Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Climbing Out - A Film about the Power of the Mountains in Recovery

Wikipedia defines wilderness therapy as, "an adventure-based therapy treatment modality for behavior modification and interpersonal self-improvement, combining experiential education, individual and group therapy in a wilderness setting." What they're referring to is a style of therapy that is supported by individuals trained to help a person overcome personal demons by using the wilderness or wilderness adventure as a backdrop.

But there's another model of wilderness therapy. It's the self-imposed model. It's a model that many people use to, "get away from the world." Or to "discover yourself." Or to "deal with something."

There is a long history of climbers and skiers, backpackers and explorers, sailors and adventurers, using the wilderness as a self-imposed form of wilderness therapy. There is also a long history of those who have had difficulties in their lives using wilderness adventure or a goal in the wilderness to show themselves, and the world, that they have overcome the thing that held them back.

This last thought brings us to the mountain as a metaphor. I have a personal history with cancer. As a teenager, I overcame brain cancer. Climbing mountains was a way to show myself that I was back, that I had beat my disease. I've met literally hundreds of people over the years that have used mountain climbing or the ascent of a single mountain as a goal to show that they've overcome a disease.

There's another disease that -- when overcome, or when in recovery -- is often a reason that people give to climb a hard mountain.  And that disease is addiction...

The mountain climb is a ubiquitous metaphor. It is commonly stated that one climbs a mountain to overcome a disease. Therefore it shouldn't be a surprise that so many people want to climb a mountain when they feel that they are close to defeating a disease, or at least are successful in resisting it...

REI has put together a very nice short film about a woman who is literally climbing out of addiction on Mt. Rainier. You can view this excellent film below...

--Jason D. Martin

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