Cumberland Heights Blog: One Step at a Time; Recreation Therapy, Rock Climbing Wall

Cumberland Heights rock climbing wall wall therapy helps patients challenge fears, obstacles, self-imposed limitations, and comfort zones. Their experiences in the activity are then used to metaphorically represent many aspects of treatment and 12 Step Recovery concepts. Concepts of powerlessness, surrender, keeping it simple, honesty, courage, community support, trust, faith, and many others emerge. The participant is able to draw parallels and metaphors from their experience in an activity to the recovery process. This knowledge can be transferred to practical application to their recovery journey. So, a crucial piece of the activity is the processing that occurs afterward.

For a patient working on Step One, we process powerlessness. One thing everyone is powerless over, is gravity. The higher on the rock climbing wall a patient goes, the greater the risk of negative impact.  An individual working on Step Two, learns to overcome powerlessness by using the right tools; a rope, harness, helmet, equipment, and support. An individual working Step Three could process how, when they decide to entrust their safety to a belayer and system, they can overcome gravity and make the climb.

How does an individual climb the wall?    One step at a time

Patient Experience:

What did you find out about yourself today?

I found out that I can embrace “progress over perfection”. Perfection and control issues are big obstacles in my recovery. Today I realized that I don’t have to be perfect to feel a sense of accomplishment. With regard to my community, I experienced a feeling of trust and sisterhood. We share a unique experience that bonds us together

What feelings did you experience today?

I experienced sober fun today! Sometimes I forget that I can still have a great time with friends, and have true belly laughs, without drinking. I experienced a feeling of motivation, encouragement and strength that carried over into the rest of my day, and so far, through the rest of my week. I experienced joy while encouraging the other women I’ve grown close to in achieving their goals and conquer fears

How can you relate this experience to your recovery? What step(s) did you think about, metaphors or parallels?

I embraced “progress over perfection” during the rock wall challenge, because although I did not make it to the top, I felt great achievement and motivation by just getting up there and trying it. I’ve been to embarrassed to fail in front of others to try rock wall climbing in the past. I also experienced the trust in fellowship that is such a big part of recovery through teamwork, asking for help, supporting each other. It’s a “we” program, not an “I” program, we’ve all experienced today.

Focusing on simple solutions instead of trying to do everything at one time was a parallel concept during the tossing game. When I just focused on who was tossing the item to me and who I was tossing it to, I could handle the task. But I couldn’t when I was trying to watch and manage the tossing of everyone in the group. It’s like trying to juggle too many things in life at once. I can’t and everything falls apart when I try to do this in life.

– Yvette T.