Young adults who struggle with depression often have a hard time identifying things that they like to do and things that make them happy. One of the defining features of Major Depressive Disorder is not releasing enough “feel good” neurotransmitters throughout the day that they often don’t have the same level of satisfaction doing activities they used to enjoy. Because of this, they are more likely to take risks in order to experience the same level of endorphins or adrenaline that other people may feel doing lower-risk activities. Adventure therapy encourages these peak experiences by introducing young adults to healthier forms of risk-taking that improve their mood and build confidence.
What are Peak Experiences?
The concept was originally developed by Abraham Maslow, who is known for establishing a “hierarchy of needs,” with self-actualization located at the top. Maslow argued that peak experiences play an important role in self-actualization.
According to Maslow, peak experiences are highly stimulating moments of complete and utter happiness that generate an advanced form of perceiving reality. During a peak experience the individual experiences an expansion of self, a sense of unity, and meaningfulness in life. The experience lingers in one’s consciousness and gives a sense of purpose, integration, self-determination, and empathy.”
What are the Benefits of Peak Experiences?
There are three key benefits of peak experiences:
- Meaning. Peak experiences lead to an increase in personal awareness and understanding and can serve as a turning point in a person’s life. These experiences spark young adult’s deepest passions.
- Fulfillment. Peak experiences generate positive emotions and are intrinsically rewarding. Young adults who struggle with low self-esteem are able to recognize their achievements and feel proud of themselves.
- Spiritual. During a peak experience, people feel at one with the world and often experience a sense of losing track of time. They may also feel a greater sense of purpose.
How Does This Idea Relate to Adventure Therapy?
In a study that tried to define what is considered a peak experience, the results revealed many participants’ peak experiences include some form of discomfort, challenge, risk, physical exertion, flow, and natural beauty in a social group.
Common examples of peak experiences include moments in nature, vulnerable moments with friends, achieving an important goal, and offering support to others.
Based on this definition, every day in a wilderness therapy program is full of peak experiences.
The study also found that peak experiences in outdoor recreation influence individual’s perception of self-actualization by encouraging a shift in perceived needs, and through the building of confidence and composure.
By introducing young adults to a variety of adventure activities that may serve as peak experiences, wilderness therapy programs help students address the underlying reasons that they have struggled with depression: lack of energy, low self-esteem, lack of sense of accomplishment, and disconnection from others.
blueFire PulsaR Can Help
blueFire PulsaR is a coed wilderness therapy program for young adults ages 18-28. This program addresses emotional, social, and behavior problems. At PulsaR, adventure therapy and family therapy help promote personal growth. From there they are able to experience growth and adopt healthy life skills. Pulsar is dedicated to helping students regain a better sense of the world. Additionally, it addresses their emotions and needs head-on. We can help your family today.
Contact us at 1 (844) 413-1999 for more information about adventure therapy for depressed young adults.