the Clinical Lens
The outdoor experiential learning platform of Embark at The Forge is a program uniquely created for our students to assist their development in three main areas: creating a positive shared experience to create joy, building self-efficacy, and encouraging students to and through their growth zone. Adventure Therapy does this through CASA and many activities within these therapeutic sequences.
At Embark at The Forge, 1/3 of your son’s awake time will be spent experiencing fitness, adventure, and experiential events. Boys respond to kinesthetic and tactile influences and they need adventure and mission to progress into manhood. These rights of passages happen as they find a proper tribe and hold each other accountable and as they progress, they develop and achieve higher cognition and health through performance and repetition which allows for setbacks and wins. Repetition creates growth, while acts of physical courage progress into moral courage. These events feed into and off the therapy and academics the boys will do during their time here and It’s a snowball down the right hill as we maintain a consistent schedule.
Setting and Achieving Goals
Setting and Achieving Goals is designed to provide students the opportunity to challenge negative core beliefs as well as gain mastery and self-confidence. Students are trained through weekly functional fitness and excursions in and around the campus, allowing for an ever-changing lens of learning. Ropes course activities, mountain biking, and white-water rafting teach our students the importance of setting a goal that pushes them beyond their comfort zone into their growth zone. In doing so, our students gain experiential knowledge of their limits and are safely guided to push beyond them.
When this happens, they develop a stronger sense of self-worth and agency in their world which has proven to lead to more resilience and the ability to persevere when met with challenges in daily life and in the therapeutic journey.
Trust is one of the more complicated concepts for our students as they struggle greatly with recognizing the value of this in relationships. Therapeutic metaphor is used throughout to tie individual actions and experiences as building trust or losing trust in relationships. Students are asked to engage in contemplation and introspection with how they experience building and losing trust within relationships in their lives through journaling and therapeutic groups as well as in adventure activities.
Safe communication is the foundation of any trusting relationship. In the communication sequence, students gain experiential mastery of communication skills in interpersonal relationships. Healthy communication poses great difficulty to our students and can require hard work to do well. As such, students learn that communication can become a vehicle that allows opportunities to reap the benefits of hard work through deepened relationships and play. Vulnerability, honesty, and an awareness of our own fears are essential for us to communicate well with others.
Teamwork creates experiential opportunities for students to explore how it affects relationships. Students gain practical knowledge of the importance of working together as a team to effect mutual change. One of the major focuses in the concept of living outside their comfort zone is courage over comfort. Through time and technique, and as learned skills and teamwork begin to compound, we celebrate their hard work and acquired skills by providing opportunities to show mastery, leadership, and to follow the leadership of others.
Empathy & Service
Empathy for our students is often a difficult concept and skill to understand and master. We believe that empathy is an essential component of healthy, healing relationships and as such seek to foster this ability or emotional skill in our students. Many of our students resist empathizing with others, particularly those they’ve hurt for fear of the shame that may arise within. It is our goal to experientially teach Forge students that not only is empathy essential in healing broken relationships, but it is also an emotional skill that will serve them the rest of their lives.