Expressive and Experiential Psychotherapies

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Outdoor Experiences and Challenges

Outdoor exercises such as mountain excursions, hiking, canoeing, challenge courses, and skiing are designed to challenge individual limits and be present in the moment. Such exercises, both formal and informal, confront isolation, avoidance, perfectionism, self-consciousness and unproductive competition. At the same time, these activities enhance self-confidence and worth, positive social interactions, appropriate risk-taking and non-compulsive fitness activity. Outdoor experiences are individualized according to the client’s health status, treatment level and ability.

Non-verbal Expressive Therapies

Individuals with eating disorders often have difficulty, or blocks, with direct verbal self-expression. Sometimes, it is helpful to find a way around that, by using less direct forms of therapy, such as through the use of art and various forms of movement, to encourage the management of emotional distress and the integration of new awareness and insight with new behaviors. Ultimately, these insights are woven into the more traditional individual talk therapies.

Exercise – Finding Balance

With the excessive focus eating disordered individuals place on body, weight, shape, and size, an effort to stay healthy and fit often morphs into compulsive, extreme and rigid exercise routines. In an effort to help clients combat related rigid mind-set and compulsive exercise behaviors, clients participate in non-routinized fitness activities that are both healthy and enjoyable, and which allow for sponteneity. Clients have some choices in determining the kinds of fitness activities in which they engage. Examples include hiking, and group sports such as basketball or wallyball. We also have more structured sports such as yoga, Zumba, aerobics, and strength training.


One aspect of treatment that sets Avalon Hills apart from other programs is the therapeutic programming 7 days per week. Weekends are structured with a balance of outdoor recreation, cultural activities in the community, therapeutic activities such as Eat Out Challenges at local restaurants, and shopping challenges. Each weekend is different, based on the activities available in the local community as well as the client’s needs. Each Sunday, attendance at church services is available. Attendance is optional and the attendees rotate through a list of various denominations.