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A leader in addiction recovery and mental health treatment, Merito is one of Southern California’s leading dual diagnosis and addiction treatment centers. We treat the mind, body and spirit via personalized, attentive care.

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Outdoor Therapy

Outdoor therapy is a subgroup of experiential-based therapy that involves nature as a component.  It is a proven effective therapeutic intervention that changes a person’s perspective and can be a strategic way of altering a person’s behavior, especially in young adults who live in an urban setting.  Outdoor therapy boosts a participant’s spirits and gives them a new attitude towards maintaining sobriety.

“There is something powerful simply being in nature. Time slows… one’s heart rate slows… and the stressors of life often dissolve.”
-Kirsten Bolt

Outdoor or wilderness therapy is also a form of psychotherapy that has a progressive and experiential approach to counseling. It is solution-focused and humanistic in their bearings. Aside from that, it also has significant behavioral principles associated with a particular program and efficiently remedies delinquency, as well as alcohol and substance abuse.

Types of Outdoor Therapy

This form of psychotherapy encompasses many different activities done outside the customary rehabilitation facility. Activities often involve strenuous ones that allow a participant to commune with his surroundings and nature. Such activities can include:

  • Hiking
  • Camping
  • Backpacking
  • Gardening
  • Beach activities
  • Swimming
  • Cooperative games
Outdoor Therapy

Like any other experiential therapy, outdoor therapy uses the personal experience to aid participants in defeating emotional problems, addiction, behavioral issues, and any other provocations they might be experiencing. It also aids participants in developing significant life skills that can be beneficial not just in the therapy itself but throughout their lives.

How it Works

Outdoor therapy mostly involves allocating much of the time with nature. This can be very therapeutic in itself as one becomes aware of his harmony with nature. The therapy is often very beneficial for teens and young adults who spend much of their time in urban areas.

“Unity is strength…. when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.”
-Mattie Stepanek

Escaping the pressures of day to day existence, as well as being close to the breathtaking beauty of nature, taking in fresh air, and hearing the serene sounds of nature can improve one’s mood and assist in gaining a new gratitude for life. Our faith-based programs stress the need to connect with nature in Christian addiction treatment as well. This is particularly helpful for those who are recovering from problems such as:

  • Deep emotional wounds
  • Unresolved traumas
  • Constraints with detrimental addiction

Outdoor therapy can generously become a means of recovery that conventional forms of psychotherapy often can’t. This is the reason why outdoor therapy is often included as part of many treatment programs.

Distinct from other forms of therapy where you sit and talk to a therapist, outdoor therapy involves your physical capacity to do and accomplish a task. Programs that last for more than a day generally give you enough opportunity to listen and meditate on your inner voice. This becomes an essential aspect of an effective therapy as you are able to reflect on your thoughts during moments of silence.

Being able to spend some time with yourself and gain a connection with nature gives you a bigger sense of self-awareness that can be valuable when you are recovering from your current issue.

Benefits of Outdoor Therapy

These activities help promote personal growth that can be effective in making fundamental changes in a participant’s behavior. This type of program has been used primarily to supplement the treatment of addiction and includes a profound connection with the natural world. It also nurtures a participant’s ability to gain confidence in his community offered by the involvement of teamwork. Outdoor therapy also has additional benefits including:

  • Develops a healthier approach towards self-control
  • Taking full responsibility for own actions
  • Understanding the impact of one’s actions to others
  • Provides skills in dealing with difficult situations
  • Develops self-esteem, especially in young adults
  • Enhances interpersonal relations

Outdoor therapy can be fun, challenging and appealing. It offers a way for most participants to focus on their tasks rather than the therapy itself.


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