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Adventure Therapy Group
For Pandemic Recovery

An Outdoor Experiential Processing Group

The pandemic has taken a toll on our mental health. We experienced social isolation, change in our societies functioning, grief, fear, and many reminders of systemic issues (racism, sexism, etc). These significant stressors have left many feeling chronically stressed. In this group we aim to:

  • Process our experiences of the pandemic

  • Refresh social skills & increase confidence

  • Practice skills for recovering from chronic mental health strain

 

Processing takes place in the context of adventure-based activities. This group is LGBTQ+ affirming and diversity welcoming. Please note that this group is physically active and requires participants to be able to walk up to two miles in the forested park setting. Not all group settings can be reached by public transit, so having transportation available is helpful. Groups typically consists of 4-8 participants and takes place within various parks and public spaces in Portland, OR. Read about group therapy fees here.

Adventure Therapy

Activities

While many activities can fall under the term "Adventure Therapy", our group may engage with the following:

  • Hiking

  • Experiential team-based activities (think of low ropes challenge course elements)

  • Scavenger hunts

  • Primitive skills

  • Sunrise/ sunset viewings and reflections

Group Format

​A group typically 

All participation is voluntary, and participants are always welcome to say "pass" or opt out of any planned group exercises or discussions. We take breaks on the trail to provide time to rest, reflect, and share.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benefits

Research shows that time in nature benefits our mental well-being, including decreasing anxiety and stress, calming the nervous system, improving mood, increasing self esteem, and improving a sense of connection to the natural world. 

Past participants report expanding self-awareness, developing more helpful thought patterns, developing an increased capacity for emotional expression, developing healthy interpersonal boundaries, learning and developing practical tools for emotional well-being.

COVID Protocol

Participants should be comfortable in a group setting and wearing a mask (due to COVID) for the duration of the session. Social distancing will be practiced, and the group will take place 100% outdoors. If a participant has been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID, or has any symptoms that may present a COVID symptom concern, they should not attend group.

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Can I join?

Individuals who typically thrive in this group are:​

  • Comfortable hiking and being outdoors

  • Relatively comfortable trying new activities and engaging with others

  • Have a desire to improve their mental well-being

  • Willing to wear a mask and practice social-distancing (due to COVID)

  • Able to communicate needs, preferences, or request accommodations to the Facilitator

  • In good physical conditioning and do not have any serious health concerns that would interfere with being able to walk up to 2 miles at a time

A screening intake session (one on one) is required before the first group session to ensure proper fit, alignment with goals, and to provide more detailed information about the group. The intake session is charged at the same rate as the group session. If it is determined that the group is not a good fit, a referral to an appropriate group will be made. Submit an email, call, or contact form to request a spot in the next group opportunity.

Image by Krisztina Papp

WHERE?

This group takes place at various outdoor locations in Portland, Oregon. The exact meeting location is shared after a participant has completed an intake session. We do this to protect confidentiality and location of participants.

Image by Jon Flobrant

WHEN? 

Group time may vary depending upon the time of year, when the sun sets, etc. Group sessions range between 1.5 and 2 hours depending on the time of year a group takes place.

Image by Naassom Azevedo

WHO? 

This group is offered to adults ages 21+. Participants should feel comfortable wearing a mask and being socially distanced (due to COVID), be relatively comfortable in the group setting, and have good overall health, with an ability to walk at least 2 miles. Most participants are involved in their own individual therapy (with another counselor or with me) in addition to being in the group.

Hikers
  • What do I need to bring to Hiking Therapy sessions?
    Depending on the time of year, different items may be helpful. In general, it is helpful to have: shoes or boots that are comfortable to walk in, clothing that is appropriate for the weather, a water bottle, snacks, a small pack to carry group materials in (there may be handouts in session). During the warm months there may be mosquitoes present, so layers or using bug spray may be helpful.
  • How do we approach privacy and confidentiality?
    During the screening process we discuss privacy and confidentiality issues. Hiking routes and meeting locations are chosen with intention to avoid being overheard by others. Each individual is informed of the risks and benefits and consent to treatment taking place outdoors after receiving a full briefing and discussing questions or concerns.
  • What are the benefits and risks?
    The benefits of Hiking Therapy involve decreasing anxiety and stress and improving overall mental well-being. This type of therapy allows participants to deepen their connection to the natural world, practice mindfulness skills, gain perspective, connection, improve self-esteem, and engage the body in beneficial physical movement. The risks of this modality of therapy include, but are not limited to physical injury, exposure to natural elements, including weather, and being in a public space. Risk management is addressed within the screening process and each participant makes an informed decision regarding consent before joining the group.
  • What about bad weather?
    If there are hazardous conditions such as high wind, hazardous air quality, flooding, snow/ice, a session may change to telehealth format or be rescheduled. Participants will be notified or any changes.
  • How long has this group been around?
    Aimee began working as an Outdoor Adventure Guide in 2009, practicing experiential learning with teens in the great outdoors, guiding youth through whitewater rafting, on challenge course elements, and through rock climbing and rappelling. Aimee began the Hiking Therapy Group in 2021, and it has been running year round since then.
  • Did you invent Hiking Therapy?
    No! Hiking Therapy is a subset of both Ecotherapy and Adventure Therapy. Adventure therapy typically is considered an experiential type of therapy, meaning, we are physically experiencing activities that we then debrief and talk about how to apply to out lives. Most activities that we engage with allow us to work with others, reflect, and take away some type of insight or application. Ecotherapy is all about understanding the systems that we live within and how our connections to the natural world impact our mental well being.
  • Can I bring my dog?
    The group rules do not allow for dogs to attend the group, however, I would be happy to have your dog with us in an indiviual hiking session at the trail and/ or to meet your dog via a telehealth session.
  • Do I need to commit to attending every group session?
    Yes, this is ideal for the group to build trust and to have enough participants to run smoothly. You will be informed of the time commitment before you sign up.
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