Mastering a new skill in the company of others who are just as nervous and unsure is a powerful experience – as many young people on the Gold Coast are discovering when they participate in headspace Southport’s Adventure Therapy program.
The Southport service is one of the few headspace services in Australia offering Adventure Therapy as part of its treatment program.
Young people on the Gold Coast who are seeking support for mental health concerns have the chance to participate in a range of physical activities, including yoga, skate boarding, surfing and exploration in nature.
Our Functional Recovery Team (FRT) delivers the program. In a win/win for the young people, the FRT team members have a wide range of skills they can offer, along with their clinical expertise. Our FRT clinicians are also qualified surf instructors, yoga instructors and personal trainers.
Each Adventure Therapy session combines a physical activity with psychoeducation. Mindfulness is a major focus of all sessions.
Our Manager (Clinical Services Youth Mental Health), Marijka Brennan, said Adventure Therapy gives young people the opportunity for safe risk taking.
“It also helps participants develop skills related to time management and socialising and boosts self-esteem,” she said.
“We had a young man coming to our Adventure Program who found it very difficult to socialise. Just leaving his home, where he lived alone, was a major challenge. After attending headspace Southport as a client, he joined the kayaking and fishing group and loved it so much that he has now bought his own fishing rod. We can see how much confidence he has built.”
Returning to work or study
The underlying purpose of the program is to prepare young people to return to work or study.
“After completing an eight-week program, we see around half of each group go on to return to study or work. Other young people move into different Adventure Therapy programs or take up volunteer roles with headspace, such as with Peer Support and the Youth Advisory Council.
“It’s wonderful to see the young people flourish and to be part of such an innovative treatment program,” Marijka said.