What Is Adventure Therapy

Combining Adventure & Evidence-Based Therapeutic Practices

So, What Is Adventure Therapy?

Adventure therapy is an approach to the treatment of individuals that struggle with problems, such as inappropriate behavior, issues with cognitive functioning, and much more. Adventure therapy gets participants involved mentally and physically through adventure activities, like bouldering and backpacking.

This therapeutic approach uses natural surroundings as a tool to promote true change within individuals in a healthy environment. Adventure therapy is a way to spur emotional and behavioral growth.


“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”  ― Albert Einstein

Wilderness & Adventure Therapy
“Often it isn’t the mountains ahead that wear you out, it’s the little pebble in your shoe.” ― Muhammad Ali

Adventure Therapy At Trails


At Trails Carolina, we remove the overwhelming stimuli and everyday stressors to leave our teens with a clearer view of the world around them and themselves. We use a multi-disciplinary team to guide them on their physical, emotional, and psychological path through adventure therapy at Trails.

We encourage our teens to break out of their comfort zone and welcome new experiences to help them build self-esteem and new life skills. Our adventure therapy method helps troubled teens tap into their untouched potential and develop new perspectives of themselves and their surroundings.

Outdoor Activities & Wilderness Adventure Therapy

rock climbing therapy

Guided Expeditions: These can be exploratory or camping trips that are often done in groups and supervised by trained wilderness staff. These short expeditions provide opportunities for experiential learning. Students can develop wilderness skills like fire building, how to use a bow drill, mountaineering, and navigation. Students can practice survival skills and teamwork in ways that foster trust and cooperation.

Adventure Activities: Wilderness therapy programs may also involve adventure activities like hiking, ziplining, fishing, and boating. These activities provide opportunities to practice healthy coping skills while facing physical and emotional challenges. Plus, they are fun and promote group bonding!

Outdoor Recreational Activities: Wilderness therapy may include games and problem-solving activities that are designed to increase self-esteem, self-discovery, and self-confidence through the process of overcoming challenges and obstacles. Other outdoor activities include rock climbing, cooking over a campfire, and hiking.

Trails Carolina’s Adventure Programs are dedicated to helping adolescents and teens work through behavioral or emotional difficulties, build trusting relationships with their family and peers, and achieve academic success.

wilderness adventure therapy

Adventure Therapy Research

In an article from the Huffington Post titled Why Do People Climb Mountains?, Eivind Kjørstad explains the various reasons for why he climbs/hikes up mountains. His reasons include: it’s a way to stay physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy. He says simply hiking is a great way to gain a feeling of comfort, empowerment, and even a way to meditate.

Kjørstad explains that finishing something like a hike, reaching the top of a mountain, or other adventurous activities give him a sense of accomplishment. It boosts your self-esteem and improves self-image. It’s also a way to gain comfort, sense nature is usually something that stays the same while the modern world is constantly changing.

Understanding the Impact of Wilderness Therapy on
Adolescent Depression and Psychosocial Development, a study conducted by the Loyola University of Chicago, found that participants in adventure therapy felt that the adventure and challenge aspect of their therapy was the driving force that made them change their behaviors for the better.

Therapeutic Effects of Participating in an Adventure Therapy Program, a study, by the Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin, found that the effects of adventure therapy programs were beneficial to those struggling with behavior issues and low self-esteem. Those that participated in adventure therapy activities had higher levels of self-esteem and more control over their emotions.


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Trails saved my daughter’s life. Amanda is an amazing human and a brilliant therapist. I am so grateful to her, Science Steve, and the other wonderful people who could reach my daughter at a time when I could not.

Margot Lowman August 2022

Great life changing experience for our son. After becoming addicted to gaming during covid he was very depressed. At Trails he experienced the wilderness, Science Steve, learning survival skills and top notch therapy and support etc… I highly recommend! This gave our son and our family a renewed family bond full of love and excitement about his bright future.

Winnifred Wilson July 2022


Outstanding clinical work and superb staff! There’s a great culture at this company and it shows with how they engage with families/clients.

Kristin Brace June 2022