Building Leadership Skills in Young Adults Who Have Experienced TraumaMay 21, 2020
After experiencing trauma, many young adults feel chronically unsafe in their bodies and helpless around others. Young adults with trauma become experts at ignoring their gut feelings and pushing other people away to avoid feeling this discomfort. It is difficult for them to imagine regaining control of their life, as they recognize that the traumatic events they’ve experienced were not their fault or their responsibility. Adventure therapy programs focus on teaching young adults leadership skills to help them lead more fulfilling, independent lives.
How Can Young Adults Who Have Experienced Trauma Regain Agency?
The opposite of trauma is choice. Healing from trauma involves feeling in charge of your life, knowing where you stand, knowing that you have a say in what happens to you, and knowing that you have some ability to shape your circumstances.
According to psychiatrist and author, Bessel van der Kolk, “agency starts with what scientists call interoception, our awareness of our subtle sensory, body-based feelings: the greater that awareness, the greater our potential to control our lives.” Adventure activities and mindfulness practices help young adults get back in their bodies and feel more in control of their body-mind connection.
How Are Leadership Skills Developed Through Adventure Therapy?
Adventure therapy shows young adults that they don’t need a guide to be themselves; they are capable of surviving the outdoors and being active members of a community. As students progress throughout the program they begin to realize their natural talents and feel more capable. At Trails Momentum, we believe that focusing on a student’s natural strengths, versus trying to fix their weaknesses, helps put students on a path to success.
Many of the adventure activities that we offer involve awareness of one’s environment, collaborating with others, and being able to communicate one’s needs directly. These are all skills that are difficult for young adults whose fight-or-flight response system is activated regularly. Mentor staff coach students through these difficult moments by offering positive affirmations, self-regulation strategies, and encouraging them to notice what comes up for them when they begin to feel stuck. Adventure activities offer in-the-moment feedback about what is going on in one’s body and in their interactions and a sense of accomplishment when these obstacles are overcome. This helps young adults feel more in control of their actions and future decisions.
Parallel Academic Seminars on Leadership Skills
Our academic programming is designed to mirror the skills that young adults are learning through other elements of our adventure therapy program. While at Trails Momentum, students can earn college credit for our academic seminars,
Introduction to Communication and Leadership and Principles of Outdoor Recreation and Outdoor Adventure.
The ability to earn college credits while in a therapeutic program is another way that Trails Momentum helps young adults take steps towards becoming more independent. These credits can be transferred to any university that students choose to attend after completing the program as elective credits. Many young adults with PTSD experience anxiety around returning to a college environment after taking time off or struggle with taking the initiative to reach their long-term goals. This opportunity for a headstart gives them the motivation to take the next steps towards their academic and career goals.
Our academic seminar, Introduction to Communication and Leadership, invites students to learn and discuss various concepts and skills that are prevalent themes in individual therapy and adventure activities, including the following:
- Emotional Intelligence and Communicating Emotions
- Conflict Management
- Improving Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication
- Enhancing Leadership Presence
- Empowering Others
- Coaching and Giving Feedback
Trails Momentum Can Help
Trails Momentum is a wilderness therapy program for young adults ages 18-25 to transition to independence and improved self-awareness. The program uses adventure therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and a strength-based approach. It is a small and nurturing community that focuses on goals of improved self-regulation and overall functioning for the young adults. Trails Momentum gives students the skills they need to lead healthier, happier lives. We can help your family today!
Contact us at 877-296-8711 for more information about the ways in which adventure therapy helps young adults with trauma.