Adventure Therapy Defined

“You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you will discover will be wonderful: Yourself.”–Alan Alda

Adventure therapy is a therapeutic approach to treating individuals that have issues with inappropriate behavior, cognitive functioning, and much more. It requires clients to get mentally and physically involved in adventure activities.

Often adventure therapy is group or family focused, but it may be individually focused, too. Adventure therapy utilizes the wilderness and outdoor surroundings to help individuals challenge themselves in a healthy way to promote emotional, psychological, and behavioral growth.

 Adventure Therapy at BlueFire

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity.” –John MuirOur National Parks

At BlueFire Wilderness, we use adventure therapy to improve teen lives. By removing the electronic temptations and regular day-to-day struggles at home, BlueFire gives teens the chance to look at the world through a clearer lens. We push our teens to step out of their comfort zone to learn new skills and build confidence.

We use adventure therapy activities such as multi-day hiking, mountain biking, and much more, to help teens gain new perspectives on their ability to complete goals. Through healthy challenge, teens in our adventure therapy program will build new strengths, enhance self-confidence, and grow emotionally, physically, and mentally.

 Research on Adventure Therapy

In a recent study conducted by the University of New Hampshire, it was found that a troubled adolescent is actually safer and less likely to injure themselves in an adventure therapy program than outside of one.

“I’m hoping that this research will counter the public perception that these programs are dangerous…Well-managed programs are not dangerous, they’re not exposing kids to undue risk, and they’re not overusing physical restraints.” –Javorski, man from UNH study

A study conducted by the Paracelsus Medical University Salburg concerning adventure activities that showed promising results about the effectiveness of adventure therapy. The study included two groups of people with a high-risk of suicide. These people went through weeks of adventure therapy activities, such as mountain hiking. The experiment concluded that the monitored group-experience of adventure activities can result in lowering suicide-risk, depression, and feelings of hopelessness.

In a study published in the Therapeutic Recreation Journal, they explored the emotions and perceptions of girls after participating in adventure therapy activities. It was found that girls found not just positive meaning within the activities, but also developed “perceptions of trust, empowerment, teamwork,” and higher self-esteem.

Contemporary Article

In a recent article in the New York Times written by Nicholas Kristof, he details his journey on the Pacific Crest Trail with his teenage daughter. He decided to take this trip after getting annoyed with the grim world around him and needed something to clear the slate in his life.

He explained how there’s been a 30 percent increase in the number of long-distance hiking from just 2013 to 2014. Kristof mentioned the sense of community that develops on the trail with other hikers. He emphasized the healing and rejuvenating feeling that the wilderness gave him on his trip with his daughter.

Adventure Therapy as Defined By…

Your Little Professor






University of New Hampshire Study

Paracelsus Medical University Salburg Study

Therapeutic Recreation Journal Study