Getting a Grip: Utilizing Climbing to Address Generalized Anxiety Disorder

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Johnston, Sarah
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In 2015, the first quantitative research study was conducted on psychotherapeutic indoor rock climbing as an intervention for people with depression. Research has since continued, yet anxiety and specifically generalized anxiety disorder as well as outdoor rock climbing, have been remained unstudied within the field of therapeutic climbing. This in-depth literature review investigates the use of indoor and outdoor therapeutic rock climbing to address generalized anxiety disorder. A collection of qualitative, quantitative, theoretical, and historical resources and academic studies are reviewed to bring together elements of nature-based therapy, adventure therapy, mind-body therapy, and polyvagal theory as the theoretical backing to a therapeutic climbing program proposal to address generalized anxiety disorder. The major findings amongst the various theoretical approaches reviewed and combined are several common therapeutic factors: relationship and trust, play, presence and mindfulness, safety and risk, and scalability. Also discovered are the many implications for practitioners to move forward in the field of outdoor therapeutic climbing in an ethical way. Unsettling and decolonizing the field of adventure and nature-based therapy, making outdoor programs and communities more accessible to marginalized populations, and working within the present environmental crisis, addressing ecoanxiety are all necessary directives.
anxiety , climbing , therapeutic climbing , nature-based therapy , mind-body therapy , outdoor programs , generalized anxiety disorder
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States , openAccess