Physical activity releases similar amounts of dopamine and endorphins, feel-good neurotransmitters, as engaging in risky behaviors, like substance use, reckless driving, and theft. Impulsive teens tend to be thrill seekers and sensation seekers and look for intense emotional experiences to add a sense of adventure to their lives. When they build a tolerance for the pleasure risky behaviors give them, their behavior may escalate. While they are often content with living “on the edge,” their impulsive decisions may lead to problems with relationships, school performance, or law enforcement. Studies suggest that exercise can not only have a similar effect on your mood, it can also help with impulse control, self-awareness, and better decision-making.

What is impulsivity?

Impulsivity refers to a tendency to act without thinking and can involve behaviors that are risky, inappropriate, or poorly thought out. Impulsive teens tend to struggle with planning ahead or delaying gratification. Often they are aware of how their decisions have impacted their lives, but feel powerless to change their behaviors. Impulse control may refer to problems with executive functioning or specific compulsions, like kleptomania, substance use, or disordered eating. Teens who struggle with anger management often have problems with impulse control as well. Many impulsive teens report being bored frequently and need higher levels of stimulation and interaction in order to stay engaged. 

The main features of impulse control problems include: 

  • Repetitive engagement in a behavior despite negative consequences
  • Inability to fully control the problematic behavior
  • Experiencing strong urges or cravings to engage in the problematic behavior
  • Performing problematic behavior to release pressure or feel pleasure

How Can Adventure Therapy Help

Adventure therapy involves a variety of physical activities and team-building initiatives that help students develop perceptions of trust, empowerment, and teamwork. The goal of adventure therapy is not mastery of a skill, but rather building confidence in your learning and problem solving abilities. It pushes teens out of their comfort zones and encourages them to open up about their emotional experiences during the activities, which offers insight into behavioral patterns. With the confidence and skills they gain through adventure activities, they learn outlets to use as positive coping mechanisms to help with their impulsive patterns.

Some of the adventure activities this area offers and that each client might experience through our wilderness adventure therapy program include:


  • Rock climbing
  • Mountain biking
  • Hiking
  • Canoeing
  • Yoga
  • Kayaking
  • Equine therapy
  • Camping
  • Backpacking
  • Orienteering
  • Primitive skills-building
  • Paddle boarding
  • Cross country skiing
  • Snow shoeing


blueFire Can Help

blueFire Wilderness is a wilderness therapy program for teens, ages 11 to 17, grappling with depression, bullying, anxiety, addiction, and other emotional or behavioral problems.We incorporate adventure therapy and family therapy into the program to help students build confidence, improve communication skills, and gain leadership skills that help them repair relationships and rebuild trust with their parents. Our goal is to help teenagers rediscover their inner spark.

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