Our Therapeutic Modalities
Adventure Therapy is the prescriptive use of adventure experiences provided by mental health professionals, conducted in natural settings that kinesthetically engage clients on cognitive, affective, and behavioral levels.”
(Adventure Therapy, Gass, et. al., 2012, p. 1)
Adventure Therapy Is Experiential Therapy… we learn by doing, not by talking about doing...
Further explained in Adventure Therapy, it involves 7 key areas: “(1) action-centered therapy, (2) unfamiliar environment, (3) climate of change, (4) assessment of capabilities (5) small group development and a caring community, (6) focus on successful behaviors (strengths) rather than dysfunctional behaviors (deficits), and (7) altered role of the therapist.” (p.2)
Adventure Therapy utilizes the positive influence of nature in the therapeutic healing process. Instead of practicing mindfulness and grounding in an office or home environment, clients are surrounded by the beauty of sunsets and far vistas, fragrance of pines and open fires, feeling the breeze and sand between their toes, sounds of birds and the wind in the trees, and voices of other people sharing the same experiences. Being in a grounded and present state, the neuroplasticity of the brain (or the natural healing ability of the brain) kicks in, and natural healing can begin, free from the destructive distractions and addictions of modern life.
Challenges, (eustress, or the positive use of stress), allow the client to see what they are capable of. Using positive mental dialogue and the support of their group, they find that they can do hard things in the wilderness, and this translates to doing hard things at home, college, or in a career. Strengthening relationships through giving and receiving support during hard days also translates to improving family and friend relationships and allows for attachment wounds to be identified and addressed in therapy. The campfire community takes us back to a simpler time when cooking and eating together, telling stories, and being heard by others enhances social healing. Adventure Therapy is experiential.. And we learn by doing not by talking about doing!
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a form of therapy that was originally designed and found to be effective for treating borderline personality disorder. Over time, it has additionally been proven to be an effective form of treatment for depression, binge-eating, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, and for mental health problems characterized by overwhelming emotions. DBT specifically focuses on providing people with therapeutic skills in four key areas: mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness. This modality can be used both in individual and group therapy settings. At Legacy, we have regularly scheduled DBT groups where clients are taught and practice a variety of skills from all four key areas that they can then implement in their daily lives.
Substance Abuse Disorder Treatment and Process Addiction
Legacy invites but does not require clients to explore the 12 Step Program that has proven effective for substance abuse recovery. The principles are taught, and clients can participate as much as they want. They may also explore other substance abuse recovery modalities such as Smart Recovery or Dharma Recovery.
Substance use disorder is not the only type of addictive behavior that can deter young people from developing healthy, adult lifestyles. Things such as gambling addiction, compulsive disordered eating, pornography or sexual addiction, or even addictive shopping, gaming or electronics use can be detrimental to the individual and keep them from achieving appropriate milestones in their lives. These process addictions are typically treated in a similar way as substance use, with the common element being the development of healthy, supportive, recovery communities.
Internal Family Systems (IFS)
Internal Family Systems (IFS) is a modality of therapy that identifies and addresses multiple sub-personalities or parts within each person. For some people, their different parts can come in conflict with each other and with one’s core authentic self. This conflict is often the result of trauma. IFS focuses on healing the wounded parts and restoring mental balance and harmony by changing the dynamics that create discord among the sub-personalities and the self. It is an evidence-based practice that has been shown to be effective for treating a variety of conditions and their symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, phobias, panic, and trauma. Therapists at Legacy use IFS to help their clients identify the different parts of themselves, and help quiet those parts that are pulling them towards their addictive and other destructive behaviors.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is used as a time efficient, comprehensive methodology for the treatment trauma. It is an integrated model that incorporates aspects of psychodynamic, experiential, behavioral, cognitive, body-based, and systems therapies. It comprises an eight phase treatment that includes the use of eye movements or other bilateral (left-right) stimulation. EMDR helps trauma survivors reprocess disturbing thoughts and memories, providing profound and stable treatment in a short period of time. It is now one of the most widely used treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder. It Is recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as an effective treatment for ameliorating symptoms of both acute and chronic PTSD.
At Legacy we incorporate EMDR with our clients who have both chronic and acute trauma. We begin the process by developing resources to help the clients with emotional self-regulation. We want to ensure that they have sufficient coping skills in place as we move through the process. It’s extremely important in doing trauma work to not re-traumatize the client and so creating a foundation of resources is essential. The wilderness itself provides a lot of these foundational resources. Wild nature provides mindfulness opportunities as clients experience the sights, sounds, smells, and touch of the outdoors. As we move into deeper trauma work, we see amazing progress in our clients. This often leads to a recommendation that they continue EMDR work in their step-down or aftercare, because trauma often requires long-term individual therapy.
Attachment Therapy/Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)
Attachment-based Therapy, or Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), is a process-oriented form of psychological counseling. The client-therapist relationship is based on developing or rebuilding trust, and centers on expressing emotions. An attachment-based approach to therapy looks at the connection between an infant’s early attachment experiences with primary caregivers, usually with parents, and the infant’s ability to develop healthy emotional and physical relationships as an adult. Attachment-based Therapy aims to build or rebuild trusting, supportive relationships.
Attachment-based Therapy is used in individual, family, couple, and group therapy, with young adults, parents, and significant others, to help clients mend or recover from fractured relationships. Those who may benefit from Attachment-based Therapy include adoptees, children of depressed mothers, victims of trauma: such as children of divorce or children who have been abused or mistreated, particularly at the hands of a caregiver. Additionally, families who are struggling with addiction or other mental health issues often experience stress in their relationships and attachment-wounds are created. This model is effective for these families as well.
We use Attachment Therapy to help families identify negative cycles and to see which family member tends to withdraw and which ones tends to pursue in conflict. Either response tends to cause a rift in relationships. Attachment-based Therapy helps both parents and their adult children to see the emotions elicited in these negative cycles, and to discover the deeper emotions that fracture essential relationships, and to begin to repair them.
Motivational Interviewing (MI)
Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a counseling method that helps people resolve ambivalent feelings and insecurities in order to be able to find the internal motivation to change their behavior. It is a practical, empathetic, and short-term process that takes into consideration how difficult it is to make life changes, and has been found to be effective when working with people struggling with addiction. The approach increases a person’s awareness of the potential problems caused, consequences experienced, and risks faced as a result of their behaviors. The therapist works with the client to help them envision a better future, and become increasingly motivated to achieve it. This is a skill our therapists use in their sessions, and also a skill that we teach our guides to use when they are working with clients.
“Throughout history, horses have helped humans navigate on their external travels… but horses can take us on another, deeper journey, to the realms of healing, awareness and soul growth… We have learned that these amazing animals can serve as teachers and guides, and transport us to a new journey of consciousness.” (Horse Sense and the Human Heart, McCormick, 1997, p, XIII).
At Legacy, because we have a hybrid model, we can have horses on our property and use them as a therapeutic resource. When clients advance to the Summit House phase, they interact with our horses in our weekly Equine Therapy group, but also can use them in individual therapy sessions. The horse pasture is situated on our campus, allowing clients the opportunity to pay the horses a visit to ground themselves and interact with caring and responsive animals. When we develop a relationship with a nonhuman creature, we experience something mysterious, something not easily understood– a human-animal bond. This bond feels rewarding, but is also good for our emotional health. Horses provide us the opportunity to unite unconditionally with another living being. They teach us to love and develop trusting relationships.
At Legacy, we not only interact with horses on the ground, but we also give clients the opportunity to ride our horses after receiving proper instruction. Horses don’t lie, what you see is what they are. In connecting with them we can examine how we connect with other people, and see what may be missing in our human relationships. They teach us that clear boundaries create safety for both the client and the horse, and that this is true of human relationships as well. They teach us that we must take control of our lives or our lives will take control of us. And they provide a unique form of bilateral stimulation, which in itself is healing.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a well-respected modality in psychotherapy and essentially the process of looking at how behaviors, thoughts, and emotions are connected. Therapists at Legacy utilize CBT to help clients identify distorted and rigid thought patterns, understand their resulting emotional and behavioral responses, and create a more flexible and compassionate way of being for themselves. Learning this technique equips clients with a sustained capacity to catch self-destructive thought patterns and improves overall well-being.
Narrative Therapy is a form of counseling that views people as separate from their problems. This allows clients to get some distance from the negative view that they’ve developed about themselves, and see how this perception is interfering with the healing process. With this new perspective, individuals feel more empowered to make changes in their thought patterns, behaviors, and “rewrite” their life story for a future that reflects who they are, what they are capable of, and what their purpose is, separate from their problems. It is used with individuals, couples, and families. Those who define themselves by their problems, whose lives are dominated by such feelings as “I am a depressed person” or “I am an anxious person” can learn to see their problem as something they have but not something that identifies who they are.
Meditation & Mindfulness
Legacy incorporates mindfulness practices such as meditation and breathing exercises throughout the program. Using these tools, we teach clients how to break away from negative thought patterns. These patterns are often what causes a downward spiral into depression, anxiety, or negative trauma-responses. Mindfulness and meditation are resources the clients develop to ease overall emotional discomfort, and to replace substance use and other harmful numbing behaviors. These resources help ground the client to the present, thus accessing the body/brain’s natural ability to heal. Mindfulness practices have been proven to help depression, relapse prevention, and are also helpful for treating generalized anxiety disorder and trauma.