Adventure Therapy and Positive Psychology: A Match Made in … Nature

  • Johan PotgieterEmail author


In the challenging and resource scarce South African context, characterized by its cultural diversity, the deliberate combination of adventure therapy and positive psychology holds significant promise to address a number of the criticisms levelled against so-called ‘traditional’ modes of therapy. This chapter introduces the deliberate and strategic combination of adventure therapy and positive psychology as one possible answer to the World Health Organization’s call for the development of novel, integrated interventions that develop with populations, strive to both prevent disease and facilitate mental health, and make optimal use of resources within the person and his/her environment. As a new branch of psychology, it is important that positive psychology continues designing innovative interventions and incorporating interventions from other therapeutic fields that support the psychological well-being of individuals. Since the majority of positive psychology interventions are written- and verbal-based, this chapter invites clinicians and researchers from the field of positive psychology to expand their toolbox by incorporating nature-based adventure therapy intervention. Results from a number of recent South African studies, using both quantitative and qualitative methodologies, show significant increases in self-reported levels of a number of well-being indicators after conducting interventions in an adventure and nature-based context. These constructs include character strengths, resilience, self-regulation and grit. When integrated into the therapeutic space by positive psychologists and psychotherapists, adventure therapy can help build resilience in individuals and groups within non-clinical settings. This will represent an additional tool to prevent stress-related pathology in relatively healthy populations, and will positively impact the reach, scalability and affordability of health-promotion interventions delivered in resource-scarce contexts like South Africa.


Positive psychology Strengths perspective Intervention Adventure therapy Resilience Mental health 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.North-West UniversityPotchefstroomSouth Africa

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