How to Achieve Life-Long Change

The High Uintas, one of the fields used by Aspiro Wilderness Adventure Therapy program

Last week, we discussed how the combination of Aspiro Adventure’s research-based model, building meaningful relationships with staff and therapists, and wilderness adventure therapy makes our program especially unique and effective. These aspects of our wilderness adventure therapy program result in outcomes of increased competency, self-confidence, development of healthy relationships, and increased healthy coping skills, among other results.

How do we know that the results will last? How does Aspiro Adventure help adolescents and young adults achieve life-long change? It is through fostering and supporting autonomy, responsibility, and greater well-being that we help our students achieve lasting results.

We Focus on Skill and Strength Building

As we discussed in our post last week, Aspiro Adventure’s model of change is based on Martin Seligman’s work in the field of positive psychology– the field that studies what makes people happy and healthy, as opposed to what makes them anxious or depressed.

At Aspiro Adventure, we emphasize skill building, developing personal strengths, and the promotion of self-efficacy, the belief that one can do hard things, which results in meaningful achievement. By using wilderness adventure therapy to build strengths, rather than just treating symptoms, we promote long-term outcomes rather than short-term “fixes”.

Our Staff and Therapists are Key

In an effort to facilitate long-term change, our clinical team and field staff engage with our students to encourage autonomy, responsibility, and greater well-being by focusing on helping students in five key areas:

1. Building character strengths to promote positive emotion
2. Learning how to be fully, intrinsically engaged in life
3. Learning to build and maintain healthy relationships
4. Finding meaning and promoting identity development through involvement in larger causes, relationships, and meaningful achievement
5. Promoting competence or personal efficacy to overcome obstacles through direct skill enhancement, resulting in a strong sense of achievement

By building skills and confidence, rather than delivering a short-term solution to a symptom of a problem, the staff at Aspiro Adventure provides students the power to control their own actions and make better decisions long-term.

We Help Students Want To Change by Encouraging Autonomy

The foundation of our program is autonomy-support. According to an article published by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, true autonomy is comprised of self-governance, responsibility, independence and decision making in the areas of behaviors, emotions and values. As healthy autonomy grows, adolescents and young adults develop the skills to manage their own lives and make positive, healthy choices.

Behavioral autonomy is the ability to independently make and follow through with decisions. This requires viewing situations from many perspectives and considering the end result or natural consequences prior to acting.

Emotional autonomy refers to developing emotional independence from others, including our parents. This allows your child to begin looking for his or her own solutions to problems and seeking help from others.

Value autonomy is identifying and developing one’s personal values rather than simply accepting the values of others. As your child increases his or her autonomy, their intrinsic motivation and confidence in their ability to make good decisions will grow.

Read more about the development of autonomy in adolescents here.

Encouraging Autonomy in Students Leads to Lasting Results

At Aspiro Adventure, we help our students achieve autonomy by providing them with high levels of choice, while still holding them accountable for their actions. We help your son or daughter develop autonomy, beginning at whatever level he or she is at, by:

1. Involving him or her in making many decisions, such as: planning and leading hikes, selecting the food they would like to cook that week, and setting and reaching individual and group goals.
2. Developing the ability to see multiple ways of accomplishing a task. This is accomplished through therapy, experiential learning in the wilderness, and adventure activities.
3. Teaching coping skills to develop the resiliency to experience the positive and negative outcomes/consequences of their choices.

By giving our students many choices, we allow them to experience the natural consequences of their choices. Recognizing and experiencing the natural consequences and logical imposed consequences has a great impact on developing intrinsic motivation.

Fostering an environment of autonomy leads to higher levels of intrinsic motivation, engagement, and well-being. As we foster a sense of autonomy and responsibility in your child, we minimize apathy and defiance, while engaging and encouraging him or her to become an active participant in their own life and healing; these are keys to long-lasting improvement and well-being.

Download our Aspiro Model of Change whitepaper to learn more about our research-based wilderness adventure therapy program.

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COVID-19 Update

Aspiro Adventure Therapy is continuing to support families through this unprecedented time. We are closely monitoring information related to COVID-19 and have implemented additional safety precautions to mitigate risks. Our enhanced admissions screening and program guidelines are informed by the CDC and Utah department of health. To learn more, contact us at (801) 349-2740.