Adventure-Based Counseling (ABC) is a therapeutic group activities program which provides after-school, evening, weekend as well as summer services to at-risk youth and their families.
A wide range of activities includes problem initiatives, ropes courses, rock climbing, backpacking, and community service. These activities are utilized as an experiential framework from which to teach children and families how to work well with others.
ABC is a strengths-based approach that builds self-esteem, judgment and decision-making skills, communication skills, conflict resolution and pro-social peer affiliation and family team building. ABC operates in collaboration with several area schools and youth service providers. Although there is no cost to the teens who participate or their families, the ABC Program is funded, in part, by the Office of Mental Health of New York State, grant from the United Way of the Adirondack region and other community partners.
ABC was identified in a national research project by Access Measurement Systems (AMS) and Massachusetts Behavioral Health Partnership (MBHP) as the single most effective treatment program for ADHD out of over 300 agencies involved in the research and, as a result, received the Excellence in Service – Outstanding Achievement Award from the New York State Office of Mental Health on December 10, 2001.
Adventure-Based Counseling (ABC) is a group oriented program that helps participants learn to increase self-awareness, accept responsibility for their choices, and connect with others. These outcomes offer a unique opportunity to help adolescents achieve positive therapeutic outcomes.
Learn more about Adventure Based Counseling at BHSN:
Primary Elements of ABC
- Clients are directly involved in their treatment rather than merely observing from the sidelines.
- Individuals receive positive therapeutic benefits from the process because they are motivated to participate in it.
- Ongoing reflection during therapy enhances personal growth and progress.
- The activities that are chosen must teach lessons that are applicable to both past and future experiences.
- The experience is both meaningful and real to the participants because it reflects their real life.
Benefits of ABC
- Trust in oneself as well as others
- Opportunity to model healthy behaviors of therapy staff in a safe, supportive setting
- Sense of personal empowerment and accomplishment
- Ability to work as part of a team
- Increase in leadership skills
- Stronger self-esteem and greater self-confidence
- Greater sense of self-awareness
- Greater problem-solving skills
- Emotional discovery and healing
- Greater sense of self-reliance
- Increase sense of worthiness and personal value
- Better communication skills
- Ability to give and receive constructive feedback
- Ability to set appropriate limits and boundaries
- Ability to cooperate with others to achieve a common goal
- Greater sense of personal responsibility
- Reflect on experiences and learn valuable lessons from them
- Recognition that actions have natural consequences
- Willingness to accept help from others when needed
- More optimistic outlook on life
- More positive attitude
- Appreciation and respect for the needs of others
- Increased ability to face one’s fears rather than avoiding or numbing them
- Improvement in fine motor skills and coordination
- Greater willingness to step outside one’s comfort zone
- Decrease in denial
- Greater focus and attention
- Increased ability to identify unhealthy patterns of behavior
- Greater awareness of personal strengths and weaknesses
Adventure based counseling can be fun, exciting, and challenging. It’s a great way to learn and practice new behaviors, improve your interpersonal skills, face your fears, overcome personal obstacles and challenges, and heal painful emotions. If you’re interested in adventure based counseling for yourself or a loved one, or if traditional therapy hasn’t really worked, contact the program. They can help you determine if it’s a good fit for your needs and goals.
Disorders, Issues and Conditions That Can Benefit
Adventure based counseling can be a very effective treatment for many different mental health disorders, challenging life issues, and other conditions and problems with which people struggle. Studies have shown it to be beneficial in the treatment of:
- Adolescents with substance abuse issues
- Behavioral problems in adolescents
- Juvenile offenders
- Conduct disorders in teens
- Anger management issues
- Eating disorders
- Recovery from trauma
- Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Anxiety disorders
- Individuals with developmental disorders
- Adolescents with emotional problems
- Grief and loss issues
- Adults with substance abuse problems
- Relationship problems
- Issues with codependency
Adventure based counseling can also benefit families in conflict, individuals struggling with low self-esteem or lack of self-confidence, and those who struggle with taking initiative.
Types of ABC
Upstate New York is a vast and beautiful area for your child to explore. From the Adirondack Mountains to Lake Champlain to Cumberland Bay to the AuSable River … there is no shortage of adventure activities to challenge our clients that build skills and confidence. There are several different types of approaches and activities that are utilized in adventure therapy. These include:
- Cooperative activities or games
- Wilderness excursions (e.g. camping, backpacking, hiking in the mountains and other remote areas)
- Problem solving initiatives
- Trust activities
- Outdoor activities (e.g. kayaking, rock climbing and rappelling, horseback riding)
- Ropes courses (high and low)
Each of these activities is designed to be therapeutic in nature. They may focus on fostering communication and cooperation, building trust in self and others, or developing and improving problem-solving skills.
Those interested in learning more about Adventure-Based Counseling should contact our program supervisor:
22 US Oval – Suite 100
Plattsburgh, NY 12903
Phone: (518) 563.8000