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Keywords:

  • adventure therapy;
  • early intervention;
  • group therapy;
  • psychiatry

Abstract

Aim: The study aims to evaluate the efficacy of an Outdoor Adventure Group (OAG) for young people with a mental illness. It was hypothesized that participating in OAG would result in an increase in self-esteem, sense of mastery and social connectedness, compared with those who attended other Psychosocial Recovery Group Program groups based at Orygen Youth Health. In addition, those in the OAG would show an improved performance of personal goals.

Methods: Twenty-one youths (aged 15 to 25) participated in the OAG and 12 participated in other Psychosocial Recovery Group Program groups and served as the comparison group. Pre- and post-evaluation measures included (i) Rosenberg Self Esteem Scale; (ii) Mastery Scale; (iii) Social Connectedness Scale; and (iv) personal goals for attending the OAG, rated 1–10 on current performance. The groups were based at Orygen Youth Health, Melbourne, Australia and run over an 8 to 10-week period.

Results: Participants of the OAG experienced an improvement in self-esteem (P = 0.001) and mastery (P = 0.001); these changes were not observed in the controls. There were a total of 80 personal goals for the OAG, with an average of 3.81 per person, and performance significantly improved in 66 (82.5%) goals. There were 10 categories of goals; the most common goals were related to self-improvement and social skills development.

Conclusions: Increased self-esteem and mastery, and achievement of personal goals gained through the OAG, may facilitate, or be a precursor to, a young person's psychosocial recovery.