What is Adventure Based Counseling?
Adventure Based Counseling (ABC) is a strengths-based approach that builds an individual’s self-esteem, judgment, decision-making skills, communication skills, and conflict resolution skills. It also works to increase pro-social peer interaction and family or group team building. ABC utilizes experience-based activities to achieve these goals, and its techniques are used in schools and institutions to broaden pedagogical approaches, include more motion and outdoor experiences into education and mental health, and to reduce recidivism for at-risk youth.
ABC techniques include a wide range of hands-on experiences from high ropes courses to mindfulness paddling, an ABC technique currently under development by CORE Adventure Group, that can be practiced individually or in groups. Generally, ABC activities are outdoors, and all activities are hands-on, engaging the body and the mind. According to AlfredAdler.org, the main components of an ABC session include:
- Briefing: leaders give instructions to the group, emphasize the non-negotiable safety procedures, share information in a give-and-take manner, what is said is directly related to the experience/adventure that is about to occur
- Leading: trust exercises, games that foster a sense of fun and cooperation, problem-solving exercises that encourage individual and group initiative, humor/fun, adventure experiences or expeditions, all exercises serve to encourage the improvement of self-concept
- Debriefing: the experience that just occurred is evaluated by the group, everyone typically gets a chance to talk, some debriefings are directive and involve the instructor talking and the students listening, generally operate within a group process and ask questions such as: What did we do? What does it mean? What are we going to do about it in our own lives? These steps can be repeated as needed.
CORE’s Adventure Based Counseling Services
- Individuals, Couples, and Families: CORE provides counseling services directly to the person(s) in need of therapy. Have an individual or family in your practice that is stuck? Send them to us for a day or a weekend of Adventure Based Counseling!
- Practitioners: CORE provides basic training and inspiration for mental health professionals looking to add an exciting tool to their practice. Think Adventure Therapy is expensive and scary? Think again! Come by yourself, bring your client(s) with you, or send your client(s) to us.
- Residential Facilities & Groups: CORE facilitates ABC for residential facilities seeking to add value to their client’s in-patient experience. Why pay an entire staff of recreational therapists? Outsource your ABC department and save money on equipment and personnel!
Adventure Based Counseling for Individuals, Couples & Families
Sometimes, people just need to take it outside! Conflict within the individual or between family members often reaches a boiling point, and an intensive experience or intervention is warranted. Traditional Outward Bound programs can be cost and time prohibitive. CORE is ready to meet your client where they are and create an individualized experience that will inspire those “Aha!” moments and turn down the heat on conflict. Here are some examples:
- A walk: Simple, right? Research has shown that walking while engaging in higher-order thinking increases our ability to process and remember the experience.
- A day or weekend of adventure: We take our clients on epic adventures that increase their sense of independence, strengthen boundaries and effective communication, and inspire them to move forward.
- Couples intensive: We invite couples to spend a weekend on Saint Simons Island or in Dahlonega, GA for intensive conflict resolution, communication skill building, emotional healing, and of course, adventure!
Adventure Based Counseling Tools For Practitioners
The effectiveness of office-based therapy is well-documented, but we also know it has limitations. Offices become familiar. They’re comfy. They’re safe. So, therapy sometimes plateaus as clients adjust to the routine of seeing their counselor in a familiar setting where progress can stall.
CORE breaks the monotony by helping you take your client into less familiar, less comfortable situations where the challenges of their physical setting force them into an awareness of their being and serve as a metaphor for life’s myriad challenges. CORE offers 3 ways to help get “unstuck”:
- You do the counseling: we provide the equipment and support that you need.
- We do the counseling: while you provide emotional support to your client (co-counseling).
- You refer your client to us: for a day or weekend excursion, along with their treatment plan. After the excursion, we provide details of their progress in a therapeutic note.
- Learn to do ABC: CORE’s expert staff will train you to conduct ABC sessions and also teach you to handle the logistics, from planning sessions to proper use and maintenance of equipment.
ABC activities range from a few hours of walk-talk therapy to regularly scheduled outdoor challenges to day or weekend intensives.
Adventure Based Counseling For Residential Facilities & Groups
Many residential facilities offer hippotherapy, climbing walls or ropes courses, and guided hikes as part of the therapeutic experience. These in-house programs are excellent selling points, but are expensive in both man-power and equipment costs. CORE can help in the following ways:
- Outsource to CORE: CORE creates, staffs, and manages therapeutically appropriate adventures tailored for your facility, at either on-site or off-site locations.
- Create your own ABC program: This is our Level I Training. CORE will teach you to set up a program of your own. Our expert staff will assist with program development, equipment purchasing, use, and care, budgeting, and marketing.
- Enhance Your ABC Program. This is our Level II Training. Our experts at CORE will train your therapeutic staff to utilize ABC in their everyday practice at your facility, utilizing the resources already at hand.
Adventure Based Counseling Summary
- Adventure Based Counseling (ABC) is a strengths-based approach that builds an individual’s self-esteem, judgment, decision-making, communication, and conflict resolution skills, as well as increase pro-social peer interaction and family cohesiveness.
- ABC utilizes outdoor experience-based activities to achieve these goals in conjunction with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Person Centered Therapy, Solution-Focused Brief Therapy, and many other therapeutic modalities.
- All diagnosis and cognitive levels are appropriate for ABC.
- ABC is a science-based tool for helping clients of all ages and abilities engage their mind and bodies to find innovative solutions to their problems.
- CORE Adventure Group offers ABC for individuals, couples, and families
- CORE works with office-based practitioners to teach them ABC, help with clients that might benefit from ABC, and ensure continuity of care.
- CORE works with Residential Facilities and large groups to assist with the development of enterprise-level ABC programs.