How Can Adventure Therapy Techniques Help Prevent Behavioural Health Challenges?

As rates of mental health diagnoses, suicide risk, and other behavioral health challenges have increased, researchers and program developers have begun to explore the possibility of using adventure therapy techniques in the prevention of behavioural health risks. These programs have utilized experiential activities such as wilderness expeditions, group work, challenge courses, kayaking, and cycling to deliver of prevention programming. This presentation will explore Dr Cavanaugh’s doctoral research from Michigan State University on adventure-based prevention. Themes that emerged from his research relate to ethics, equity, and inclusion in adventure-based prevention programming. Join adventure therapy scholars Dr Cavanaugh and Dr Dobud to describe how adventure-based prevention programs can help to prevent behavioural health risks. They describe how an increased focus on improving ethics, equity, and inclusion in adventure-based prevention programming can respond to former critiques of the broader field of adventure therapy for lacking exclusivity and ethical oversight. Recommendations are offered for adhering to ethical codes in both adventure therapy and the helping professions.

Dr Daniel L. Cavanugh’s research is related to the use of adventure therapy techniques in mental illness prevention curricula. He has previously worked as a community and school-based mental health therapist using adventure therapy techniques to help economically disadvantaged young people in the Portland, Oregon area. When he is not working, he is usually chasing powder stashes at Mount Hood or searching for something to climb in the Cascadia region.

Will Dobud PhD is a social work lecturer with Charles Sturt University and founder of True North Expeditions, Inc., an adventure therapy organisation based in South Australia. Will’s research focuses on improving outdoor therapy outcomes and client experiences. Will is the co-editor of Outdoor Therapies: An Introduction to Practice, Possibillities, and Critical Perspectives.

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