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Basic therapeutic communication: Theoretical and practical information for outdoor adventure professionals

By Lisa West-smith


magine yourself as the leader of an all-women's backpacking trip in the Allegheny Mountains dur ing the late spring. There are six trip participants. Three of the women have done some hiking, two are experienced wilderness guides, and one is a novice participant, whom I will call "fan. " Each participant is recovering from depression. This trip has been arranged as an adjunct to their outpatient counseling program at the local women's therapy center. The goal of this trip is therapeutic: to provide the participants an opportunity to experience self-efficacy and develop self-esteem in a physically and emotionally safe and supportive outdoor adven ture environment. Although things have gone very well from pre-trip planning to early group formation stages, the tempera ture has steadily dropped from 50 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday evening to 12 degrees overnight. The after noon is cloudy and has not warmed noticeably. Jan seems to be having some difficulty. Her face is pale, she has slowed her pace considerably, and she almost looks as if she is limping. But Jan is no complainer. She has quickly learned new outdoor skills and has made a significant contribution to the spirit of cooper-ativeness and to the group norm of keeping a positive attitude. As the trip leader, you have been diligent on today's six-mile hike in suggesting stops for snacks, foot inspections, and clothing changes. The last stop was thirty minutes ago. Just as you begin to walk toward Jan, she says to you, "It's a little cold, isn't it?" Lisa West-Smith, Ph.D., LCSW is a psychotherapist and group facilitator in private practice at Adventurehaven, 3037 Dixi

Year: 1997
DOI identifier: 10.1177/105382599702000203
OAI identifier: oai:CiteSeerX.psu:
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