Family Roots Adventure Therapy Group
The Family Roots Adventure Therapy Group is based on the professionally well evaluated program of the same name implemented at the Sooke Family Resource Society in Sooke, BC from 2009-2011. The program intends to fulfill a high and growing need in Whitehorse for accessible and engaging family support services that address parent-child conflict and build resources for the family to cope with stressors. This program would be targeted towards low income Yukon families with at-risk teens and preteen children. The primary purpose of the program is to deliver a family program that focuses on the early intervention of family conflict for youth ages 10-16 and their families. Issues that families may be experiencing include behavioral challenges, low self-esteem, anxiety, changes in family structure, financial stress, social difficulties, generational trauma, social difficulties, parent-child conflict and sibling conflict.
The Family Roots Adventure Therapy Group is a multi-family adventure therapy group that will meet at various outdoor locations one weekend per month over the course of 6 months, with 3 single day and 3 two day (overnight) programs. Games, initiatives, outdoor nature experiences and psycho education will serve to increase the resiliency of the family system by: strengthening family bonds, expanding support networks, promoting family-centered recreation, and building resources for navigating stress and conflict within the family. Additionally, a clinical counsellor will meet weekly with each family to address the family's unique needs and concerns, and help integrate their learning into daily life.
Note: Adventure therapy can be defined as the intentional facilitation of a wide range of adventure activities (e.g. team building initiatives, ropes courses, wilderness hiking or canoeing) aimed at creating opportunities for personal and interpersonal change towards therapeutic goals.
Through their involvement in the program, families will learn to successfully navigate family conflict, and find ways to enhance their overall functioning as a family. Through the various outdoor activities and community contacts, families will gain ability to access internal and external resources that will assist their stress coping approaches in the long term.
The suggested program is an innovative approach to strengthening resiliency and capacity of vulnerable families. It combines strength-based family counselling with outdoor recreation and peer support in a model that would be unique in Whitehorse. While adventure therapy has been commonly applied as an intervention for struggling youth, often in isolated residential settings, service providers have begun to recognize the benefits and necessity of considering the health of the entire family system for producing long-term change. Family systems therapy and adventure therapy are a natural blending of modalities for they both address such issues as trust , self-esteem, problem solving, communication, emotional competence, boundaries, and balancing individual with group needs. Authors such as Richard Louv are spearheading a national movement based around getting children, and their parents outside and engaged in a shared exploration of the natural world (see www.childandnature.org). As stated by Miller et al. (2005), "significant evidence exists for contact with nature to be considered in the promotion of health and well-being for individuals and communities, and potentially be incorporated within the public health strategies for whole populations" (p.51). Whitehorse families of youth at risk would be well served to increase their access of nature activities in a way that increases the bonds and supports stress coping skills amoung family members. This program offers a supportive environment that will facilitate corrective experiences in family relationships, within and between the family, the larger community and the natural world.
Maller, C., Townsend, M. Pryor, A. Brown, P. & Leger, L. (2005). Healthy nature healthy people: 'contact with nature' as an upstream health promotion intervention for populations. Health Promotion International, 21 (1), 45-54.