A new approach to handling stress

A clinical counsellor urges people to play sports or take trips instead of taking a prescription to treat stress

by Breanne Massey

The idea of going for a coffee, taking a walk or going travelling isn’t typically what pops into my head when somebody says “therapy.”

But Kevin Ward would disagree. Ward is the director of the Interior Trauma Resolution and Training Centre in Salmon Arm, B.C., and the owner of Therapeutic Travel. He encourages people to use a variety of activities to reduce stress. Instead of referring people to use pills, Ward recommends fresh air and excitement.

“The adventure therapy approach is about bringing people into balance through (doing) activities,” said Ward.

Before the Internet, people used to visit each other face to face, but now it’s typical to use a social networking website to stay in touch; as a result, people are not engaged in conversation in the same way. Ward thinks that talking to a friend or counsellor allows people to move past personal problems so that they can continue coping with the next task.

“I believe that our society has become so busy that we don’t have many listeners anymore,” said Ward.

Everybody can make improvements, and sometimes, Ward said, it just takes a bit of creativity to reduce stress. Stress-reduction benefits can be offered through your workplace and it's proven that this brings balance to most people's lifestyles.

“One dollar spent in supporting stress and trauma with employees is equivalent to $35 of savings in the business,” said Ward, “and that’s pretty much the standard across North America.”

According to Ward, the Calgary Board of Education offers a program to its employees to do just that; it’s called Walking Trails, Horse Trails and Bike Trails.

Other adventure therapy approaches bring people together through boot camps or sports.

For more information about holistic healing in nature, visit Ward’s therapeutic travel website or the B.C. Association of Counsellors website.

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