Adventure Therapy Program at Muir Wood

The Adventure Therapy Program at Muir Wood occurs every Sunday and is led by Jonathan Kabat, MFTI. Jonathan is a Masters level therapist who was trained in Applied Ecopsychology (a discipline which studies the relationship between human beings and the natural world through ecological and psychological principles). Jonathan was honored as an Academic Scholar for his research and undergraduate thesis on Applied Ecopsychology. The Adventure Therapy outings are co-facilitated by AJ Ferreira, a Muir Wood Recovery Counselor who has been certified in wilderness first aid and has also worked as a personal trainer in the Bay Area for many years.

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The all day Sunday outings of the Adventure Therapy Program integrates the best practices of psychotherapeutic treatment for addiction and the time tested processes of initiation. This dynamic combination fosters the growth of young people into the role of being purposeful adults in an experiential weekly process of self-discovery. Each weekly outing provides teens the opportunities to set personal goals, to support others in achieving their goals, to contribute to the achievement of goals defined by the group, to deepen one’s practice of inquiry and reflection, to experiment with new skills, and to monitor progress towards accomplishing personal goals’ while having lots of exciting outdoor fun.

”Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” – John Muir

With the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Point Reyes National Seashore, and numerous state parks and county open space districts surrounding Muir Wood Adolescent & Family Services unique location, we avail ourselves of the vast resources of parklands for exciting real life experiences. With activities such as hiking, rock climbing, or kayaking providing the focal point, and the spectacular natural setting providing the context, we embark upon weekly journeys that are facilitated with the stages of change explicitly described prior to the outing and then discuss in a dynamic process where teens can experience these changes firsthand in outdoor an unparalleled outdoor setting. This integrative model accelerates personal growth with a sense of adventure.

“It always seems impossible until it is done.” – Nelson Mandela

Hike Tennesee Valley (2)The weekly journeys of the Adventure Therapy Program bases it adventures on a modern rites of passage model. Each outing delineates the stages of severance, threshold, and incorporation. In every process of change we experience a severance from our past ways doing things – leaving behind the familiar. We then enter into the threshold of a new perspective of ourselves and life – experienced as the unfamiliar. Not knowing what lies ahead of us we have to experiment with new ways of being. Once we have gained clarity of who we wish to be, and started practicing this new sense of self, we must incorporate it into our daily lives – act upon this new sense of ourselves and be seen for the new person we have become. The Adventure Therapy Program outings facilitate this transformational process through lecture and discussions, experiential exercises, personal reflection, and group process, all in the context of challenge and achievement.

AV Photo3Each participant’s therapeutic goals are incorporated into their immediate direct experience of the present moment on the adventures. The facilitators highlight the process supporting reflection and discussion. This approach offers real-time feedback in a real life experience to allow each participant to try new ways of solving challenges and exploring new approaches to managing the stress of life’s difficulties. All outings provide each individual a safe yet exhilarating process to grow competence and gain confidence.

“We call it “finding your own true north”– like on a compass. In production-driven societies, we’re tricked into believing that true north is outside of us. So we’re constantly looking outside ourselves . . . But our true north is invariably inside us . . . if we do what we love to do, what we’re inspired to do, what we believe in, it creates an entirely different response.” – Julia Butterfly Hill

The weekly adventure therapy outings facilitate growth that has been negatively impacted by substance abuse, process addictions, and mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. This is accomplished through carefully developed and facilitated challenges that young men need in order to develop resilience, self-esteem, and decision-making skills that include care for self and others.

“To be a soulful person means to go against all the pervasive, prove-yourself values of our culture and instead treasure what is unique and internal and valuable in yourself and your own personal evolution.” – Jean Shinoda Bolen

The Muir Wood Adventure Therapy Program process facilitates growth in many areas including:

Bob Granger, WFR, CFR, SWRT — Adventure Therapist

  • Self-regulation
  • Self-care
  • Group responsibility
  • Creative problem solving
  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Awareness
  • Orienting
  • Strategic planning
  • Active contribution/participation
  • Cooperation
  • Empathy
  • Consensus / group decision making
  • Sense of belonging
  • Recognition of interdependence and connection

“The greatest wisdom is in simplicity. Love, respect, tolerance, sharing, gratitude, forgiveness. It’s not complex or elaborate. The real knowledge is free. It’s encoded in your DNA. All you need is within you. Great teachers have said that from the beginning. Find your heart, and you will find your way.” – Carlos Barrios (Mayan elder)