Many of our clients come into treatment with a long-standing inability to form healthy and meaningful relationships with other men. Many of our clients come in with unresolved relational trauma that occurred during childhood; trauma that has deeply (and often unwittingly) affected the nature and quality of all interpersonal relationships since it occurred. In some cases, the inability to form profound and emotionally rewarding bonds stems from a lack of self-esteem – sometimes from a lack of personal identity. Sometimes it stems from deep-seated mistrust, or an inability to be honest. Whatever the reasoning, the crucial capability of genuinely connecting to members of the same sex often seems to be misplaced.
Learning to Connect
One of the most vital components of continued recovery lies in our ability to connect with other human beings. When we first enter into recovery, we must essentially tear down all that we knew (or thought we knew) and start from scratch. We learn to take care of ourselves; we learn to meet our own personal needs. We learn the life skills necessary to function in society. No, not just function… contribute and thrive. And finally, we learn how to maintain healthy and functional relationships. We learn to communicate, to set boundaries, and to resolve conflict. We learn to connect over similarities and we learn to put our differences aside. Without relationships, we have scant chance of long-term recovery. We need to lean on others in order to get well… just as others will inevitably need to lean on us.
After arriving at the safe house in Georgia, the Resident Managers confirmed the plans for the weekend ahead – white water rafting on Saturday and zip-lining on Sunday. Everyone awoke in anticipation Saturday morning, looking forward to a thrilling day on the water. Piling into the van, they headed off to Tennessee for an afternoon of adventure therapy.
Adventure therapy is an active and experiential approach to group counseling or psychotherapy, during which an activity is utilized as a method of deeper bonding. Adventure therapy includes such activities as ropes courses, outdoor expeditions, and group games, and employs psychological and physical risk (real or perceived) to help bring a group of individuals closer together. This unique therapeutic method has been relatively prominent since the 1960s, and the underlying philosophy is directly linked to experiential therapy. Adventure therapy has been repeatedly proven to increase self-esteem, improve trust and help seeking behavior, and instigate pro-social comportment. So, without even recognizing that they were actively participating in hands-on therapy, our clients spent the entirety of the weekend strengthening their bonds with one another, as well as improving self-concept.
And, of course, they also learned just how fun and rewarding recovery can be!
Escaping Irma for Adventure Therapy
Zip-lining was an equally successful endeavor, and several of our clients and Resident Managers alike were able to challenge personal fears. The sense of accomplishment that comes from facing the source of anxiety head-on is a great way to further bolster self-esteem. Except for our lead Resident Manager, Andy, who decided that the dread he experienced while zipping through the Tennessee treetops was not worth any amount of self-satisfaction.
As of now, the men will be staying in the safe house through Thursday or Friday. They are able to actively participate in 12-step meetings while there, and everyone is in exceptionally high spirits! Stay tuned for more updates.