, and nicotine abuse. Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) is another successful program in pilot stages that promotes the use of mindfulness to prevent relapse by increasing a child’s ability to control impulses and cravings.

    The Future of Mindfulness-Based Addiction Recovery

    There needs to be a more substantial selection of studies on mindfulness before anyone can definitively say that treatments based around the concept are in any way superior to others. What the research does suggest is that adding mindfulness exercises into a person’s treatment can improve their motivation for a successful recovery and decrease their chances of relapse. Substantial literature and research is available to make educated decisions on the best way to treat your patients. Mindfulness is not an end-all, be-all. It is just one step towards successful addiction recovery in children.

    The most promising quality of mindfulness-based recovery programs is that there is a vast selection of exercises that can be adopted. This allows a provider to tailor treatment to specific patients. However, mindfulness can also be adapted to group settings. Prolonged use of mindfulness techniques gives children lifelong tools for dealing with negative emotions or urges. This makes success in their recovery even more plausible.

    Interested in learning how mindfulness-based therapy can be a beneficial part of addiction recovery?

    Contact Sustain Recovery today at (949) 407-9052 to learn more about how we utilize evidence-based clinical treatment models to foster successful recovery and an improvement in mental health.

I first met Sayeh in November of 2013 just after my 15 year old daughter had been admitted to a residential treatment program. As part of the program I was required to attend 2-3 AlAnon meetings a week. Sayeh attended the same AlAnon meetings as well as Alumni events as I. It soon became apparent to me that Sayeh had a heart for recovery, program, and God. When I was encouraged to get a sponsor I didn’t hesitate. Dependable, respectful, kind and generous of spirit, she exudes an inner peace that I hope to achieve with her loving guidance, as I work my own program. She is patient, & full of wisdom that she is always happy to share with her sponsees and fellow parents. I am so grateful our journeys brought us together.

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