The proximate cause of change within an Adventure Therapy program?

Adventure Therapy academics are obsessed with the “cause of change” question. Having diluted everything possible into different conceptual bottles and denounced every charlatan, healer and mystic from here to Timbucktoo, they go off to their yoga class to relax.

It reminds me of an old joke…a scientist was trying to prove a fly hears with it’s legs. In the first experiment he took off the front two and shouted at the fly; fly! The fly did. Next he removed the next two and performed the same experiment. On the third attempt, he again took off two legs, shouted and…nothing.  Ahh, he nodded – solid proof. “Without legs a fly cannot hear.” This is a joke about “outcomes,”experiment design and theoretical rigidity.

This is precisely the issue with their materialist conceptions and shriving to… fumble in a greasy till. And add the halfpence to the pence. And prayer to shivering prayer, until. You have dried the marrow from the bone… The key requirement is finding how to make money out of the process of change, to monopolize and sequester that resource as a consequence. But it is in it’s bounty and interconnectedness that nature reveals hidden truths.

Nature is not to be owned, marketed or sold. It is an all inclusive system, of which, we are a tiny (but destructive) part. The principal issue is one of deductive and reductive materialist thinking. There are many reasons why communication with nature is effective for physical and mental health. Some of those fall outside the purview of science and some within it, many of those reasons do not come with a price tag.

It could be argued that experience in nature is change. To imply that education in
the form of sequencing experience is a key element remains a strong basis for the
power of experiential change, Bolsover (2008) trying to resolve the dodo verdict, [that
all talking therapies have similar levels of effectiveness] uses Bowlby‘s attachment
theory (1988).

He proposes that talking provides a temporary secure base and this
form of attachment to the therapist allows a sense of security to explore issues
relevant to that person. The therapeutic alliance and the talking… functioning as a
secure base. Bolsover (2008)

He offers that the relationship of client and counselor is
one that is inherently unidirectional, in that one is the care giver and the other the
care seeker and while not overtly stating that any form of therapy model must contain
these elements, allows that a secure base may be the single most important factor in
the relationship (the therapeutic relationship).

What is obliquely argued is that continued exposure to this secure
base should influence positive growth but behavioural change may be conditional on
the availability of this attachment figure. For those people who are more troubled the
temporary secure base of talking may only produce lasting improvement when
experienced repeatedly, Bolsover (2008)

Evolutionary psychology proposes than man has evolved from primate ancestors and
our origins are to be found somewhere on the African savannah Dawkins (2006) De
Waal (2005) Wright (1994) Dennett (1996). This form of life existed for a long period of
human history and the politics on modern human society are grounded in the same
small group primate behavior today. In group – out group, status, mate choice and
dominance are objectively verifiable human traits.

Because phylogenetic evolution is quite slow it is reasonable to assume that the genetic makeup of contemporary
humans remains adapted to gathering and hunting Powles (1992). In essence we are
urbanized hunter gatherers and our diseases reflect that, Marks et al (p116 2006).

Dennett‘s compatibilist position argues that humans have evolved the capacity to
change their natures in response to interactions with the world, Dennett (2004) quoted
by Taylor (2004), a basis for belief in emergent properties based on new supervening
powers such as movement, thinking, tool use and even individual death, namely

Taylor quotes George Ainslie‘s idea of an internal marketplace where
present and future conduct intertemporal bargaining, (2004 p193) the point that this
sense of freedom, [possibly an illusion] is emotional, our sense of freedom is an
emotional signal which gives us the wisdom to know what things we can and cannot
change, Taylor (2004 p 204) and that it is our reactance that can be manipulated for
good or ill.

Other authors have advanced different views but a view of man as mutable
may lend credence to psychological approaches having effect. It‘s precisely because
the world is determined that choice is useful.

Meadows (2006)…Cause itself is an elusive and difficult concept: we are going to need to consider such
things as what are the events or processes on which cognitive development is
conditional, which are the sufficient causes (all that is required for it to proceed), or
necessary causes (essential but perhaps not the only thing required) or contributory
causes (essential but neither necessary nor sufficient).

While we could go on to debate forever, but wait …

Thinking (or academic review) is not movement or doing – it is reactive, rather than pro-active.

Adventure therapy is a movement towards change.




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