Parent seminars are an opportunity for our students, their parents and siblings to work on family centered issues in-person, through both traditional group and experiential family therapy activities. Erik Yost, our Adventure Therapy specialist, shares a little about the experiential family therapy that went on at the ropes course during our most recent parent seminar.
This past week Solstice held our quarterly parent seminar. This quarter we visited Clas Ropes Course in Provo, Utah. All students and their families were given the opportunity to participate in both low and high elements on the course. Families and students were grouped together into smaller groups for their individualized experiences. Each group began with an “ice breaker” game to get familiar with each other. From there each group worked as a team to solve a low element challenge. In the photos below you can see a group working together to get everyone across an imaginary “peanut butter river”. Although highly contrived, the low element challenges provide scenarios where individual and family patterns may surface as well as an opportunity to gain awareness about behavioral patterns and a chance to do something different.
Once the groups completed their objective on the low element they advanced to the high elements. These are challenges that require individuals and groups to work together, high above the ground. In some cases as much as 40 feet! As always, these activities are challenge by choice and almost everyone gave it a go. The high elements are where individuals and groups move from a contrived challenge to a very real challenge. The idea is for participants to take what they learned on the low element and to apply it way up high. As you can see in the photos below this is a very challenging task where the participant has to face fears, use skills to work through their fear and to trust themselves and their group members for support.
After the high challenges were over we sat and talked about our experience as a group and shared what each individual may have learned about themselves. One of our participants shared this:
“My whole life, fear has controlled me. I still felt fear up on the pole but in the moment that I took the leap, I was free of my fear and I didn’t let it control me. I feel very empowered after the experience and I feel like I can depend on myself without having to have someone save me.”
After our time at the ropes course, families and students returned to campus to further discuss this experiential family therapy and how it relates to them and their family dynamic. Families also learned about new concepts and skills to help them work together through future challenges.