Adventure Therapy

Our adventure guides and recovery team not only take you on the most epic adventures of your life, they take you on an inward journey into your soul, fears, insecurities, and shadow to help you process internally as well as externally, leading you to breakthroughs in your personal growth. From surfing, whale kayaking, jungle hikes and more, these experiences are life-changing.

Adventure Therapy is a unique therapy modality that is proven to create inner self-discovery, breakthroughs in fear, insecurity, doubt and low self-esteem, and creates a deeper sense of confidence, passion, aliveness, and vitality. But most of all, our members tell us the biggest thing it does most of all, is reconnects them back to their feelings again, waking them up to a new sense and awareness of being alive.

Once a week, our guides take us on any one of the adventures:

  • Hiking up a mountain on in the jungles of Hana,
  • Swinging on a rope swing off a waterfall,
  • Swimming with dolphins,
  • Catching a Marlin,
  • Kayaking to see the whales.
  • Surfing therapy (most popular one)

In this program, you’ll experience outdoor activity, natural sunlight, team building, bonding, intimacy, overcoming fears, exercise, experience life to the fullest, achievement and self esteem, all while being taken on an inward journey of self discovery and facilitation by our guides, creating something that only can be experienced. Maui Recovery is a place that real transformation and growth can occur, and this is just one of 6 programs that are included.

Adventure Therapy as a form of Evidence-Based Therapy:

Clinicians who have worked with clients struggling with emotional, psychiatric or addiction issues have long appreciated the healing value of nature immersion as well as the benefits of “fun” recreational activities where a once-isolated, often addicted and emotionally dysregulated (ED) client could experience a deeper sense of connection and joy with experiences that were not related to their addictive patterns of abuse.
Indeed, there is ample research (see citations below) that has proven the clinical efficacy of such experiences. These experiences were often the magic moment when “the shift” occurs and a client gains the internal realization that there is more to life than addictive self-medicating, numbing and escape. In addition, for many struggling clients, there is a profound sense of healing and grounding that comes with re-connecting to nature.
Indeed, Dr. Kardaras–who has long used nature immersion as a therapeutic tool–recalls one particular case:

“I had been working with a young woman who had become horribly and self-destructively addicted to crystal meth. She came from a good family but had been living on the streets for years in many dangerous and abusive situations. She had been to many traditional residential and outpatient care programs where she was ‘therapized’ and talked to by an army of clinicians. And still, she would relapse and wind up in hospitals. Finally, she began integrating nature immersion into her therapy–a sunrise beach walk (or jog) with her therapist. It was on one such walk that she had “the shift”; she broke down sobbing when she fully experienced the overwhelming beauty of the sunrise and said “I feel sorry for the people in my old addictive life who aren’t able to experience this…I don’t want to live like that anymore.” And ever since that moment, she hasn’t. She has just celebrated 4 years clean and sober. We can debate whether it was JUST the nature event–or the combination of nature and therapy–that led to this breakthrough. But what is undeniable is that the nature experience was a CRITICAL component of her shift and personal insight that she no longer wanted to live that addictive lifestyle anymore.”

At Maui Recovery, we try to create a variety of such nature immersion/adventure therapy opportunities where clients can also experience just such a potentially life-saving “shift”.

Adventure Therapy and OBH (Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare):

Adventure Therapy is a form what has come to be known as Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare (OBH), which has been researched and studied extensively for its therapeutic benefit and efficacy (see citations below). Typically, OBH has looked at what is also known as Wilderness programs or experiences for young people, but the same dynamics apply to any type of experiential nature immersive therapy or experience.

Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare (OBH) programs have grown rapidly over the last several decades because they work: 91.4 percent of participants show a significant clinical improvement and, on average, participants significantly improve from intake to 6 months after completing therapy. In addition, in a study published in 2003 by Dr. Keith Russell from the University of Idaho, found that participants showed significant improvement in functioning from intake to discharge and that the gains were maintained one year after discharge.

According to Dr. Steve DuBois, Clinical Director of Second Nature, a wilderness program in Utah: “A big part of this experience is helping people experience for themselves a greater sense of self-efficacy and internal locus of control.” For clients struggling with emotional or addictive disorders, this is a critically important healing dynamic.


Research Citations:

Bettmann, J. E., Gillis, H. L., Speelman, E. A., Parry, K. J., & Case, J. M. (2016). A Meta-analysis of Wilderness Therapy Outcomes for Private Pay Clients. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 25 (9), 2659-2673.

Bettmann, J.E., Tucker, A., Behrens, E., & Vanderloo, M. (2017). Changes in older adolescents and young adults’ attachment, separation, and mental health during wilderness therapy. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 26(2), 511-522. doi: 10.1007/s10826-016-0577-4

Chang, T., Tucker, A., Javorski, S., Gass, M., & Norton, C. (2016). Cultural issues in adventure programming: Applying Hofstede’s five dimensions to assessment and practice. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning.Advance online publication.
Combs, K. M., Hoag, M., Javorski, S., & Roberts, S. (2016). Adolescent self-assessment of an Outdoor Behavioral Health program: longitudinal outcomes and trajectories of change. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 25(11), 3322-3330. doi: 10.1007/s10826-016-0497-3

DeMille, S. M., & Montgomery, M. (2016). Integrating narrative family therapy in an Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare program: A case study. Journal of Contemporary Family Therapy, 38(1), 3-13.

Gillis, H.L., Kivlighan, D. M., & Russell, K.C. (2016) Between-Client and Within-ClientEngagement and Outcome in a Residential Wilderness Treatment Group: An Actor Partner Interdependence Analysis. 53(4), 413-423.

Gillis Jr, H. L., Speelman, E., Linville, N., Bailey, E., Kalle, A., Oglesbee, N., … & Jensen, J. (2016). Metaanalysis of Treatment Outcomes Measured by the Y-OQ and Y-OQ-SR Comparing Wilderness and Non-Wilderness Treatment Programs. Child & Youth Care Forum, 45(6), 851-863.

Hoag, M. J., Combs, K. M., Roberts, S. D, & Logan, P. (2016). Pushing beyond outcome: What else changes in wilderness therapy? Journal of Therapeutic Schools and Programs, 8(1), 45-56.

Liermann, K., & Norton, C.L. (2016). Positive relationship outcomes between parents and adolescent children following a therapeutic wilderness program for struggling teens. Contemporary Family Therapy, 38, 14-22. doi: 10.1007/s10591-015-9371-5

Liermann, K., & Norton, C.L. (2016). Enhancing family communication: Examining the impact of a therapeutic wilderness program for struggling teens and parents. Contemporary Family Therapy, 38(1), 14-22. doi: 10.1007/s10591-015-9371-5

Norton, C.L., & Peyton, J. (2017). Mindfulness-based practice in Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare. Journal of Therapeutic Schools and Programs, 9(1), 7-20.

Norton, C.L., & Tucker, A.R.., Farnham, M., Borroel, F., & Pelletier, A. (2017). Family enrichment adventure therapy: A mixed methods study examining the impact of trauma-informed adventure therapy on children and families affected by abuse. Journal of Child and Adolescent Trauma. Advanced online publication.doi: 10.1007/s40653-017-0133-4

Roberts, S., Stroud, D., Hoag, M. J., & Combs, K. M. (2016). Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare: Client and Treatment Characteristics Effects on Young Adult Outcomes. Journal of Experiential Education , 39(3), 288-302 doi: 10.1177/1053825916655445

Roberts, S., Stroud, D., Hoag, M. J., & Massey, K. (2017). Outdoor behavioral healthcare: A longitudinal assessment of young adult outcomes. Journal of Counseling and Development, 95, 45-55.

Russell, K., & Gillis, H. L. (2017). The Adventure Therapy Experience Scale: The psychometric properties of a scale to measure the unique factors moderating an adventure therapy experience. Journal of Experiential Education, Advance online publication. doi: 1053825917690541.

Russell, K. C., Gillis, H. L., & Heppner, W. (2016). An examination of mindfulness-based experiences through adventure in substance use disorder treatment for young adult males: A pilot study. Mindfulness, 7(2), 320-328. doi: 10.1007/s12671-015-0441-4

Russell, K.C.(2005). Two years later: A qualitative assessment of youth-well-being and the role of aftercare in outdoor behavioral healthcare treatment. Child and Youth Care Forum, 34, 3, 209-239.

Russell, K.C. (2003). Assessing treatment outcomes in outdoor behavioral healthcare using the Youth Outcome Questionnaire. Child and Youth Care Forum. 32, 6, 355-381.

Russell, K.C. (2004). Two years later A qualitative assessment of youth-well-being and the role of aftercare in outdoor behavioral healthcare treatment. Technical Report 1, Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Research Cooperative, School of Health and Human Services, University of New Hampshire, Durham NH. 43 pp

Russell, K.C. (2002). A longitudinal assessment of treatment outcomes in outdoor behavioral healthcare. Technical Report 28, Idaho Forest Wildlife and Range Experiment Station, Moscow, ID. 35 pp

Russell, K. C. (2002). Does outdoor behavioral healthcare work? A review of studies on the effectiveness of OBH as an intervention and treatment. Journal of Therapeutic Camping, Summer/Fall, 2, 1, 5-12.

Tucker, A., Combs, K. M., Bettman, J., Chang, T., Graham, S., Hoag, M., & Tatum, C. (2016). Longitudinal outcomes for youth transported to wilderness therapy programs. Research on Social Work Practice. [Advanced online edition]. doi: 10.1177/1049731516647486.

Tucker, A.R., Norton, C.L., DeMille, S., & Hobson. (2016). The impact of wilderness therapyon physical and emotional health: Utilizing an integrated approach in Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare. Journal of Experiential Education, 39(1), 15-30. doi: 10.1177/1053825915607536

Tucker, A.R., Norton, C.L., Itin, C., Hobson, J., & Alvarez, M.A. (2016). Adventure therapy: Non-deliberative group therapy in action. Social Work with Groups, 39(2-3), 194-207. doi: 10.1080/01609513.2015.1048416

Tucker, A., Paul, M., Hobson. J., Karoff, M., & Gass, M. (2016). Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare: Its impact on family functioning. Journal of Therapeutic Schools and Programs, 8, 21-40. doi: 10.19157/JTSP.issue. 08.01.05

Tucker, A., Widmer, M., Faddis, T., Randolph, B., & Gass, M. (2016). Family therapy in Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare: Current practices and future possibilities. Contemporary Family Therapy, 38, 32-42. doi: 10.1007/s10591-015-9370-6