Adventure Therapy: a new way of dealing with mental health | All over Indiana

There are many different types of treatment.

Some benefit from outpatient counseling, usually sitting across from a therapist in an office setting or in a group therapy session, on a weekly or monthly basis.

A higher-level treatment may be more intensive, meeting three to five times a week. Even more intensive would mean hospitalization or pet care, and that, according to Rob Kern, licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) with The Cabin Counseling and Resource Center Inc. in Boone County, is where adventure therapy was born.

“Oftentimes, teenagers or young adults come into this round-the-clock comprehensive therapy and do things like horseback riding, kayaking and rock climbing, and it serves as the hook for teens to break the ice and settle into therapy,” Kern said.

As Kern earned his degree and was exposed to the various fields of therapy, his dream and vision began to take shape.

Why not offer adventure healing at the first level of healing? Everyday life;

In what is still considered a growing area in the industry, Kern worked with The Cabin staff, their legal team and others to create a new kind of treatment, drafting documents and implementing best practices.

Leaving the office equals additional risk. General security risk, but also confidentiality. There is a chance that the client and the therapist will meet someone they know. The decision to try adventure therapy is entirely in the hands of the patient, however, the rewards can far outweigh the risks.

“There’s a growing body of research that says interacting with nature is fundamentally beneficial,” Kern said. “My suspicion would be that if you asked councilors across the country, you would find a large number of people doing something that I would believe. adventure therapy – they just don’t call it that.’

Adventure therapy can include something as simple as a walk in the park, but it can also include fly fishing or mountain biking.

“There’s a different restoration when dealing with nature,” Kern said. “We don’t always have to deal with speech therapy. If you want to talk, fine, but if you don’t, that’s fine too. It’s not for everyone, but many find it empowering.”

At The Cabin, Kern and other staff members currently offer park walking, hiking, kayaking, fly fishing, mountain biking and virtual reality gaming.

The customer can decide if they want to try one of these options.

Moving Water Outfitters and Kern Bros. Shoes have donated equipment, making it easy for the consultant and client to grab their fishing gear or kayak and go.

Kern expects to expand options and wants to stay on the cutting edge of outpatient services. He’s even starting a monthly program for men who have survived or been diagnosed with cancer.

“There are a couple of programs … Reel Recovery works with men with cancer and Casting for Recovery works with women with cancer,” she said. “Since 2021, I have been involved in their organization and now I am a coordinator for them. I am using my experience and will be starting an ongoing support group for men with cancer in October. It will be an open group and men are welcome at any stage of cancer, even if they have been in remission for 20 years.”

On the second Friday of every month, Kern will schedule a three-hour meeting – one hour for conversation and two hours for fly fishing. The location will likely alternate between Lebanon and Zionsville. More information will be posted on The Cabin’s Facebook page and website as the program begins.

For more information about The Cabin Counseling and Resource Center Inc. or Rob Kern and Adventure Therapy, visit the website at

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